The first meet on Arizona State‘s 2017 cross country schedule is just six weeks away. Not a good time to be changing head coaches.
But the Sun Devils had little choice after Louie Quintana, ASU’s head coach for the past 12 years, departed to take over the women’s program at Oregon State.
The solution to keeping the program on the rails and be ready in time for the Sept. 3 George Kyte Invitational in Flagstaff? Hire from within.
So ASU has elevated Quintana’s assistant, Jeremy Rasmussen, to head coach and given him the reins of the men’s and women’s programs. “Jeremy’s experience and history with our program will make for a seamless transition for our Sun Devil cross country program,” explained Greg Kraft, the school’s director of track and field.
With the promotion, Rasmussen, a graduate of Mountain Pointe High School, becomes the eighth men’s coach and sixth women’s coach in the 55-year history of the tradition-rich program.
He also becomes the first to graduate from the program and then take it over as head coach.
Rasmussen was a walk-on at ASU but, before his career in maroon and gold was done, he became the 2000 Pac-10 champion in the 3k steeplechase, and then followed that with a couple of runner-up finishes.
Now, 15 years later, he’s working on developing new championship-caliber distance runners for the school that gave him an opportunity to prove himself at a sport he loved.
There’s little question he’s paid his dues while moving up the ranks to finally get his seat in the head coach’s office.
Rasmussen has served ASU as a volunteer coach, graduate assistant, director of operations, meet director, and assistant coach.
He joined the Sun Devil track program after graduating in 2003 and spent four years with the Pac-12 program before leaving to accept an assistant coach position at the University of Illinois. In 2014, he returned to rejoin the ASU program.
As a college athlete at ASU he helped the 2001 men’s team break the 100-point barrier in conference competition, marking the first time in program history a men’s team reached that goal.
As a Sun Devil assistant, he helped develop one of the best distance runners in ASU history, Shelby Houlihan, a 12-time All-American who holds five school records and was a Pac-12 champion in 2014 and Olympic qualifier in 2016.
Now Rasmussen gets a chance to set the direction for the entire program. Last season, the women’s team finished eighth at the NCAA West Regionals and the men came in 13th. There is definitely room for improvement.
This season, the Devils will compete in-state for the first three weeks of the schedule, but then will head for a couple of destinations not included on recent travel schedules.
At the end of September, one group will participate in the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater and another group will head to Minneapolis for the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational.
The schedule will wrap Nov. 10 with the West Regionals, held this year at the University of Washington.
-Reach Art Preuss at phxfan.com