May 28, 2014 10:00 AM by Jordan Mason
Seventeen members of the Air Force track and Field team will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend for the West Preliminary of the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The three-day event, which will be held at the University of Arkansas' John McDonnell Stadium, will run from Thursday, May 29, to Saturday, May 31.
This weekend's meet marks the first time that the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships (West Prelim) will be held at the University of Arkansas. A complete schedule of events for the Falcons can be found on Page 2 of this release. Live stats will be available for all three days of the competition, courtesy of FlashResults.com. Direct links to the live results page can be found on the Falcons' schedule page, as well as the Championship Central page at arkansasrazorbacks.com. Additionally, in-meet updates regarding Air Force performances will be available on the team's Twitter page (twitter.com/af_trackfield).
HOW THIS WORKS
The 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships begin this weekend at two preliminary sites (West Region - Fayetteville, Ark., East Region - Jacksonville, Fla.). Each region features the top 48 declared athletes in each event, with the exception of the decathlon and heptathlon. The top 12 finishers in each event from the two preliminary sites will advance to the national meet on June 11-14 in Eugene, Oregon.
WHO TO WATCH
The Falcons will send 17 athletes to the West Preliminary meet, including three 1500-meter runners (men: Patrick Corona, Matt Dorsey, Zach Perkins), three pole vaulters (men: Dylan Bell, Cort Rogers, Joey Uhle) and three shot putters (men: Grant Hamilton, Darby Maier; women: Danielle Tabb). Air Force will also send multiple contenders in the 800-meter run (men: Matthieu Caldwell; women: Annette Eichenberger), while Isaiah Bragg will compete in both the 5000- and 10,000-meter races. The Falcons will also be represented in the men's javelin throw (Garrett Griffin), long jump (Blue Kearney) and 3000-meter steeplechase (Gavin Owens), as well as the women's triple jump (Kassie Gurnell) and high jump (Rachel Herald).
MEN TIED FOR 16TH IN TOTAL NUMBER OF NCAA ENTRIES
With 14 entries into the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the men are tied for 16th in total number of entries among all schools (there are over 225 schools sending at least one athlete to the national championship meet). The Air Force men will be represented by 13 athletes in 14 events (four middle-distance, three distance, four jumps, three throws).
THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR
Kassie Gurnell will be making her fourth straight trip to the West Preliminary of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, while Joey Uhle will be making his third in as many years. The 2014 meet will also mark the second straight preliminary appearance for Annette Eichenberger, Garrett Griffin, Grant Hamilton and Zach Perkins.
Joey Uhle and former Air Force standout Cale Simmons are part of a tie for the West Preliminary Meet Record in the pole vault (17'8½"). Both Falcons, along with nine other vaulters, reached that mark at the 2013 preliminary in Austin, Texas, while an additional six athletes reached that mark at the 2012 meet.
With a season-best throw of 203'5" in the javelin throw at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships, Garrett Griffin is ranked sixth among Division I athletes that compete in both football and track/field and 10th overall in all three divisions.
THE TOP-50 HITS
Highlighted by Annette Eichenberger's #17 ranking in the 800-meter run (2:04.52), six Falcons are currently listed among the nation's top-50. Dylan Bell and Joey Uhle are ranked 25th in the pole vault standings with matching marks of 17'6½", while Cort Rogers is moved into #50 following his career-best 17'1" at the MW Championships. Grant Hamilton is ranked 41st in the shot put following a career-best throw of 60'8" the conference meet and Kassie Gurnell is listed 47th in the triple jump with a season-best distance of 41'11¼" on May 17.
BY THE NUMBERS
With three top-50 pole vaulters, Air Force is one of just five programs in the country to have at least three athletes ranked in the top 50 of that event. Kansas currently leads the field with four, while Air Force, Nebraska, Stephen F. Austin and Virginia Tech each have three.
EICHENBERGER NAMED ACADEMY'S MVP
After a stellar senior season in both cross country and track and field, Annette Eichenberger was named the Air Force Academy's Most Valuable Female Athlete on May 26. It is the second time in as many seasons that a member of the Falcons' distance squad has earned the athletic department's top female honor, while becoming the program's seventh overall athlete to earn the Female MVP award.