May 16, 2014 9:46 PM by Jordan Mason
LARAMIE, Wyo. - With a clearance of 6'8¾", Air Force freshman Taylor Smith claimed the conference title in the high jump during the third day of competition (May 16) at the 2014 Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Laramie. Backed by Smith's first-place finish, eight Falcons earned scoring finishes during Friday's competition.
After passing on the opening two heights of the high jump, Smith entered the competition at 6'3¼", clearing that bar on his opening attempt. With advancing marks on each of the next four heights, including a first-chance make at 6'6¼", Smith was the only competitor to clear the 6'8¾" bar - a mark just a quarter-inch shy of his personal-best.
Smith is the Academy's second champion in the outdoor high jump, marking the second time in the last three conference meets that an Air Force jumper has claimed a Mountain West title in the outdoor high jump (Zach Wood, 2012).
The men collected a pair of scoring finishes in the long jump and 10,000-meter run. Junior Blue Kearney earned top-three honors for the second straight year following a third-place mark of 24'5¾", while classmate Kyle Gartrell recorded a personal-best distance of 23'2½" to take seventh. On the track, senior Isaiah Bragg clocked a time of 31:47.48 to take fifth in the 10,000-meter run, while junior Riley Coates finished seventh with a time of 32:16.85.
Senior Gavin Owens clocked a time of 9:29.81 to finish fourth in the 3000-meter steeplechase and sophomore Grant Hamilton placed sixth in the discus throw with a career-best toss of 171'11".
After two days of scoring, the men are currently in fourth with 37 points. Colorado State leads the conference with 58 points, while Wyoming is in second with 52 points. New Mexico (45) and Air Force (37) are in third and fourth, respectively, while Boise State (fifth, 28), Utah State (sixth, 27) and Fresno State (seventh, 26) are separated by just two points.
On the women's side, freshman Cydnee Reese recorded a mark of 153'6" to finish eighth in the discus throw.
Air Force is in 10th following Reese's finish in the discus throw. San Diego State leads the field with 68.50 points, while Colorado State is in second with 52 points and Boise State holds third with 32.50 points. New Mexico (fourth, 29), Nevada (fifth, 22), Wyoming (sixth, 21) and Utah State (seventh, 20) are within nine points of each other. Fresno State is in eighth with 15 points, while UNLV (ninth, 12), Air Force (10th, 1) and San Jose State round out the field.
Several qualifying races were contested on the track, with six Falcons advancing to tomorrow's finals.
Sophomore Joey Wilkin tied for the 10th-fastest time in Academy history (14.20) to place third in the qualifying round of the hurdles, while junior Casey Riggs clocked 14.64 to take eighth and earn a spot in the finals. Air Force also qualified two runners in the 800-meter run, as seniors Alex Lindsay and Matthieu Caldwell finished fifth (1:52.56) and eighth (1:53.95), respectively. Junior Jake Spuller clocked a time of 21.43 to finish sixth in the qualifying heat of the 200-meter dash, while senior Annette Eichenberger advanced to the finals of the 1500-meter run after clocking a fifth-place time of 4:44.80.
Although he missed a spot in the finals of the 100-meter dash, Spuller recorded a career-best time of 10.65 to move into seventh on the program's all-time list. In addition, he became the first sprinter since 2006 (and only the second since 1997) to impact the program's top-10 list in that event.
The 2014 Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships conclude tomorrow (May 17) with the final day of competition at the Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex. Action begins at noon with the women's javelin, men's shot put, women's high jump and women's 4x100-meter relay.