March 24, 2013
TEMPE, Ariz. - With two incursions to the program's top-10 list and a pair of first-place finishes, the Air Force track and field team wrapped up competition at the Arizona State Invitational on Saturday, March 23, in Tempe, Ariz.
The women's triple jump accomplished both feats, as junior Kassie Gurnell won the event and freshman Angelea Ross debuted on the program's all-time list. Gurnell recorded a season-best distance of 41'0¼" to win the event, while Ross tallied a career-best mark of 37'9¼" to take fourth. With that distance, Ross debuted in a tie for seventh on the Academy's top-10 list.
Gurnell also ran the anchor leg of the 4x400-meter relay squad that accounted for the fifth-fastest time in Academy history. In their first race of the season at that distance, freshman Naomi Alston, senior Bethany Gross, sophomore Morgan Malone and Gurnell combined for a time of 3:51.82.
The Falcons claimed their second event title from sophomore Nikki Freeman, who won the javelin throw for the second straight week with a distance of 141'1". Freeman was one of three Falcons to place within the top 10 of that event, as juniors Kim Smith and Alana Piccone finished fifth (135'11") and eighth (125'0"), respectively.
Air Force also picked up three top-10 finishes in the high jump, backed by season-best marks from all three competitors. Senior Lesly Torres finished third with a height of 5'5¼", while juniors Rachel Herald and Regan Rogers finished fifth and sixth, respectively, with matching marks of 5'5¼". Torres captured another top-10 finish, as she recorded a career-best distance of 17'2" to take 10th in the long jump.
In addition to their leg of the 4x400-meter relay team, Alston and Gross also finished within the top 10 of their respective individual events. Alston clocked a time of 12.89 to finish seventh in the 100-meter dash, while Gross finished ninth in the 400-meter race with a time of 57.44.
The Falcons added three more top-10 finishes on the women's side, including a pair of sixth-place marks. Sophomore Rebecca Esselstein clocked in a sixth-place time of 2:14.69 in the 800-meter run, while senior Bizzy Mellado earned the same placement in the pole vault with a height of 12'8¼". Sophomore Danielle Tabb rounded out the contingent of top-10 finishers, as she finished ninth in the shot put with a distance of 46'4¼".
On the men's side, sophomore Kobi Rex made his 2013 debut with a 6'10¾" clearance in the high jump to finish as the top collegiate in that event. Rex, one of four Falcons to place among the top seven, finished third overall. Senior Travis Smith finished fourth with a mark of 6'6¾", while sophomore Evan McDowell and senior Michael Tibbs finished sixth (6'4¾") and seventh (6'2¾"), respectively.
Air Force also placed four among the top eight of the pole vault standings. Senior Cale Simmons and sophomore Joey Uhle finished second and third, respectively, with matching clearances of 17'3", while junior Cort Rogers and senior Rob Simmons rounded out the quartet with respective eighth- (16'7¼") and ninth-place (16'1¼") finishes.
In addition to his sixth-place finish in the high jump, McDowell earned top-10 times in both hurdle events. He finished fifth in the 400-meter hurdles (55.19) and 10th in the 110-meter hurdles (15.35). McDowell was joined in the top-10 of those two events by freshman Joe Wilkin (110-meter hurdles, 15.22, eighth) and sophomore Siotame Latu (400-meter hurdles, 56.19, ninth).
The Falcons claimed multiple top-10 finishes in three additional events. Senior Anthony Delgado was the runner-up in the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.77, while junior Josh Nielsen finished seventh in 50.07. From the field, junior Tim Urista and senior Paul Rishel finished third (211'10") and 10th (172'4"), respectively, in the javelin throw, while senior James Chambers (sixth, 170'8") and freshman Grant Hamilton (ninth, 155'5") claimed top-10 finishes in the discus throw.
Delgado and Nielsen also ran on both top-three relay squads. The pair joined junior David Ptacek and sophomore Jake Spuller on the 4x400-meter relay team that crossed the finish line in a time of 3:18.21 to take second, while Delgado, Nielsen, Spuller and senior Uzor Udensi combined to finish third in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 41.47.
Sophomore Riley Coates was the runner-up in the 3000-meter steeplechase (9:26.97), while classmate Blue Kearney earned a third-place finish in the long jump (23'0¾"). Fellow sophomore Elliot Myers placed fifth in his 5000-meter debut (14:39.84), while Udensi (200-meter dash, 21.68), Chambers (shot put, 53'3½") and freshman Grant Caswell (800-meter run, 1:56.70) all tallied eighth-place finishes in their respective events to round out the field of Air Force's top-10 performers.
The Falcons return to action next weekend (March 29-30), as they split up for several meets. Select athletes will travel to the Texas Relays (Austin, Texas) and the Stanford Invitational (Palo Alto, Calif.), while other members of the team will compete at various meets around the country during the Academy's spring break.