Track and Field Hands Out Annual Awards
June 3, 2008
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Several members of the Air Force track and field team were honored, as the team recently handed out its yearly awards at the end-of-season banquet. Senior Travis Picou and sophomore Sara Neubauer shared the MVP honor, while senior Ian McFarland and sophomore Melissa Beerse earned the Outstanding Competitor distinction.
Picou, the 2005 Freshman of the Year, concluded his stellar four-year career with three Academy standards (indoor 60-, outdoor 100- and outdoor 200-meter dashes), five Mountain West Conference titles and 12 all-conference accolades. He also holds all four Class records in the 200-meter dash. Neubauer, last year's Most Outstanding Competitor, claimed her first MVP award after rewriting both the indoor and outdoor shot put records. Neubauer also claimed the women's High Point Award for her performances at the conference meets.
McFarland literally ran into the spotlight at the outdoor conference championships, by winning both the 5000- and 10,000-meter events. He was also awarded the Arne Arneson Award for Dedication. This award is named after the Falcons' former head coach and recognizes the individual whom the coaches feel exemplifies the quality of dedication to excellence. After rewriting both the indoor and outdoor program records, Beerse joined McFarland with Outstanding Competitor distinction. She also received the Gail Conway Performance Award, which honors the female athlete with the single-best performance of the season.
Freshmen Noah Palicia and Rachel Simmons were named the Newcomers of the Year for their respective teams. Palicia made an immediate impact in the multi-event record books, moving into seventh in the heptathlon and 10th in the decathlon. Like Palicia, Simmons made an immediate impact on the Falcons' record book, as she pole vaulted into second-place all-time during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Both Palicia (heptathlon) and Simmons (pole vault) set Freshman Class records in their respective events.
Senior Jon Butcher and junior Daniel Castle shared the men's Most Improved award, while sophomore Katie Weber earned the honor on the women's side. At the outdoor conference meet, Butcher placed fifth in the 400-meter hurdles and was a member of the fourth-place 4x400-meter relay team. Castle scored for the Falcons in the 1500-meter run, jumped into fifth on the program's all-time list and qualified for the NCAA Regionals. Weber increased her personal best distance in the javelin, while recording the third-best throw in Academy history.
Sophomore Nick Frawley was named the winner of the Alonzo Babers Performance award after winning the indoor pole vault and receiving all-conference (third-place) honors at the outdoor meet. He qualified to both the indoor and outdoor national championships. The award is dedicated to the former athlete that went on to win two Gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games. It is given annually to the male athlete with the single-best performance of the year.
Two awards were given out to individuals that display strong drive and determination. Senior Josh van Wyngaarden was honored with the Bret Hyde Award, while sophomore Ally Romanko received the Callie Calhoun Award for the second straight season. The Bret Hyde Award is dedicated to the record-holder of the 3000-meter steeplechase that went on to place in the 1984 Olympic Trials and the Callie Calhoun Award is named after a six-time NCAA champion in indoor track, outdoor track and cross country.
Senior David Lissy, the indoor shot put champion, was selected as the Laura Piper Ironman Award winner. The award is given to and individual who competes in, excels in and scores in multiple events at scoring meets. It is named after Laura Piper, who was killed in Operation Desert Shield.
Senior captain Deb Durey was honored with the General Tad Oelstrom Award for Character and Leadership. This honor, which is named after a former Academy superintendent and record-holder, goes to the one senior on the roster that excels academically, militarily and athletically, while classmate Kevin Hawkins received the Falcon Award for Spirit and Enthusiasm. Senior Bruce Fritz earned the Ernie Cunliffe Manager Award for the second time in three seasons. Sullivan becomes just the second manager to earn the honor more than once in a career.