May 30, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Highlighted by an automatic berth into the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships from senior Annette Eichenberger, three members of the Air Force track and field team's Class of 2014 wrapped up the second day of competition at the West Preliminary in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday, May 30.
Eichenberger earned an automatic berth to the national championship in Eugene, Ore., after claiming a top-three finish in her heat of the quarterfinal. With the top three from each heat, as well as the next three fastest overall runners, earning a spot in the semifinals on June 11, Eichenberger clocked a time of 2:06.52 to easily capture the #3 spot in her heat, bettering the rest of the field by over one second. Her time, 12th overall, was the second-fastest time of her career.
Senior Kassie Gurnell recorded a distance of 41'7" on her final attempt in the triple jump. After fouling on her opening jump, the newly commissioned second lieutenant posted a mark of 41'2¼" on her second attempt. As one of the top 16 competitors in the 48-member field, Gurnell earned an additional three jumps. Entering her final attempt in 16th place, Gurnell posted a distance of 41'7" to improve her placement by four spots and finish 12th in a tight field.
UPDATE ON TRIPLE JUMP: After the triple jump was completed, it was discovered that another competitors' "best" mark had been erroneously listed. Once the correct mark was entered, that competitor moved into 11th, which bumped the remaining athletes down one place and moved Gurnell into 13th - one spot out of the qualifying list to Eugene.
On the men's side, classmate Gavin Owens closed out his Air Force career with a 21st-place finish in the quarterfinals of the 3000-meter steeplechase. Owens crossed the finish line in 8:59.36 - the second-fastest time of his career - to place sixth in his heat.
The Falcons close out action at the West Prelim tomorrow (May 31) when seniors Rachel Herald and Isaiah Bragg vie for top-12 spots in the high jump (6:00 p.m. CT) and 5000-meter run (8:05 p.m.), respectively.