May 16, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Air Force track and field qualified a program-record 23 athletes to the West Preliminary of the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the national selection committee announced this afternoon (May 17). The Falcons, who earned 25 total entries, will travel to Austin, Texas, on May 23-25 for the opening round of national competition.
Air Force qualified multiple athletes in both the men's and women's 1500-meter run, as well as the men's 10,000-meter run, pole vault, discus throw, hammer throw and javelin throw. In addition, seniors Matt Bell and Brian Ford qualified to the preliminary meet in multiple events.
Bell qualified in the two longest distance events, as he is ranked 41st in the 5000-meter run (14:06.41) and 48th in the 10,000-meter run (29:51.16), while Ford advanced in the hammer throw (31st, 198'2") and discus throw (35th, 176'11"). Bell will be joined in the semigfinal of the 10,000-meter run by classmate Jeremy Drenckhahn, who is ranked 18th on the meet's declared list with a time of 29:28.81, while Ford is one of two Falcons competing in both the discus throw (senior James Chambers, 28th, 180'1') and hammer throw (junior Jalen Fooster, 48th, 192'6").
Highlighted by three top-10 regional rankings, a trio of Falcons will compete in the national semifinals of the pole vault. Senior Cale Simmons, the 2013 Mountain West outdoor champion, is ranked third in the pole vault with his Academy- and conference-record clearance of 18'4¾", while sophomore Joey Uhle, who won the conference's indoor title this year, is listed fifth at 18'1". Senior Rob Simmons, the runner-up at last week's MW Championships, is ranked ninth in the region with a clearance of 18'0½".
Air Force also qualified multiple athletes to compete in the 1500-meter run and javelin throw. Sophomore Zach Perkins, the conference champion in the 1500-meter run, is ranked 26th in the region with a championship-meet time of 3:44.38, while junior Jake Hawkins is ranked 41st behind a time of 3:46.27. Freshman Garrett Griffin, one of two Air Force freshmen to qualify for the NCAA Championships, will lead a pair of Falcons in the javelin throw, as he and junior Tim Urista are ranked 32nd (215'10") and 38th (211'10"), respectively, in the west's national semifinal standings.
The men will also be represented in four additional events at the West Preliminary. On the track, junior Alex Lindsay enters the first-round ranked 21st in the 800-meter run (1:49.25), while senior Uzor Udensi is listed 39th in the 200-meter dash (21.30). Freshman Grant Hamilton earned his first appearance in the national semifinals of the shot put with a No. 33 ranking (57'1½"), while sophomore Kobi Rex is ranked 44th in the high jump standings with a clearance of 6'10¾".
On the women's side, seniors Morgan Mosby and Melissa Fuerst qualified to the preliminary meet in the 1500-meter run, as the pair is ranked 23rd (Academy-record 4:23.28) and 41st (4:25.89), respectively, in that event. Classmate Jen Bremser earned a spot in the opening round of the 3000-meter steeplechase, as the Academy record-holder is ranked 28th in the region with a time of 10:26.31.
Junior Annette Eichenberger holds the best regional ranking for the women's team, as she qualified to Austin with a No. 15 ranking in the 800-meter run (2:06.63).
Three women qualified to the NCAA Championships (West Preliminary) from the field events. Junior Kassie Gurnell is ranked 30th in the region's triple jump standings with a distance of 41'2¼", while senior Bizzy Mellado is ranked 39th in the pole vault with a career-best matching clearance of 12'11½". Sophomore Nikki Freeman rounds out the list of qualifiers to the NCAA meet, as she is ranked 41st in the javelin throw with a distance of 147'2".
Action for the three-day NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships (West Preliminary) will be held at Michael A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas. The meet will run simultaneously with the East Preliminary in Greensboro, N.C. The top 12 athletes in each event from each preliminary site will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which will be held June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.