FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Arizona State track and field teams made history Saturday, as the Sun Devil men and women won the 2008 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships in impressive fashion. The victory was the first indoor team crown for the men while the women successfully defended the title they earned last year.
“I really cannot describe how proud I am of these kids,” ASU coach Greg Kraft said. “This is something you always dream of and I am just speechless right now. We really have a great group of kids. We are all very tired, but this is a great feeling.”
The men, who also won the 1977 outdoor title, earned their second team crown while the women captured their third national title in a row. The win also was the seventh in a row for the women as they have also won two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor championships, three NCAA crowns and one NCAA West Region (outdoor) title dating back to last year.
In the team standings, the women scored 51 points to surpass runner-up LSU (43 points) for the second year in a row while Michigan (39), Texas (35) and Stanford (32) rounded out the top 5. On the men’s side, the Sun Devils scored 44 points to edge Florida State (41 points) while Texas (34), LSU (33) and Tennessee (26) rounded out the top 5 in the men’s standings.
The women were helped along by Jacquelyn Johnson’s third national title indoors while the men saw Kyle Alcorn set the pace with his national title at 3,000 meters.
The day started with Johnson continuing her dominant ways as she became the first three-time winner of the indoor pentathlon and just the ninth woman in NCAA history to win the same event three times in a career.
Johnson scored 4,496 points to not only win for the third year in a row, but also break both the meet and collegiate records. Johnson, who nearly broke the collegiate pentathlon 800 meter record of 2 minutes, 13.40 seconds (she ran 2:13.45), needed to win by four seconds or more over Michigan’s Bettie Wade and easily took the race and the overall title.
Johnson’s score broke the previous NCAA record mark of 4,439 points scored by Austra Skuyte of Kansas State in 2002 while also breaking the previous meet record of 4,412 points scored by Hyleas Fountain of Georgia in 2004, the year she defeated Johnson and the only time Johnson has not won the national title in the pentathlon.
“I was confident going in. I had a little bit of déjà vu, because last year I had to win by three seconds or more in the 800 meters,” Johnson said.
“I knew I could do it; it was just a matter of actually going out there and accomplishing it. I wasn’t really thinking of winning for the third year in a row, I was more focused on beating the record (meet and collegiate).”
While Johnson’s impressive victory helped the women to victory, the collective efforts on the men’s side sealed the deal. Trailing Florida State by 10 points with two events remaining, Alcorn, ranked 14th of the 16 competitors, surged to the lead with two laps left and held on to pull out the win in the 30,000 and the much-needed 10 points.
“It was a great race with a quick tempo. I made a move early to get to the front because I wanted to control the pace,” Alcorn said.
“I didn’t find out until after the race that my victory was going to give us a tie for the lead, so that is a great feeling.”
With only ASU and Florida State battling for the crown, the Sun Devil team of Jimmie Gordon, Darryl Elston, Justin Kremer and Joel Phillip needed to finish only ahead of the Seminoles’ squad to assure ASU’s title. And that is just what the group did, running 3:06.34 to place third overall and take the team title as Florida State finished sixth in the race, which came just one hour after two of the runners, Phillip and Gordon, placed second (46.27) and eighth (47.47), respectively, in the 400 finals.
Before the women’s 1,600-meter relay took the track, the team had already won, but the group of Dominique’ Maloy, Shauntel Elcock, Jordan Durham and Jeavon Benjamin ran a season-best 3:33.63 to place third overall.
In the field, two more women earned runner-up honors as April Kubishta took second in the pole vault at 4.30 meters while Sarah Stevens was second in the shot put at 17.64 meters.
Jessica Pressley also scored in the shot put, placing fifth overall.