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The New ASU Story:
Campus Lives - Athletes

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1977 ASU Team,
Track and Field National Champions

UP UPC ASUA T83 1970s

1977 ASU Team, Track and Field National Champions

There was a time when Arizona State was a huge force in track and field, culminating in a team championship in 1977. After a brief slump, the team has rebuilt a solid core and is reentering the national picture.

If the calendar year 1999 was any indication, the new millennium will mark the beginning of a golden era in track and field at Arizona State. Greg Kraft, ASU's eighth director of track and field and cross country, has tirelessly rebuilt a program from probation to prosperity as he's in his fourth year as a Sun Devil.

Last year saw the Sun Devils record their best NCAA Outdoor Championship men's finish since 1983, their best NCAA Indoor Championship men's finish ever, their best NCAA Indoor Championship women's finish since 1995, and their best NCAA Cross Country Championship finishes for both men and women ever. Twelve Sun Devils earned All-American honors in 12 different events. Nine individual school records, four team records and one individual collegiate record were broken. In the Pac-10, ASU had its best men's track finish since 1992.

The year 2000 should be even more productive than the previous three years, which saw nine individual track & field All-Americans, three All-American relay squads, three cross country All-Americans, five Pac-10 individual titles, two individual NCAA runner-up finishes, 17 first or second-team Pac-10 All-Academic selections, two Academic All-American cross country squads, and the first three NCAA appearances by a cross country team in ASU history.

After spending his first two years at ASU rebuilding the program one event at a time, building a foundation that focused on recruiting the high school ranks, 1999 saw Kraft get some results. During the indoor season, ASU's men finished 11th and the women in a tie for 32nd at the NCAA Championships. Marcus Brunson (60 meters) and Dwight Phillips (long jump) were NCAA runners-up and Brunson had broken the collegiate record in the 60 meters earlier in the year. Six indoor school records were broken. The outdoor season saw three school records fall while the men finished fifth in the Pac-10, just 0.5 point out of fourth place, and 18th at the NCAA Championships. Phillips captured both the long jump and triple jump Pac-10 titles and Fiona Daly recorded her second straight women's high jump conference crown.

"When I look at our program from where we were 3.5 years ago, I feel like we're on schedule," Kraft said. "I felt like it would take us three recruiting classes to get competitive. Competitive in my mind is to be in the upper division of the Pac-10 and in the top 20 nationally, which I think we are. Obviously our goal, and the stated goal of the department, is to annually compete for top-three Pac-10 finishes and top-10 national finishes. I think our men are at that point right now.

"When I look at the program's total health," he continued, "even though I really like our team and we'll contend for some really good honors this year, we don't have the distribution of aid I'd like to have. If we have 12 scholarships, I'd like to have three in my freshman class, three in my sophomore class and so on. If you look at our aid, our distance aid might be heavy in the freshman class, our sprint group might be heavy in the junior class; we need to have a program where annually we're at nationals contending for titles in the relays. We need to have a program where every year we're competing for a national berth in the cross country championships. If we have those kind of athletes in place, then it's very reasonable for us to be a top-three, top-10 team. To do that, you have to have a really mature program. Right now, I think we are talented, but I don't think we are a mature program. But, obviously, we're a lot closer than we have been in recent history."

Consider the numbers one through 332. One is the number of NCAA Team championships the program has earned, coming in 1977. Fifteen is the number of top-10 placings the teams have earned in outdoor and indoor national championships. And don't forget 32, the number of individual or relay national champions this program has produced. ASU's Hall of Fame includes 19 track and field Sun Devils. There are 33 Olympians that have donned maroon and gold, 10 of which earned medals, including seven gold medal winners. All-America honors were awarded to 63 indoor athletes and 181 outdoor contenders. Over the years, ASU has boasted 332 conference champions.

The list of ASU alumni is long and prestigious. Heading this list is ASU senior associate athletic director Herman Frazier, who is one of the most well-recognized athletes to represent ASU athletics. He earned gold (4x400m relay) and bronze (400m) medals at the 1976 Olympic Games and was selected to the 1980 U.S. Olympic squad. He captured a pair of NCAA individual events while leading the team to its only NCAA title in 1977. Maicel Malone is one of the most gifted sprinters in Sun Devil annals as a 10 time All-American and six time national champion. She earned a gold medal as part of the 1996 4x400 Olympic relay team and is training for the 2000 Games. Lynda Tolbert earned four national titles while a Sun Devil, earning eight All-America honors. Leslie Deniz became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic medal in the women's discus when she earned silver at the 1984 Games. She also won the 1983 NCAA discus title and broke the U.S. record five times in a two-year span. Ulis Williams ranked among the world's premier sprinters in the 1960s, running on the world record-setting mile relay at ASU in 1963 before earning an Olympic gold medal in the 4x400m relay one year later. He also boasts two NCAA crowns in the quarter mile.

There are a variety of reasons why so many runners have had, and continue to have success while training in the ASU area. Tempe and the surrounding Valley offer consistently ideal weather for fall, winter and spring training. The nearby parks, canal systems and greenbelt provide a variety of terrains and an abundance of soft surfaces on which to train. With the addition of a brand new track and field facility, and acres upon acres of grass fields on campus, every training requirement can be met.

With a strong and experienced administrative commitment to the track and field program, tremendous weather, great training areas, and a tradition-rich history, it's easy to see why Arizona State is one of the nation's best. -- ASU's Sports Information Department

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Last updated: August, 2000
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