Jan. 26, 2013
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Backed by three event titles and several incursions into the program's all-time record book, the Air Force track and field team wrapped up competition at the 23rd annual AF Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Academy's Cadet Field House Indoor Track.
Juniors David Ptacek and Alex Lindsay claimed event titles for the men's team, while classmate Kassie Gurnell picked up a first-place finish in the women's events. Ptacek clocked a career-best time of 49.58 to win the 400-meter dash, while Lindsay won his season debut of the 800-meter run in a time of 1:54.41. Gurnell rounded out the Falcons' trio of event winners, as she recorded a distance of 40'4¼" to win the triple jump.
Freshman Lea Ross, who joined Gurnell among the top three of the women's triple jump with a third-place finish, improved her personal distance by over seven inches (38'9½") to move into fourth on the all-time Academy standings.
Ross was one of four Falcons to impact the program's record book during the final day of competition at the Air Force Invitational.
Junior Paige Shirley added eight inches to her clearance in the pole vault to (12'9½") to move into sixth on the Academy's all-time list, while senior Melissa Fuerst finished fourth in the mile with a time of 5:10.33 (4:58.60, adjusted for altitude) to debut in 10th in the program standings. In addition, junior Rachel Herald matched her career-best high jump mark of 5'6", which is ranked sixth on the all-time list.
Recording a third-place in the pole vault, Shirley paced a trio of Falcons to top-six finishes in that event. Senior Bizzy Mellado posted a season-best mark of 12'1½" to finish fourth, while freshman Riley Vann cleared 11'7¾" to take sixth. In the high jump, Herald was one of three Falcons to finish within the top eight, as classmate Regan Rogers and senior Lesly Torres finished fifth (5'6") and eighth (5'5"), respectively.
Those two events also had a strong Air Force presence in the men's field. Senior Zach Wood tied for second in the high jump with a season-best clearance of 6'9", while classmate Travis Smith placed seventh following a season-best height of 6'7¾". Freshman Dylan Bell and sophomore Joey Uhle placed second and third, respectively, in the pole vault with matching marks of 17'0¾", while junior Cort Rogers (16'6¾"), senior Chase Cooper (16'0¾") and junior Elliott Beski (16'0¾") finished sixth through eighth.
Freshman Gavin McHenry clocked a career-best time of 6.84 to finish third in the finals of the 60-meter dash (second in the collegiate field), while classmate Joe Wilkin improved his personal-best time in the 60-meter hurdles (8.24) to finish fourth overall and third among collegiate athletes. Air Force also earned a third-place finish in the 200-meter dash from sophomore Jake Spuller, who clocked in with a season-best time of 21.90. Senior James Chambers recorded a career-best 53'1¾" to finish sixth in the shot put, while freshman Grant Hamilton placed 10th behind a throw of 50'0½". Sophomore Kyle Gartrell made his season-debut in the triple jump, finishing seventh with a distance of 44'8¼", while classmate Elliot Myers clocked a time of 4:29.39 to finish fifth in the men's mile.
Back on the women's side, freshman Hannah Everson improved her 800-meter time by four seconds to take fifth in 2:24.12. Classmate Anna Olesinski debuted in the 3000-meter run with a sixth-place time of 11:15.59, while sophomore Danielle Tabb earned a top-10 finish in the shot put with a ninth-place distance of 41'5".
Air Force returns to action next weekend (Feb. 1-2), when they travel to Albuquerque for the New Mexico Classic at the ABQ Convention Center.