After back and forth competition, after a season of both teams trading wins and loses against each other, the ASU men and women track program swept their in-state rival University of Arizona at the Pac-12 Championship meet to keep the Territorial Cup in Tempe on Sunday.
Overall, the program fell in the middle of the competitive Pac-12 group, taking sixth place on the women’s side (58.5) and eighth in the men’s (51). The meet for the two Arizona programs went down to the last event much like in the Pac-12 vs. Big 10 meet a couple of weeks ago in the men’s division, and though ASU didn’t win the 4x400 relay, they did enough, preventing the Wildcats from securing the win. Head coach Greg Kraft said he knew the matchup with Arizona was going to be close and he stressed how important it was to take the meet one play at a time. He also said this meet shows what type of athletes he has on his team.
“I tell our team it is always our obligation to contribute to the territorial cup,“ Kraft said. “It’s a neat thing between University of Arizona and Arizona State University and... I think it speaks to our team too with just the types of student athletes that we have on our team. Look at Maggie Ewen who set an unprecedented feat with the hammer shot discus triple. Being the high point, the MVP of the meet but Saturday too with CJ Albertson and Keyasia Tibbs both being the Pac-12 students athletes of the year.... Matt Eckles, a walk-on become a Pac-12 champion in the pole vault, that’s impressive.”
This win wasn’t the only highlight of the night. Redshirt junior Maggie Ewen dominated as she won each event she competed in, including the discus (59.81 m.), shot put (17.18) and hammer throw (70.20). Ewen alone put up 30 points overall, more than both the Utah and Oregon State men’s and women’s teams produced.
By winning these three events, she made history by becoming the first Sun Devil thrower to win three events at the Pac-12 meet, the first one in the Pac-12 to win as many since 1999, and the first ASU competitor to ever win all three events in the same season. After such an incredible event, Ewen was as humble as ever.
“I think I still don’t really know how to feel,“ Ewen said. “It’s something that we’ve been training for and working towards all year so I’m just super happy I was able to make it happen.”
Kraft said this success speaks volumes for both Ewen and throwing coach Brian Blutreich. Ewen was under Blutreich’s guidance for the first time this year and it was her “character and her willingness to learn” the new methods Blutreich would bring to the table that led to her success.
Ewen wasn’t the only one to set herself apart from the Pac-12 crowd as redshirt sophomore Matt Eckles took a conference title in pole vault (5.07), senior Kyle Long took third in the hammer throw (64.03) and second in the discus (58.54), senior Keyasia Tibbs took fourth in the long jump (5.87) and second in the triple jump (13.22), and redshirt senior CJ Albertson took third in the 3K steeplechase (8:49.56) on Saturday.
When Sunday came around, the Sun Devils continued to reach the top five in several events like the men’s 4x100 relays (4th, 40.56 seconds), junior Deshaunda Morrison in the 100 hurdles (13.30) and sophomore Joey Bryant in the triple jump (15.48 m.).
The season isn’t over for the elite of the Sun Devils’ athletes as the NCAA regionals and Championship will be going at the end of May and beginning of June, and there is one more pitstop for ASU as they head to Tucson to compete in the Tucson Elite meet.