Sports - Air Force

May 13, 2012 1:00 AM by Valerie Perkin

Air Force mens track claims first Mountain West Championship

USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Highlighted by four event titles, the Air Force men's track and field team captured its first-ever outdoor team title at the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 12, easily beating the field by 30.5 points.

Backed by two championship titles, the women matched their highest finish in program history with a sixth-place finish.

The men picked up four conference titles during the final day of action at the Academy's Cadet Outdoor Track and Field Complex, including senior Jim Walmsley's second title of the weekend, as he won the 5000-meter run in a time of 14:42.15.

Walmsley, who won the 3000-meter steeplechase yesterday, bettered the field by seven seconds to claim his fourth MW title of the year (Walmsley also won the 3000-meter and 5000-meter races at the indoor championships).

In addition, junior Cale Simmons won the pole vault with a new Academy and MW Championship meet record height of 18'1¾", sophomore Alex Lindsay placed first in the 800-meter run (1:52.12) and the team of senior Bryce Bergman, classmate Manny Smith, junior Anthony Delgado and freshman Jake Spuller capped off the day with a victory in the 4x400-meter relay (3:09.96 - the fourth-fastest time in Academy history).

With his Academy-record clearance of 18'1¾", Simmons broke the championship-meet record of 18'1" that New Mexico's Robert Caldwell set in 2008. The junior paced the Falcons to a dominating finish in the pole vault, claiming five of the top six heights and 26.5 of the possible 39 points in that event. Sophomore Cort Rogers and junior Chase Cooper placed third and fourth, respectively, with matching heights of 16'8¾", while sophomore Elliott Beski tied for fifth with a height of 16'0¾" and freshman Joey Uhle took seventh with a clearance of 15'9".

Lindsay guided the Falcons to the top two spots in the 800-meter run, as senior Nick White placed second with a time of 1:52.49. Bergman added additional points to the Falcons' total in both hurdle events. He was the runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 51.61, while also placing sixth in the 110-meter hurdles with a career-best time of 14.20 - the
10th-fastest time in Academy history - in just his third race at that distance this season.

Air Force added a runner-up finish from Smith, who placed second in the 400-meter dash with a season-best time of 47.61. In addition to running on the winning 4x400-meter relay team, Spuller and Delgado joined junior Uzor Udensi to scoring finishes in the 200-meter dash, which gave the
Falcons the lead in the team standings during the final few events.

Spuller placed fifth with a time of 21.55, while Udensi and Delgado finished sixth (21.69) and seventh (21.77), respectively. Udensi, Delgado, Spuller and Smith also finished third in the 4x100-meter hurdles with the sixth-fastest time in Academy history (40.74).

The Falcons earned multiple scoring finishes in the 1500-meter run, as freshman Zach Perkins and senior Alex Zubey placed third (3:57.36) and fourth (3:57.94), respectively. Sophomore Tim Urista finished third in the javelin throw with a toss of 199'9", while senior James Cole used a career-best throw of 54'2¾" on his final attempt to place fourth in the shot put.

Air Force won its first outdoor title in Academy history with a program-record 189.50 points. Boise State finished second with 159 points, while New Mexico took third with 140 points. TCU (127), Colorado State (100.5) and Wyoming (96) rounded out the men's standings.

The women also had a stellar day , claiming a pair of conference titles, including the Acadmey's first-ever title from the track, en route to matching its best team placement in Mountain West history (sixth).

Junior Morgan Mosby became the program's first conference champion from a track event after winning the 1500-meter run with an Academy-record time of 4:33.93 (4:23.74 when converted for altitude), while senior Paige Blackburn claimed the program's fifth title in the javelin throw since 2004 with a career-best mark of 170'5".

Blackburn, who added nearly five feet to her second-place standing on the program's all-time list, was one of three Falcons to earn a spot in the top five of the javelin throw. Freshman Nichole Freeman improved her personal distance (and ninth-place standing on the program's all-time list) to 143'7" to finish third, while Smith took fifth with a mark of 140'10".

Mosby also paced the Falcons to a strong presence atop the medal podium, as junior Melissa Fuerst finished third in the 1500-meter run with a career-best time of 4:37.77. Fuerst's altitude-converted time of 4:27.43 is the fifth-fastest time in program history.

Sophomore Kassie Gurnell was the runner-up in the triple jump, recording a distance of 41'7¼".

The Falcons picked up their best-ever finish in the 4x400-meter relay, as junior Bethany Gross, Gurnell, freshman Morgan Malone and senior Tawny Lambuth posted a sixth-place time of 50.78. Sophomores Regan Rogers and Rachel Herald tied for seventh in the high jump with matching marks of 5'3¾", while Blackburn earned the same placement in the shot put (48'4") to score for Air Force in all four throwing events.

Senior Rachel Thomas scored for the Falcons in the 400-meter hurdles, clocking a time of 61.68 to place eighth, and ran a leg of the eighth-place 4x400-meter relay team (3:58.60) with Gross, Gurnell and Mosby.

Air Force tallied a program-record 79 points to finish sixth - just four points out of the top five. TCU won the conference title with 147 points, while Colorado State (135 points) edged UNLV (130) for second. San Diego State (103.50, fourth) and Boise State (83, fifth) rounded out the top five, while New Mexico and Wyoming finished seventh (76.5) and eighth (63), respectively.

Select Falcons will travel to Austin, Texas, for the preliminary round of competition of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 24-26.

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