June 9, 2014
The collegiate track and field season comes to a close this week, as senior Annette Eichenberger travels to Eugene, Ore., for the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The meet, which will run from June 11-14, will be held at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
The 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., for the second straight year. The four-day meet begins on Wednesday, June 11, and continues through Saturday, June 14. The national semifinals of the 800-meter run will take place at 4:45 p.m. (PST) on Wednesday, June 11, while the top two finishers from each heat, as well as the next two fastest overall runners, will advance to the national finals on Friday, June 13, at 5:25 p.m. (PST).
HOW SHE GOT THERE
Annette Eichenberger advanced to the national championship meet based on her top-12 finish at the West Preliminary Meet over the May 29-31 weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. With a time of 2:06.52 in the regional final, Eichenberger finished third in her heat to secure an automatic bid to the national site.
The 2014 NCAA Championships marks the first appearance at the national meet for Annette Eichenberger. Her trip marks only the second time in the last decade that a member of the women's team has advanced to the final site in a running event, as Ally Romanko competed in the 800-meter run at the 2010 championships in Eugene. Air Force has sent three throwers - Olivia Korte, Sara Neubauer, Dana Pounds - to the NCAA finals a total of seven times during that span.
BY THE NUMBERS
Fifteen Falcons (men and women) have claimed All-America status a total of 22 times at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, while the women have accounted for 24 additional awards (11 individuals, three relays) as members of NCAA Division II (1981-96). Former Falcons Nick Frawley, Sara Neubauer and Dana Pounds lead the Academy's Division I history with three All-America certificates apiece, while Pounds (javelin throw, 2005 and 2006) is one of two NCAA champions for Air Force at the Division I level, joining Jim Murphy, who won the 5000-meter title in 1964.
SO HEARTBREAKINGLY CLOSE
For several hours on May 30, it appeared Kassie Gurnell would be the program's first female triple jumper to advance to the NCAA finals. Entering her final attempt ranked 16th, Gurnell recorded a leap of 41'7" - her best distance of the day - to earn a top-12 spot. However, after the event was completed, it was discovered that another competitors' best mark had been erroneously listed at 41'6". Once the proper mark (41'7¾") was entered, that athlete moved into 11th, which bumped the remaining athletes down one place and moved Gurnell in 13th - one spot out of the qualifying list to Eugene.
CORONA IMPROVES CAREER-BEST TIME
During the first day of competition at the West Preliminary Meet, Patrick Corona clocked the eighth-fastest 1500-meter time in Academy history. Crossing the finish line in a career-best 3:44.96 to improve his standing on the program's all-time list, Corona placed seventh in his heat and 28th overall.
MOVING ON UP
Three Falcons finished at least 10 places ahead of their regional seeding during the West Preliminary Meet on May 29-31. The trio was paced by Darby Maier, who posted the best distance in the opening flight of the shot put (51'3") to finish 23rd overall ... 16 places higher than his regional ranking. Blue Kearney finished 14 places above his seeding in the long jump after finishing 19th with a mark of 23'10¼", while Isaiah Bragg finished 11 places above his seeding in the 10,000-meter run (36th, 31:09.35) and 10 places above his entry mark in the 5000-meter run (35th, 14:44.16).
MORE NEWS FROM THE PRELIMINARY MEET
Four additional members of the track and field team finished within the top half of the field at the West Preliminary Meet. Dylan Bell (17'3") finished just two spots shy of advancing to the NCAA finals in the pole vault after placing 14th based on attempts, while Joey Uhle and Cort Rogers finished tied for 16th with a jump of 16'9¼". Grant Hamilton finished 19th in the shot put (57'2¾") and Gavin Owens finished 21st in the 3000-meter steeplechase (8:59.36).
TRIO EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONORS
Rebecca Esselstein, Josh Nielsen and Regan Rogers were named to the Capital One Academic All-District VII Team for track and field and cross country, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced on May 29. While it marks the eighth straight year that at least one Air Force athlete has been named an academic all-district selection, the three honorees are tied for the most in Academy history during a single season.