Air Force Men Win First-Ever Mountain West Conference Title
Feb. 25, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - With a dominating victory in the final race of the day, the Air Force men's track and field team claimed its first-ever Mountain West title on Saturday, Feb. 25, in Albuquerque, N.M. The Falcons collected four conference titles, en route to the program's first conference crown.
Backed by four event titles, the Falcons amassed 156.50 points to edge conference newcomer Boise State (154 points) by 2.50 points. New Mexico finished third with 141 points, while TCU took fourth behind a 103-point outing. Colorado State (64.50) and Wyoming (38) rounded out the field.
Trailing Boise State by a 148-146.50 margin entering the final event, the 4x400-meter relay of senior Manny Smith, junior Anthony Delgado, freshman Jake Spuller and senior Bryce Bergman shaved one second off of the Academy record to win the race in 3:10.67. That mark shattered the previous standard of 3:11.64 that was had stood since 1977.
The Falcons' victory in the 4x400 - their second in as many years - secured the Falcons' team victory.
Air Force earned 27 total points in the pole vault, as the Falcons dominated the medal podium with six of the top eight places. Junior Cale Simmons cleared 17'5" to win the event, while freshman Joey Uhle took third with a career-best mark of 16'9¼". Sophomore Elliott Beski finished fourth and junior Chase Cooper tied for fifth with matching clearances of 16'5¼" (season best for Cooper). Junior Michael Tibbs cleared a personal-best 16'1¼" to take seventh, while sophomore Cort Rogers tied for eighth with a mark of 15'3".
Freshman Kobi Rex cleared a career-best 7'0¼" to win the high jump and pace the Falcons to a sweep of the top three spots. In addition to becoming just the fourth Falcon to clear the seven-foot mark - the first since 1997 - and move into fourth on the Academy's all-time list, Rex recorded the second-best mark in MW championship meet history. Juniors Zach Wood and Travis Smith cleared matching heights of 6'10¼" to finish second and third, respectively, as Wood matched his personal-best mark and Smith set a new career-best clearance.
Senior Jim Walmsley, who claimed the 5000-meter title yesterday, won the 3000-meter title today in a season-best time of 8:22.70. Sophomore Lance Wolfsmith earned a spot on the awards podium with a personal-best time of 8:32.73, while junior Jeremy Drenckhahn finished sixth in 8:33.33.
Smith also earned all-conference honors in the 400-meter run, crossing the finish line in a third-place time of 48.37, while Bergman
Sophomore Alex Lindsay and senior Nick White finished second and third, respectively, in the 800-meter run, behind career-best performances. Lindsay clocked a time of 1:51.46 (1:50.84 when converted for altitude) which is the sixth-best time in Academy history, while White's time of 1:51.85 (1:51.23 when converted) is the eighth-best mark in program history.
The Falcons also earned points from the relay members, as Delgado finished fourth in the 200-meter dash (career-best 21.61, seventh all-time), Spuller placed sixth in the 200-meter dash (career-best matching 21.80, ninth all-time) and Bergman finished sixth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.17). Seniors Sean Herbison and Kyle Schwochow both scored in the shot put, as Herbison finished sixth in 54'0½" and Schwochow placed eighth in 52'4". Classmate Alex Zubey, who ran the anchor leg of the winning distance medley relay yesterday, clocked a 4:13.87 to place fourth in the mile.
Highlighted by an Academy-record performance by sophomore Kassie Gurnell to finish second in the triple jump, the women accumulated 58 points to finish seventh. That total is the most in program history - smashing the previous 2001 meet total of 47 points - and matched the women's best-ever indoor finish.
Gurnell broke her own record in the triple jump on her fifth attempt (40'0½") to become the only woman to clear the 40-foot mark indoors. She improved that mark to 41'4¼" on her final attempt to finish second at the conference meet. It matches the program's best-ever finish in that event (2002, La Travia Robinson)
Senior Paige Blackburn finished fourth in the shot put with a distance of 48'8¾", while freshman Alexis Jones-Hardy finished fifth in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.77. Jones-Hardy recorded the Falcons' best ever finish in the 60-meter dash, while becoming only the second member of the women's team to score in that event.
Although the pair finished outside of the scoring places, juniors Melissa Fuerst and Jen Bremser moved into the program's all-time list in the 3000-meter run. Fuerst finished 10th in 10:09.13 (9:54.13 when converted for altitude) which is fourth on the program's all-time list, while Bremser finished 13th with the seventh-best time in Academy history 10:19.01 (10:03.76a).
TCU won the 2012 conference title with 141 points, while New Mexico took second with 116. San Diego State placed third with 97 points and UNLV finished fourth with 88. Just three points separated Boise State (69) and Colorado State (66), while Air Force (58) and Wyoming (27) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Select Falcons will travel to National Qualifying Meets next weekend (March 2-3) for a chance to improve their national standings, prior to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be March 9-10 in Boise, Idaho.