ASU men’s track team dominates MPSF Championships

Twenty years is a long time to wait for a victory – in any sport.  But the Arizona State men cured a decades-long drought over the weekend by winning their first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Track & Field Championship.

And they did it in convincing fashion, recording the largest margin of victory at the MPSF Championships in more than 10 years.

The Sun Devils got off to a fast start this year, as both the men’s and women’s teams were in the lead after the first day.  The men, ranked No. 7 in the country and figured to be the favorite to win it all this year, used balanced scoring in all event groups to compile 67.50 points, while the women’s 39 points gave them a slim lead over the University of Arizona, which posted 38 points.

The women went on to a fourth-place finish with a total of 68 points;  Stanford made a charge from third place on the first day to move up and win the women’s title with 125 points.

The men’s team had a huge lead after the first day, coming in almost 40 points ahead of UCLA – and then lengthened it even further on day two, eventually winning by a total of 50 points as Stanford moved up into second place with 81.50 total points.

To put this year’s performance by the men into perspective, they scored just 72.50 points total for the two days of competition in 2011.

The MPSF Championships are the indoor version of the track and field conference championships and include teams from the Pac-12, Big West, and West Coast conferences.

ASU was propelled into the early lead this year by a dominating performance in the 200-meter dash.  The Devils posted a 1-2-3-4 sweep of the event to gather 29 points for the team.

Rashad Ross led the way by picking up his first conference title with a career-best time of 21.16.  Chris Burrows was just off his shoulder with a time of 21.19 for second place, and Daniel Auberry and Ryan Milus completed the sweep.

Milus, a sophomore from Hamilton High School in Chandler, went on to win the 60-meter dash on Saturday by finishing in 6.65 second, earning his first conference title, indoors or outdoors.  And teammate Auberry added a runner-up finish for a 1-2 sweep, crossing the line in 6.87.

ASU also picked up a couple of titles in the men’s field events and jumps.

Chris Benard bested the school record in the triple jump, a record he set himself in the season opener, and also set a record for the Dempsey Indoor Center in Seattle with a leap of 53’11”.  His jump ranks him second in the nation in that event.

Jordan Clarke, the defending outdoor NCAA shot put champion, won his first indoor MPSF title in the event with a throw of 62’03.25″. And Brian Pierre gave the Sun Devils another boost by winning the 5,000 meters in a time of 13:50.37.

The men’s distance medley relay settled for a third-place finish, but their time of 9:33.48 should be noted because it is the fourth-best time in school history and ranks among the top 10 nationally this year.  That team included Darius Terry, Will Henry, Mason McHenry, and Nick Happe.

On the women’s side, the highest finisher was Anna Jelmini, who ranked ninth in the nation in the shot put going into the competition.  The sophomore tossed the iron ball 53’00.75″ for second place.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)