NEW ORLEANS -- Air Force head coach Ralph Lindeman and junior high jumper Shelley Spires were honored by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association this afternoon (June 4), as the USTFCCCA announced its regional award winners for the 2017 outdoor season. Lindeman was named the Mountain Region Men's Head Coach of the Year, while Spires was tabbed as the Women's Field Athlete of the Year for the Mountain Region.
Lindeman, who is in his 28th season as the Falcons' head coach, guided the men's team to the Mountain West Outdoor team title, a program-record 22 bids to the preliminary round of the NCAA Outdoor Championships (the eighth-highest total in the nation) and six bids to the final rounds in Eugene. Lindeman, the 2017 Mountain West Outdoor Coach of the Year, saw his athletes collect five conference titles, a program-best 22 all-MW awards and at least one scoring finish in all 21 events at last month's conference championship meet. The Falcons, who earned their fourth outdoor title in six years, registered the league's highest point total since 2006 (218.50) and the largest margin-of-victory since 2010 (53 points). Under his watch, the men accounted for four Academy records and made 29 additional improvements to the program's all-time standings during the second half of the season.
It is the sixth USTFCCCA coaching award for Lindeman, who has captured the region's outdoor award four times in the last six years (2012, 2013, 2016, 2017). In addition to his outdoor honors, the Falcons' mentor was also named the top indoor coach of the Mountain Region in 2012 and 2016.
Spires, who was also named the region's top female field athlete during the indoor season, finished the regular season ranked fifth in the NCAA with a career-best clearance of 6'1½". The junior, who finished in a tie for first at the NCAA West Preliminary meet, became the first Air Force high jumper to ever clear six feet in competition. Surpassing that bar three times, she reset her own program standard during every instance and currently holds the second-best clearance in Mountain West history with her program-best clearance of 6'1½". An outdoor all-conference honoree for the second straight year, Spires finished first in five-of-six regular season meets this season.
Claiming her second Mountain Region award of the year, Spires is the first member of the Falcons' program (men or women) to earn regional honors from the USTFCCCA more than once in a career.
Lindeman, Spires and nine additional members of the Air Force track and field team will close out the 2017 collegiate season this week (June 7-10), when they compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.