FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Air Force cross country team kicked off the 2017 season this evening, as the men placed second and the 29th-ranked women finished third at the Colorado State Invitational in Fort Collins, Colo., on Friday, Sept. 1.
The men placed four of its scoring runners in the top 15 of the collegiate field to finish second in the team standings. Colorado, ranked fifth in the USTFCCCA Preseason Poll, tallied 22 points to win the season opening meet, while the Falcons (66) edged No. 18 Colorado State (68) by two points. CSU Pueblo tallied 120 points to finish fourth, while Western Michigan (fifth, 143), Wyoming (sixth, 177), Metro State (seventh, 210), Colorado Mesa (eighth, 215) and Northern Colorado (ninth, 220) rounded out the team standings.
Clocking a 5K time of 14:58, junior Nathan Thomas finished eighth among collegiate runners – and eighth in the overall field of 120 – to pace the men. Classmate Jacob Bilvado finished 10th with a time of 15:08, while seniors Andrew Johnston and Jimmy Shipley placed 13th (15:11) and 14th (15:12), respectively. Junior Andrew Tankersley clocked in at 15:23 to round out the Falcons’ scorers with a 21st-place finish.
“Our two primary objectives in this meet were to see how our younger guys responded in a competitive environment and to have our veteran guys continue to prepare for our ‘goal races’ this fall,” head coach Ryan Cole said. “As with most meets, there are positives and things to keep working on, but we had a productive start, including strong efforts by Nate Thomas and Nic Cheuvront.”
Backed by a top-five finish from junior Jaci Smith, the women collected five top-20 finishes to finish third in the team standings with 60 points. Top-ranked Colorado won the collegiate meet with 35 points, finishing just one point ahead of Colorado State (second, 36). Air Force finished third, while Wyoming finished fourth with 129 points. Western State rounded out the top five with 155 points, and Northern Colorado (sixth, 162), CSU-Pueblo (seventh, 200), Colorado Mesa (eighth, 226) and Metro State (ninth, 249) completed the full field.
Smith posted a 5K time of 17:58 to finish fourth amongst collegiate runners – and ninth in the full field of 90. Senior Katie Burnham joined Smith in the top 10 of the collegiate lineup, as she posted a seventh-place time of 18:11. Junior Shanna Burns finished 14th with a time of 18:28, while the freshmen duo of Maria Mettler and Mahala Norris finished 17th (18:32) and 18th (18:37), respectively, in their collegiate debut to round out the Falcons’ list of scoring runners.
“As with the men, we wanted to see where our women are at for the beginning of the season,” Cole continued. “Overall, there was a lot of positive to take away, including a very composed run by Katie Burnham and an awesome first college race by newcomer Mahala Norris.”
Sophomore Lindsey Blanks finished right behind Norris in the overall standings, as she clocked a time of 18:39 to finish 24th. Classmate Teri Brady finished 28th with a time of 18:46, while freshman Sarah Bodmer finished within the top half of the field (42nd, 19:16) during her first collegiate race.
In addition to the men’s list of scoring runners, junior Trevor Siniscalchi finished within the top 30 of the overall field (15:24), while classmates Noah Riley (32nd, 15:31) and Nic Cheuvront (34th, 15:35) joined sophomores Justin Weber (37th, 15:39), Marshall Wheeler (38th, 15:42) and Patrick Sullivan (39th, 15:42) in the top 40. Senior Andrew Milliron finished 43rd with a time of 15:46, while junior Josh Wojciechowski (48th, 15:51), sophomore Trevor Whiteside (53rd, 15:5), freshman Alec Schrank (55th, 16:00) and junior Nikolai Rhoads (58th, 16:03) finished within the top half of the overall field.
The Falcons return to action on Saturday, Sept. 16, when they travel to Lincoln, Neb., for the annual Woody Greeno Invitational at Pioneers Park.