ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Backed by six event titles and strong performances across the board, the Air Force men's track and field team easily captured the Mountain West title this afternoon (Feb. 24), during the final day of conference action in Albuquerque. While the men claimed their seventh overall title, the women placed seventh and recorded their best finish since the league expanded to 11 teams.
The men racked up 206.50 points to win its third indoor title in six years - and separate itself from the field by 65.50 points. Colorado State finished second with 141 points, while Utah State placed third with 116 points. New Mexico (fourth, 96.50), Boise State (fifth, 55) and Wyoming (sixth, 41) rounded out the team standings.
Air Force became the first team to break the 200-point mark in a MW indoor championship since 2009, while the 65.50 margin of victory was the most at the conference championships since 2011.
The Air Force sprinters and hurdlers dominated the day, as they swept the conference titles in all five events and accounted for 10 scoring finishes. Junior Miguel Molas (60-meter dash), senior Jamiel Trimble (200-meter dash), senior Tyler Koss (400-meter dash) and junior Micah Fontaine (60-meter hurdles) won their respective events, while Koss anchored junior Sedacy Walden, freshman Zachary Dicken and sophomore Michael Rhoads to a conference title in the 4x400-meter relay (3:10.99).
Molas and Fontaine paced the Falcons to two of the top-three spots in their respective events, while Koss was one of two top-four finishers in the 400-meter dash and Trimble led Air Force to three top-six spots in the 200-meter event. Molas (6.77) and senior Robbie Anderson (6.96) finished first and third, respectively, in the 60-meter dash, while Fontaine (7.96) and senior David Collins (8.04) earned the same placements in the 60-meter hurdles. Koss posted a career-best time of 47.39 to win the program's first indoor title in that event, while junior Sedacy Walden finished fourth with a time of 48.30. Trimble, competing in just his second race of the season, posted a blistering time of 20.93 to win his second-straight conference title at 200 meters, while Molas and Anderson posted career-best times to finish fifth (21.49) and sixth (21.50), respectively, in their second scoring event of the day.
Fontaine, whose win marked the third-straight year that Air Force has won the hurdles, became just the ninth Falcon to break the eight-second mark in the hurdles, while Koss improved his No. 5 standing in the 400-meter dash for the third time this season. In addition, Anderson and Molas accounted for the sixth- and seventh-fastest 200-meter times in program history.
Senior John Reynolds rounded out the Falcons' event champions, as he recorded a clearance of 49'9¼" to capture the program's first-ever Mountain West title in the indoor triple jump by nearly three inches. His run to victory in the triple jump began just minutes after earning a runner-up finish in the high jump. The senior became the sixth Air Force athlete to break seven feet in the indoor high jump, as he finished second with a mark of 7'0½" - the fifth-best jump in program history. Reynolds was one of three Falcons to score for Air Force in that event, as junior Sam Hinegardner finished fourth (6'10¼") and senior Calvin Berstler placed seventh (6'5").
In addition to running the third leg of the winning 4x400-meter relay, Rhoads used an Academy record-tying performance to take second in the 800-meter run. The sophomore posted a raw time of 1:48.83 to finish just 0.09 seconds behind a four-time champion in that event, while the altitude-adjusted time of 1:48.23 equals a program standard that has stood since 1984 (Dan Rojas). Rhoads recorded one of two scoring finishes for the Falcons in that race, as senior Zac Petrie posted a fourth-place time of 1:51.84.
Junior Mickey Davey captured a runner-up finish in the 3000-meter run, as he led Air Force to three of the top five finishes in that event. With an actual time of 8:15.48, Davey debuted in eighth on the program's all-time list (8:03.28a). Senior Andrew Johnston and junior Jacob Bilvado finished fourth (8:17.19) and fifth (8:19.78), respectively, to round out the Falcons' top-five finishers in the 40-runner race.
Backed by huge kick on the final turn, Noah Riley earned a fourth-place finish in the mile to kick off the Falcons' day on the track. With an actual time of 4:09.80 and an altitude-converted time of 4:04.36a, the junior moved into seventh on the Academy's all-time list with that performance. Junior Garrett Coalson and senior Jackson Spalding rounded out the men's scoring finishers on Saturday, as they finished fifth (54'10¼") and seventh (52'2¾"), respectively, in the shot put.
"People might not know the adversity this team came from," head coach Ralph Lindeman said following the meet. "Jamiel was coming off of an injury, so the first race he ran was yesterday, and then he runs 20.93 today. Some of our other guys were coming off of injury too, so I truly thought, going into yesterday, that there would be a five-point margin. Even this morning, I thought we really had to click to win by more than five - it was just incredible how well we clicked."
The women amassed 48 points - its highest point total since 2013 - to finish seventh in the 11-team meet.
Junior Kathryn Tomczak paced Air Force's scorers on Saturday, as she earned runner-up honors in the pole vault with a clearance of 13'2½". The Falcons collected a pair of scoring finishes in that event, as classmate Jerni Self registered a second-best clearance of 12'10¾" to place fifth.
The 4x400-meter relay of sophomore Kelsey Owens, classmate Megan Irvine, junior Aryn Maxwell and freshman Aubrey Ridgeway shattered the Academy record during a third-place performance. The quartet combined for a time of 3:44.47 to take five seconds off of the program record and capture the program's first-ever top-three finish in that indoor relay.
Carina Gillespie rounded out the Falcons' scoring finishers, as she posted a raw time of 9:40.55 to finish fifth in the 42-runner race. The senior, who improved her No. 2 standing on the program's all-time standings with an altitude-converted mark of 9:26.25, was one of two Falcons to impact the record book in that event, as junior Shanna Burns ran a converted time of 9:51.58 to debut in 10th.
"This was their best meet ever," Lindeman said of the women's team. "Two conference champions yesterday, third in the 4x4, second and fifth in the pole vault today ... I am so proud of them. This was a very young team. We came with 28 - 10 freshmen, nine sophomores, six juniors and three seniors."
UNLV tallied 99 points to win its first conference title, while just three points separated Colorado State (second, 85) and Boise State (third, 82) to round out the top three. San Diego State (70) and New Mexico (60.50) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, while Fresno State finished sixth (59.33) and Air Force placed seventh (48). Utah State (eighth, 44.67), Wyoming (ninth, 41), Nevada (10th, 38.50) and San Jose State (11th, 34) rounded out the women's field.
The 2017-18 indoor season concludes at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships on March 9-10 in College Station, Texas. A complete list of qualifiers will be available next week.