May 17, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Air Force track and field team qualified a program-record 19 athletes to the West Preliminary of the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the national selection committee announced this afternoon (May 17). The Falcons will travel to Austin, Texas, on May 24-26 for the opening round of national competition.
Air Force qualified multiple athletes in the men's pole vault, high jump and hammer throw, as well as the women's 1500-meter run and javelin throw. In addition, seniors Bryce Bergman, Jim Walmsley and Paige Blackburn qualified to the national meet in multiple events.
Bergman qualified in both hurdle events, as he is ranked 32nd in the 400-meter hurdles (51.82, altitude) and 43rd in the 110-meter event (12.28, altitude). Walmsley, the Mountain West champion in both the 3000-meter steeplechase and 5000-meter run, will compete in those two events at the preliminary meet. He enters the national semifinals of the 5000-meter run ranked 16th with a time of 13:52.87 and the national quarterfinals of the 3000-meter steeplechase ranked 37th with a time of 8:58.66.
A team-leading three Falcons will compete in the national semifinals of the men's pole vault. Junior Cale Simmons, the MW champion, is ranked fourth in the west with an Academy-record clearance of 18'1¾", while freshman Joey Uhle and junior Chase Cooper are ranked 26th (17'2¾") and 45th (16'10¾"), respectively, in that event.
Air Force will also send multiple athletes to compete in the high jump and hammer throw. Junior Zach Wood, the Mountain West outdoor champion, and freshman Kobi Rex, the MW indoor champion, will compete in the national semifinals of the high jump with matching clearances of 6'11" (marks that are tied for 13th in the preliminary field), while seniors Rob Drye and Sean Herbison qualified to the national semifinals of the hammer throw. Drye, the Mountain West hammer throw champion during each of the last two seasons, is currently ranked 13th in the region with a distance of 204'0", while Herbison is ranked 30th with a distance of 196'10".
The men will also be represented in four additional events at the NCAA Championship (West Preliminary). Senior Alex Zubey enters the preliminary meet ranked 29th in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:46.01, while junior Andrew Quallio is ranked 46th in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 29:51.07. Senior James Cole, a 2011 All-America (honorable mention) selection, enters the national semifinals of the discus throw with an Academy-record mark of 183'9", while sophomore Tim Urista is ranked 26th in the javelin throw with a mark of 216'11".
On the women's side, Blackburn will compete in both the discus throw and javelin throw. The 2012 Mountain West champion in the javelin, Blackburn enters the western preliminary ranked sixth with a distance of 170'5". She also holds a top-20 ranking in the discus throw, where she is ranked 19th with a career-best throw of 174'8".
Blackburn is one of two Falcons to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the javelin throw, as sophomore Kim Smith qualified with a No. 47 ranking behind a clearance of 144'9".
Air Force also qualified a pair of runners in the women's 1500-meter event - marking just the second time the women's team has been represented on the track at the preliminary round. Junior Morgan Mosby, the MW 1500-meter champion, is ranked 28th in the west with an altitude-adjusted Academy record time of 4:23.74, while classmate Melissa Fuerst, the conference runner-up at that distance, is ranked 48th with an altitude-adjusted time of 4:27.43.
In addition, sophomore Kassie Gurnell will represent the Falcons in the triple jump, while senior Kimber Shealy qualified to the NCAA Championships in the pole vault. Backed by an Academy record distance of 42'3½", Gurnell enters the preliminary round of the triple jump ranked 15th. Shealy, the Academy record holder in the pole vault at 13'1¾", is ranked 38th in her event.
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 Jacksonville, Fla. The top 12 athletes from each preliminary site will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which will be held Jun 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.