James Cole, Paige Blackburn Highlight Beach Invitational
April 21, 2012
CERRITOS, Calif. - Highlighted by the second-best men's discus throw and women's shot put marks in Academy history, the Air Force track and field team concluded a strong day of competition at the Beach Invitational in Cerritos, Calif., on Saturday, April 21.
With a career-best throw of 180'7", senior James Cole was the top collegiate finisher ... and placed fourth overall ... in a men's discus field that featured 71 throwers, including a past Olympic competitor. Cole, who bettered his personal distance by nearly two feet, became just the second thrower in Academy history to surpass the 180-foot mark, as he improved his second-place standing on the program's all-time list and set a new Senior Class Record.
Classmate Paige Blackburn, who recorded the program's second-best discus throw mark on Friday at Mt. SAC, moved into second on the Academy's all-time shot put list Saturday at the Beach Invitational. The senior threw a career-best 48'5¼" to finish third in her flight, improving her personal distance by five inches. Sophomore Jackie Ahloo won her flight of the shot put with a career-best 47'3" ... the fourth-best throw in Academy history.
Several other incursions were made to the program's all-time list, including improvements to both the men's and women's 800-meter lists. Junior Morgan Mosby recorded the sixth-fastest time in the women's 800 with a career-best time of 2:11.02 (a personal improvement of over one second), while senior Alex Zubey moved from 10th to seventh on the men's list with a time of 1:50.23.
From the field, sophomore Cort Rogers won his flight of the pole vault with a clearance of 16'9½", while freshman Joey Uhle used that same height to place fourth in his flight. Those marks, career-best clearances for both vaulters, are tied for the ninth-best heights in program history. Freshman Nichole Freeman matched her career-best javelin distance of 141'10" (the 10th-best throw in program history) to finish fourth in her flight.
Air Force accounted for seven additional career-best marks at the Beach Invitational, including sophomore Gavin Owen's 12-second improvement in the 3000-meter steeplechase (9:12.43). Sophomore David Ptacek won his section of the 400-meter dash with a personal-best time of 49.04, while classmate Michael Craig clocked a career-best 22.07 to finish second in his section of the 200-meter dash. Sophomore Jake Hawkins finished the 800-meter run in a career-best 1:53.55, while classmate Matt Caldwell took third in the 1500-meter run with a personal-best 3:52.89. Freshman Blue Kearney finished fifth in the long jump with a career-long distance of 22'11¼", while classmate Rebecca Esselstein was the runner-up in her section of women's 800-meter run with a personal-best time of 2:15.08.
Senior Manny Smith was one of several other Falcons to win their respective flights/sections, as he took first in his section of the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.62. Sophomore Alex Lindsay won his section of the 800-meter run behind a time of 1:51.21, while freshman Zach Perkins earned the same placement in his section with a debut time of 1:57.21. Blackburn also placed first in her flight of the discus throw with a toss of 158'11".
Air Force added several additional top-five finishes in various flights of its respective events.
The men's 4x100-meter relay was the sectional runner-up with a time of 41.34. Ptacek finished second in his section of the 200-meter dash (22.25), while freshman Jake Spuller placed fifth in his section of that race with a time of 21.83. Sophomore Carl Eifert picked up a fourth-place finish in his section with a time of 9:44.72. Juniors Zach Wood and Travis Smith placed second (6'9") and fourth (6'7"), respectively, in the same flight of the high jump, while classmates James Chambers and Brian Ford finished second (164'1") and fourth (156'10"), respectively, in their various flights. Cole and Chambers also earned fourth-place marks in their respective flights of the shot put, as Cole tossed a 52'4½" and Chambers recorded a mark of 50'3¼".
On the women's side, unior Bizzy Mellado cleared 12'4½" to finish second in the first flight of the pole vault, while senior Tawny Lambuth took fifth with a height of 11'10½". Lambuth also collected a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter dash, as she crossed the finish line in 12.49. In addition, junior Bethany Gross finished fifth in her section of the 400-meter dash (58.32), while senior Rachel Thomas earned the same placement in her section of the 400-meter hurdles (63.88).
The Falcons split for action next weekend, traveling to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 103rd Drake Relays (April 27-28) and Fort Collins, Colo., for the Jack Christiansen Invitational (April 28).