June 4, 2012
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Three members of the Air Force track and field team earned regional honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on Monday, June 4. Ralph Lindeman was selected as the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Men's Head Coach of the Year, while Scott Steffan was honored as the Mountain Region Men's Assistant Coach of the Year and Paige Blackburn was selected as the Mountain Region Female Field Athlete of the Year.
Lindeman, who also earned the regional coach of the year award during the 2012 indoor season, led the Falcons to the Mountain West Championship title. The 2012 MW Outdoor Coach of the Year coached a program-record seven conference champions and 17 all-conference selections. Two Academy records were set during 2012, while 21 other incursions were made to the program's top-10 list. The men, who are ranked third in the region, qualified a program-best 15 athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including two who advanced the final site in Des Moines.
Overseeing the Falcons' vertical jumpers, Steffan claimed his first regional award. Backed by two conference titles, his athletes led the Falcons to their first-ever outdoor title, collecting five of the top seven finishes in the pole vault and three of the top four places in the high jump. The Falcons qualified three pole vaulters and two high jumpers to the preliminary round of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, while Cale Simmons, who is ranked third in the nation, qualified to the final site.
Blackburn, the MVP of the women's team, won the Mountain West title in the javelin throw, while adding a runner-up finish in the discus throw. A NCAA participant in both the discus throw and javelin throw, Blackburn scored for the Falcons in all four throwing events at the outdoor conference championships, amassing 21 points. She is the third female to claim the Mountain West Field Athlete of the Year award from the USTFCCCA.
The recipients of the USTFCCCA Regional awards are selected by the coaches of nine regions (Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Mountain, Northeast, South, South Central, Southeast and West). Lindeman, Steffan and Blackburn were three of four USTFCCCA honorees from the Mountain West, as TCU's Whitney Gipson was South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year.
The 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships begin on Wednesday, June 6, in Des Moines, Iowa. Action for Air Force gets underway on Thursday, June 7, when senior Jim Walmsley competes in the national semifinals of the 3000-meter steeplechase.