Falcons Conclude First Day of Air Force Invitational
Paige Blackburn

Feb. 10, 2012

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USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Five improvements were made to the program record book, as the Air Force track and field team wrapped up the first day of competition at the Air Force Invitational on Friday, Feb. 10, at the Academy's Cadet Field House.

The Falcons claimed half of the top-eight finishes in the men's weight throw. Senior James Cole improved his distance in that event by four feet to place fourth with a toss of 57'1½", while sophomore Jalen Fooster posted a personal-best toss of 57'0" to finish fifth. Both throwers made advancements in the program's all-time list, as Cole debuted in sixth and Fooster moved into a tie for seventh. In addition, junior Brian Ford finished sixth with a toss of 56'2", while senior Jared Barkemeyer placed eighth with a distance of 55'7½".

On the women's side, senior Paige Blackburn finished second in the weight throw with a toss of 58'8", while sophomore Becca Bauman placed sixth with a career-best toss of 52'7¼". Bauman's throw, a personal improvement of nearly two feet, is ranked seventh on the program's all-time list.

Juniors Travis Smith and Zach Wood cleared matching heights of 6'8¾" in the high jump to finish fourth and sixth, respectively, with ties being broken by attempts.

Backed by senior Auriele Fain's winning time of 5:23.36 in the non-seeded mile, the Falcons swept the top five places of that event. Sophomore Amanda Blain finished second in 5:25.99, while freshman Emily Hazen placed third in a time of 5:30.17. Sophomore Adrianna Dong and freshman Heather Connick rounded out the top-five placements with respective fourth- (5:32.10) and fifth-place (5:32.14) finishes.

Junior Bizzy Mellado won the non-seeded pole vault with a season-best clearance of 12'1½", while sophomore Paige Shirley placed second with a season-best 11'9¾"

Headlined by freshman Siotame Latu's win in the non-seeded 800-meter run, Air Force claimed two of the top five finishes. In his first race at that distance, Latu posted a time of 1:58.33 to win the event, while junior Gage Owens clocked a career-best time of 2:02.26 to finish fifth. Freshman Michelle Ferguson finished the women's non-seeded 800 in a time of 2:30.17 to finish eighth.

Several Falcons qualified to tomorrow's finals of the 200- and 400-meter sprints.

Freshman Jake Spuller clocked the 10th-fastest time in Academy history (21.93) to place fifth in the 200-meter dash qualifier. Spuller was one of three Falcons to finish within the top 12 of the 44-member qualifying round. Junior Anthony Delgado finished ninth in the preliminary round with a time of 22.03, while sophomore Michael Craig finished 11th in a career-best time of 22.18.

With a time of 48.69, senior Manny Smith was the top collegiate finisher in the 400-meter dash preliminary round and advanced to the finals with the second-fastest overall time of the day. Classmate Bryce Bergman also qualified in the men's 400-meter dash with a time of 49.85, while junior Bethany Gross used a time of 58.18 to finish 11th in the women's 400 and qualify to tomorrow's finals.

During the women's 200-meter qualifying, freshman Morgan Malone posted a time of 25.56 to move into fifth on the program's all-time list.

The Falcons conclude action at the Air Force Invitational tomorrow (Feb. 11). Action begins at 10 a.m., in the Cadet Field House, with the men's shot put and women's pole vault. In addition, two members of the Falcons' distance squad will compete at the Flotrack Husky Classic tonight (Feb. 10) in Seattle, Wash., while seven more will participate tomorrow (Sat. 11) at Dempsey Indoor.



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