Feb. 22, 2013
NAMPA, Idaho - Bolstered by the third-best time in Academy history, the Air Force women's distance medley relay team successfully defended its title during the second day of competition (Feb. 22) at the Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nampa, Idaho.
Sophomore Rebecca Esselstein and a trio of seniors in Bethany Gross, Morgan Mosby and Melissa Fuerst combined for a time of 11:52.73 to better the field by over four seconds and win the program's second straight conference title in that event. Competing in a DMR for the first time this season, Air Force clocked the third-fastest time in Academy history, while Mosby and Fuerst captured their second straight conference title in that race.
The men's DMR squad of senior Ted Artz, junior David Ptacek, junior Jake Hawkins and freshman Patrick Corona finished second in the day's final event, with a combined time of 9:59.30. The Falcons battled with Colorado State throughout the race, as just one second separated the two final runners at the finish line.
Backed by a runner-up finish from senior Matt Bell, the Falcons claimed three of the top-four finishes in the 5000-meter run - marking the second time in three years that Air Force has accounted for three of the top-four spots in that event. Bell crossed the finish line in a time of 14:33.39 to pace junior Isaiah Bragg (14:34.53, third) and senior Jeremy Drenckhahn (14:34.74, fourth) to scoring finishes for Air Force.
The men also earned multiple scoring finishes in the weight throw, as senior Brian Ford and junior William Kent finished third and fourth, respectively. Both throwers accounted for the day's top marks on their second attempts, as Ford recorded a distance of 60'5¼" and Kent tallied a mark of 60'4½".
Sophomore Evan McDowell capped off the two-day heptathlon with three strong performances to finish second in the seven-event competition. Entering the day in fourth, McDowell used career-best marks in two of the final three events to tally a personal-best 5,184 points. His tally, a personal improvement of nearly 200 points is the fifth-best clearance in Academy history and bettered the program's Sophomore Class Record by over 130 points.
McDowell, who won the 1000-meter race with a career-best time of 2:43.90, added nearly one-and-a-half-feet to his height in the pole vault to finish third with a personal-best clearance of 13'5¼". He also added a fifth-place time of 8.53 in the 60-meter hurdles ... a mark that clocked just 0.01 shy of a third career-best mark on the day.
Back on the women's side, Air Force used a pair of career-best performances to collect two of the top-five finishes in the pole vault. Junior Paige Shirley cleared a career-best 12'10¾" to finish fourth in the overall standings, while senior Bizzy Mellado placed fifth with a personal-best 12'6¾". Shirley's height is ranked fourth on the program's all-time list, while Mellado's mark improved her seventh-place ranking in the Academy record book.
The women also earned multiple top-eight (scoring) finishes in the high jump. Junior Rachel Herald cleared 5'6" to finish fourth, while senior Lesly Torres, who competed in the pentathlon yesterday, bettered the bar at 5'4½" to finish eighth. Senior Jen Bremser rounded out the scoring finishes for Air Force during the first full day of competition, as she finished fourth in the 5000-meter run with a time of 17:02.51.
Several qualifying races were also contested today at Jacksons Indoor Track at the Idaho Center.
In addition to her place on the winning distance medley relay team, Mosby won the preliminary round of competition in the mile run, clocking a time of 5:00.52. Junior Annette Eichenberger also advanced to the final day of competition, as she finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:14.08.
On the men's side, junior Alex Lindsay was the runner-up in the 800-meter run preliminary with a time of 1:53.58, while sophomore Jake Spuller and senior Uzor Udensi finished fourth (21.88) and sixth (21.96), respectively, in the qualifying round of the 200-meter dash. Junior David Ptacek advanced out of the opening round in the 400-meter dash with an eighth-place time of 49.48.
After the first day of team scoring, the men are in second place with 46 points. The Falcons are just seven points behind current leader New Mexico (53 points), while Colorado State (37), Wyoming (28) and Boise State (25) round out the men's standings.
With two days of team scoring completed, the women are in fourth with 29.333 points. San Diego State, backed by a 23-point output in yesterday's pentathlon, leads the field with 56 points, while New Mexico (48) and Colorado State (46.333) round out the top three. Just seven points separate fourth and seventh, with Air Force, Wyoming (28), Fresno State (26) and Boise State (22.333) all packed together. Rounding out the nine-team standings are Nevada (11) and UNLV (6).
The Falcons will close out the 2013 Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships tomorrow (Feb. 23) in Nampa, Idaho. Action begins at 11 a.m., with the men's high jump, while running events get underway at 12:30 p.m.