Falcons Travel to Mountain West Indoor Championships

Feb. 22, 2012

The indoor championship season begins this week for the Air Force track and field, as the Falcons travel to Albuquerque, N.M., for the 2012 Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships. Action for the three-day meet gets underway at 11 a.m., on Thursday, Feb. 24, and continues through Saturday, Feb. 26, at the ABQ Convention Center in downtown Albuquerque.

Meet Notes 08: at Mountain West Championships Get Acrobat Reader

For the third straight year, the 2012 Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championship will be held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Tickets are $5 each day and can be purchased at the door. For fans that cannot make it to the meet, real-time results will be available at http://www.rtspt.com/events/mwc/2012-Indoor/.

Thursday's action, which features the women's pentathlon and the first four events of the men's heptathlon, will begin at 11 a.m. Friday also begins at 11 a.m., with the conclusion of the heptathlon. Individual events will get underway from the field at 1 p.m., while the first track event (the women's 5000-meter final) is slated for a 1:30 p.m. start. Saturday's field action begins at 9:45 a.m., while the running events get underway one hour later. A complete schedule is located on page 2 of this release.

Since the formation of the Mountain West Conference for the 2000 season, Air Force has been atop the indoor medal podium on 30 occasions, while all-conference honors 98 times. Former Air Force standouts Sean Houseworth, Travis Picou and Justin Tyner are the most decorated indoor champions, as each has won three indoor titles. Last season, the men finished second in the conference standings - its best finish ever. In addition to their second-place finish in 2012, the men have placed third on eight occasions, fourth two times and fifth once. The women have finished eighth on seven occasions, while placing ninth three times and seventh twice.

Air Force holds four of the top five marks in the pole vault this season, behind Cale Simmons' league-leading 18'1¼". Rob Simmons is ranked second (17'8½"), while Elliott Beski and Joey Uhle are tied for fifth with matching marks of 16'6¾". The Falcons also hold three of the top five marks in the high jump, including Zach Wood (second, 6'10¼"), Travis Smith (third, 6'9¾") and Kobi Rex (fifth, 6'8").

Paige Blackburn was named the Mountain West Athlete of the Week on Feb. 21, after posting career-best distances in both the shot put and weight throw at the Robert Shine Invitational. Blackburn was the top collegiate finisher (second overall) in the shot put with a career-best 51'2¾", while becoming just the second female to clear the 50-foot mark in the shot put. She also finished second in the weight throw with a career-best toss of 59'7¾". Both marks are ranked second on the Academy's all-time list.

With a toss of 60'3¾" at the Robert Shine Invitational, Jalen Fooster improved his career distance in the weight throw by over three feet to move from seventh to second on the Academy's all-time list, while becoming just the fourth Air Force thrower to break the 60-foot mark in that event. Fooster was one of two Falcons to impact the program record book in the weight throw, as Brian Ford tossed a 59'6¼" to move into fifth on the all-time list.

The men's all-time list in the weight throw looks nothing like it did at the start of the season. Four of the top 10 distances in program history have occurred this year. In addition to Jalen Fooster (second, 60'3¾") and Brian Ford (fifth, 59'6¼") impacting the top-10 list, James Cole and Jared Barkemeyer moved into eighth (57'1½") and ninth (56'10¾"), respectively, on the all-time list.

The shot put records also got some improvements at Wyoming, as well. In addition to Paige Blackburn improving the No. 2 spot, Rachel Gebauer debuted on the all-time list after tossing the 10th-best mark in program history (43'2¼"). On the men's side, Sean Herbison moved from 10th to ninth on the men's all-time list with a throw of 54'1".

By converting Alexis Jones-Hardy's 55-meter time of 7.13 to a 60-meter time of 7.69, the freshman moved into a tie for fourth on the program's all-time list. Jones' Hardy won the 55-meter sprint at the Robert Shine Invitational in 7.13, crossing the finish line 0.08 faster that the race runner-up. When converted to a standard 60-meter time, she tied for the second-fastest time in program history (7.69). She is now just 0.01 off of the program's all-time record, which is held by three people.

Kimber Shealy won the pole vault at the Robert Shine Invitational with a clearance of 12'11½". It marks the fourth straight year that the senior, who holds the meet and venue records in Wyoming, has finished first in the pole vault. Shealy paced the Falcons lineup on Feb. 17, as Tawny Lambuth and Wren Bonner tied for second (12'7½"), Bizzy Mellado finished fourth (12'3½") and Paige Shirley placed fifth (11'7¾"). On the men's side, Cale Simmons' winning mark of 17'10½" paced the Falcons to the top five spots. Joey Uhle finished second with a career-best 16'6¾", while Elliott Beski and Cort Rogers tied for third (15'11") and Chase Cooper finished fifth (15'7").

Air Force claimed four of the six field event titles at Wyoming from both the men and the women. In addition to the win from Cale Simmons in the pole vault, Kyle Schwochow won the shot put (54'11½"), Kobi Rex won the high jump (6'8") and Blue Kearney took first in the long jump (23'8"). The women won the pole vault, (Kimber Shealy), high jump (Rachel Herald, 5'4¼") and triple jump (Kassie Gurnell, 37'7¼"), while Paige Blackburn was the top collegiate finisher in the shot put. From the track, Air Force won the men's and women's 400-meter dash (David Ptacek, Erica Carson), the women's 55-meter dash (Alexis Jones-Hardy), the men's 600-yard dash (Siotame Latu) and the men's 4x400-meter relay.

Select Falcons will travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Alex Wilson Invitational on March 2-3. The meet, held at the Notre Dame's Loftus Sports Center, will serve as a final chance to qualify for the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held March 9-10 in Nampa, Idaho.