Falcons Travel to NCAA Outdoor Championships
May 22, 2012
The 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships get underway this week for 19 members of the Air Force program. The select Falcons, competing in 22 events, will travel to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA West Preliminary, which begins on Thursday, May 24.
The 2012 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships (West Preliminary) will be held May 24-26 at Michael A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas. For the third straight year, two preliminary sites (West-Austin, Texas; East-Jacksonville, Fla.) will feature the top 48 declared athletes in each event. The top 12 finishers from each preliminary meet will advance to the national meet on June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. A complete schedule of Air Force athletes and events is located on page three of this release.
WHO TO WATCH
The Falcons will send a program-record 19 athletes to the West Preliminary, including four pole vaulters. Chase Cooper, Cale Simmons and Joey Uhle will compete in the men's pole vault, while Kimber Shealy will compete in the women's event. Air Force will also send multiple contenders in the javelin throw (men: Tim Urista; women: Paige Blackburn, Kim Smith), discus throw (men: James Cole; women: Blackburn), women's 1500-meter run (Melissa Fuerst, Morgan Mosby), men's high jump (Kobi Rex, Zach Wood) and men's hammer throw (Rob Drye, Sean Herbison). Blackburn is one of three Falcons to compete in multiple events, as Bryce Bergman will run in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles, while Jim Walmsley will compete in the 3000-meter steeplechase and 5000-meter run. Kassie Gurnell (triple jump), Andrew Quallio (10,000-meter run) and Alex Zubey (1500-meter run) will also represent the Falcons.
A BUSY WEEK FOR THE NEWEST AIR FORCE OFFICERS
Eight members of the Falcons' travel squad will graduate from the Academy on Wednesday morning, before heading to Austin, Texas, that evening. Bryce Bergman, Paige Blackburn, James Cole, Rob Drye, Sean Herbison, Kimber Shealy, Jim Walmsley and Alex Zubey will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force and then travel to Texas for the NCAA Championships. Bergman, Blackburn and Zubey all compete on Thursday, with Bergman and Blackburn have the fastest turnaround, as the first-round of the 400-meter hurdles and the semifinals of the javelin throw both begin at 4:30 p.m.
AIR FORCE MEN RANKED 13TH IN TOTAL NUMBER OF NCAA ENTRIES
With 15 entries into the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Air Force's men are tied for 13th among NCAA Division I schools for total number of entries (over 240 schools are sending at least one athlete to the national championship meet). Air Force, which will be represented by 13 men in 15 events, leads the Mountain West in number of total entries.
DUO LISTED AMONG NATION'S TOP 10
With an Academy-record clearance of 18'1¾", Cale Simmons is ranked third nationally in the pole vault, while Paige Blackburn is ranked seventh in the national standings of the javelin throw with a career-best mark of 170'5".
WALMSLEY EARNS ACADEMY'S ATHLETIC EXCELLENCE AWARD
Jim Walmsley, the MVP of both the men's cross country and track/field teams, was honored as the recipient of the Academy's Athletic Excellence Award - one of six Academy awards designated to cadet-athletes. Walmsley, who claimed four Mountain West track titles (two indoor, two outdoor) and captured all-conference and all-region honors during the cross country season, became the third track/field athlete in the
QUARTET CLAIMS PROGRAM'S TOP HONORS
Jim Walmsley and Paige Blackburn were named Most Valuable Athlete of the men's and women's teams, respectively, while Cale Simmons and Kimber Shealy earned the Most Outstanding Competitor awards for their respective teams. A complete list of award winners can be found on page five of this release.
FALCONS NAME TEAM CAPTAINS FOR 2012-13 SEASON
Sprinter Anthony Delgado, manager Riley Feeney, distance runner Andrew Quallio and pole vaulter Cale Simmons were selected by their teammates to serve as captains of the 2012-13 men's team, while sprinter Bethany Gross, middle distance runner Mogan Mosby and combined events athlete Lesly Torres were voted as the captains of the women's team.
AIR FORCE NETS RECORD 23 ALL CONFERENCE SELECTIONS
The Falcons received a program-record 23 all-conference selections at the MW Outdoor Championships, shattering the previous mark of 16 that was set at the 2012 indoor meet. By finishing within the top three of their respective events, 19 individuals (21 events) and two relay teams earned all-MW distinction. The men captured a program-best 17 all-conference honors, while the women tallied an Academy record six all-MW honors.
FALCONS WIN FIRST OUTDOOR TITLE
Highlighted by a program-best seven conference titles, the men's track and field team captured its first-ever outdoor team title at the MW Outdoor Championships, easily beating the field by 30.5 points. The men earned at least one scoring finish in every event that they competed in, including a program-best 17 top-three placements.
DID YOU KNOW?
In a span of just three months, the men's track and field team has doubled the Academy's total number of Mountain West titles. The 2012 men's indoor and outdoor squads join the 2003 men's cross country team and the 2004 men's basketball team as Air Force teams to have won a conference title.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
Backed by two championship titles on the final day, the women matched their highest finisher ever at a Division I conference championship meet with a sixth-place finish in the team standings. The Falcons claimed a program-best six top-three finishes, including multiple such placements in the 1500-meter run and javelin throw.
LINDEMAN NAMED CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
After leading the Falcons to their first outdoor title, Ralph Lindeman was selected as the Mountain West Men's Coach of the Year. It is the second such award of the year for Lindeman, as he also claimed the honor following the Falcons' victory at the MW Indoor Championships. He has now claimed the Mountain West's outdoor award three times, while earning the indoor award on five occasions and the WAC award once.
By claiming conference titles in three of the final four events awarded at the MW Outdoor Championships, the men bettered the remaining five teams by 30.5 points. That margin made for an easier team victory than that of the indoor season, which saw the Falcons win by just 2.5 points due to a victory in the final event. However, like the indoor season, Bryce Bergman, Manny Smith, Anthony Delgado and Jake Spuller capped off the championships with a victory in the 4x400-meter relay. The indoor championship team added to its medal count outdoors with the fourth-fastest time in Academy history (3:09.96).
I'LL TAKE (ANOTHER) TWO
Jim Walmsley, who won two conference titles at the MW Indoor Championships, added another pair of first-place medals to his collection at the outdoor meet. Competing in just the second 3000-meter steeplechase of his career, Walmsley clocked a time of 9:24.96 to win the Mountain West title by a two-second margin and become the program's first conference champion in that event since 2002. Walmsley returned to the track the following day, where he bettered the first by seven seconds to claim the 5000-meter championship. Walmsley's four combined conference titles are tied for the second-most career titles in program history.
Led by Cale Simmons' Academy and MW Championship-meet record clearance of 18'1¾", the men's pole vault team accounted for five of the top eight places on the award podium and 26.5 of the possible 39 event points. Simmons broke the conference's 2008 meet record of 18'1" and the Academy's record of 18'0½" that Simmons shared with Paul Gensic (2004), en route to his first outdoor title. Cort Rogers and Chase Cooper placed third and fourth, respectively, with matching heights of 16'8¾", while Elliott Beski tied for fifth (16'0¾") and Joey Uhle placed seventh (15'9").
DEFYING THE ODDS
Despite suffering a pectoral injury in December and being told by doctors that his throwing career might be over, Rob Drye defied the odds and returned to the ring for the conference championships. With a throw of 204'0", Drye successfully defended his conference title in the hammer throw, bettering the field by over 10 points. In just his third meet of the season, Drye became the third Mountain West athlete to claim hammer throw titles in back-to-back years.
STANDING STRONG AT THE TOP
Zach Wood became the program's first outdoor high jump champion (6'10¼") and paced the Falcons to half of the scoring finishes, while Alex Lindsay won the 800-meter run in a time of 1:52.12 and led Air Force to a one-two event finish. In the high jump, Kobi Rex and Travis Smith finished third and fourth, respectively, with matching marks of 6'8¾", while Evan McDowell placed eighth with a height of 6'4¾". Lindsay, whose victory marked the third time in the last six years that an Air Force athlete has won the 800-meter run, stood atop the medal podium with Nick White, who finished second in 1:52.49.
With conference titles from Zach Wood (outdoors) and Kobi Rex (indoor), the Falcons swept the Mountain West titles in that event for the first time in program history. In addition, the pair became the first Falcons to score in the outdoor high jump since 2001.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
With a victory in the 1500-meter run, Morgan Mosby became the first individual Mountain West track champion in the history of the women's program on May 12. In addition to her record-making accomplishment, Mosby also set a new Academy record in that even, crossing the finish line in 4:33.93 (4:23.74, altitude). The junior was joined on the medal podium by classmate Melissa Fuerst, who placed third in 4:37.77 (4:27.43, altitude) - the fifth-fastest time in program history. The pair, who also ran on the winning DMR team during the indoor season, became the first all-conference honorees in the 1500-meter run ... and just the fifth and sixth in a running event.
PAIGE-ING A JAVELIN CHAMPION
Paige Blackburn used a career-best throw of 170'5" to win the conference title in the javelin throw. In addition to recording the second-best throw in program history with a five-foot personal improvement, Blackburn became the Academy's fifth conference champion in that event. She also finished second in the discus throw, seventh in the shot put and eighth in the hammer throw to score for Air Force in all four throwing events. Blackburn was one of two Falcons to medal in the javelin throw - marking the ninth time in 10 years that Air Force has earned at least one top-three finish in that event - as Nichole Freeman used a career-best throw of 143'7" to finish third.
WHAT'S ON DECK
The top 12 finishers from each preliminary meet will advance to the national meet on June 6-9 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.