TEMPE, Ariz. — The 38th annual Sun Angel Classic ended on a sour note for the Sun Devils as new transfer Paul Lucas pulled his hamstring during the men’s 4x400 relays on Saturday. The injury will set the freshman back for about three weeks and ASU track head coach Greg Kraft said the injury hurts, but the team has to find a way to deal with it.
“That’s discouraging for Paul,” Kraft said. “He’s a guy that came in, mid-year from Oregon State and you know it just bums you out for the kid cause he’s a great kid and he’s really a big time talent.”
The meet wasn’t just all bad though. Just under 4,600 athletes from all levels, from high school to Olympians. These athletes representing Puma, Atlas, and top programs like Texas A&M, Kansas, and more set the tone for stiff competition ASU faced throughout the day. Redshirt junior Maggie Ewen, arguably ASU’s top competitor, continued to perform at her high level, taking first place in the premiere hammer throw (69.27 meters), second in premiere discus throw (56.87 meters) and second in premiere shot put (17.07 meters, which is fourth all time in ASU history). Being the first meet this season where she threw at more than one event, Ewen was ecstatic to compete at a high level.
“It was a really good experience and I’m really glad that in all my events, I had some really good competition,“ Ewen said. “I think that they really pushed me and really kind of woke me up a little bit, back to ‘OK, need to start really getting after my training.’”
Ewen wasn’t the only ASU representative to succeed at the high-profile meet. Senior Kyle Long placed second in hammer throws and fifth in discus. Sophomore Joey Bryant earned second in the high and long jump. Junior Deshaunda Morrison finished fourth in the 100 hurdles. Senior Garrett Starkey got fourth in pole vault, but was able to take second place overall in ASU pole vaulting history (5.5 meters, 18 feet). Starkey said he has even higher goals for his final season.
“The ASU record is 18.8 right now, that’s number 1,“ Starkey said. “So that’s a big jump from number 2 to number 1, but I kind of want to keep striving towards that little by little. Breaking that would be the Olympic A standard, it would break the school record, my dad’s collegiate record which would be a big deal so it would be really special to get that 5.70 jump.”
After the Sun Angel Classic, ASU now has its focus on the Pac-12 championship which will occur May 7th. Kraft said that he needs his players to focus on staying healthy and that when it comes to their top athletes, they’re in a good spot for this final stretch of their season. Kraft also said that he wants his team to find ways to get points on the board from unexpected competitors to earn a spot among the top-three teams in the conference championship meet.