The indoor season comes to a close this weekend, as two members of the Air Force track and field team travel to College Station, Texas, for the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships. Senior Shelley Spires (high jump) and sophomore Michael Rhoads (800-meter run) will represent the Academy at the meet, which begins on Friday, March 9.
The 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships will take place at Texas A&M’s Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Stations, Texas, on Friday-Saturday (March 9-10). All-session general admission tickets start at $26 for adults and $20 for youth, while single-day admission is $15 for adults and $10 for youth. Overall action gets underway at noon both days (a list of competition times for Air Force athletes are listed in the Meet Information box).
IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT TO THE MEET
ESPN3 will stream the meet both days, with action beginning at 5:00 p.m. (CT) on Friday and 4:00 p.m. (CT) on Saturday. Live stats will also be available through FlashResults.com and the Championship Central page at 12thman.com (direct links to streams and stats can be found on the Falcons’ schedule page).
WHERE THEY RANK IN THE NCAA
Shelley Spires is tied for seventh in the NCAA high jump after posting a season-best clearance of 6’0¾” at the Air Force Invitational, while Michael Rhoads’ Academy-record 800-meter time of 1:48.22 (adjusted for altitude) at the Mountain West Indoor Championships is 17th in the nation and 15th among the list of NCAA competitors.
MORE INFO ON THE “SWEET 16” CONTENDERS
Shelley Spires, who will be making her second-straight appearance in the high jump lineup at the NCAA Indoor Championships, after capturing first-team All-America status last year with a sixth-place finish, is the first Air Force female to make multiple trips to the indoor championship meet. It is the third national final overall for the senior, who collected second-team All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last spring. Michael Rhoads will be making his first appearance at a national championship meet, although the sophomore did travel to last year’s outdoor meet as an alternate for the 4x400-meter relay.
The Falcons have combined for 27 All-America accolades at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships. Paul Gensic, Cale Simmons, Jamiel Trimble, Justin Tyner, Joey Uhle and Doug Withers are the program’s most decorated indoor All-Americans, with two individual honors apiece. Tyner, who was the top American finisher in the 5000-meter run at the 2010 championships, also captured All-America honors as a member of the distance medley relay that competed at the 2011 meet. The women previously accounted for 23 All-America nods at the NCAA Division II level, with Callie Calhoun and Jill Wood earning national titles.
LOOKING AT THE NATIONAL LANDSCAPE
Air Force finished the regular season with three athletes listed among the top-20 of the national standings – and eight ranked in the top 40. Shelley Spires is tied for seventh in the high jump (6’0¾”), while Kathryn Tomczak is tied for 16th in the pole vault (14’0½”) and Michael Rhoads is ranked 17th in the 800-meter run (1:48.22a). In addition, Jaci Smith (28th in the 5000-meter run, 15:59.91a), John Reynolds (31st in the triple jump, 51’6¼”), Calvin Berstler (34th in the heptathlon, 5418), Jacob Bilvado (35th in the 5000-meter run, 13:56.89) and Jamiel Trimble (40th in the 200-meter dash, 20.93) are all listed among the nation’s top 40.
Although this is an unofficial statistical category, Air Force had three squads listed among the top-15 of the final USTFCCCA Event Group Rankings (measured by totaling the team’s top four individual performances in each event from meets before the conference championship weekend). The men’s 5000-meter contingent of Jacob Bilvado, Mickey Davey, Andrew Johnston and Jimmy Shipley was ranked eighth (56:23.0), while the pole vault groups of Connor Stevens, Sam Hinegardner, Justin Harmon and Logan Grizzle was ranked 12th (66’1¼”) and the high jump rotation of John Reynolds, Hinegardner, Jake LaCoste and Calvin Berstler was ranked 14th (27’2¼”).
LINDEMAN SERVES AS TEAM USA HEAD COACH AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
During the eight-day span between the Mountain West and NCAA Championship meets, Ralph Lindeman served as the men’s head coach for Team USA at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England. Lindeman, who was making his eighth career appearance on a Team USA staff, saw the men account for nine of Team USA’s 18-medal haul, with two gold, five silver and two bronze.
WHAT’S ON DECK
With the indoor season complete, Air Force heads outdoors. The Falcons open the second half of the season on March 16-17, when they travel to Boulder for the Jerry Quiller Classic.