Oct. 13, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Air Force men's and women's cross country team claimed top-20 finishes at the prestigious Pre-Nationals meet on Saturday, Oct. 13, in Louisville, Ky. Running at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, the site of this year's national championship meet, the men finished 17th and the women placed 18th in their respective 40-team Red Races.
Senior Jen Bremser posted Air Force's highest finish of the day, as she finished 50th in the 265-runner 6K race with a time of 21:02.4. Classmate Melissa Fuerst also placed within the top 100, as she used a season-best time of 21:28.4, while freshman Anna Olesinski and sophomore Rebecca Esselstein placed within the top half of the field. Olesinski cut over one minute off of her personal best time at the 6K distance to place 124th in a time of 21:48.1, while Esselstein posted a career-best 21:49.2 to finish 127th. Sophomore Heather Connick rounded out the Falcons' five scoring runners with a 157th-place time of 22:00.9 (a time just 0:00.3 shy of her career best).
The Falcons combined for 546 points to place 18th in the field of 40. Top-ranked Florida State won the women's race with 72 points, after placing four individuals within the top 17. Fourth-ranked Oregon placed three within the top 18 to finish second with 87 points, while No. 8 Michigan finished third with 141 points. No. 6 Georgetown (fourth, 163 pts) and No. 33 Texas (fifth, 184) rounded out the top five.
On the men's side, junior Isaiah Bragg paced the Falcons with a career-best time of 24:11.3 to place 64th in the 272-runner 8K race. Seniors Jeremy Drenckhahn and Andrew Quallio finished within just 0:00.1 second of one another to add a pair of additional top-100 finishes to the Falcons' scoring line. Drenckhahn crossed the finish line in a career-best 24:19.8 to finish 83rd, while Quallio was on his heels to finish 84th with a time of 24:19.9. Fellow senior Matt Bell clocked a time of 24:33.0 to finish 107th, while junior Lance Wolfsmith clocked a time that was just 0:00.3 off of his career best (25:45.4) to place 137th and round out the Falcons' scoring runners.
Air Force collected 475 points to finish 17th in the 40-team event. With all five scoring runners finishing within the top 25, seventh-ranked Colorado easily won the meet with just 72 points. Third-ranked BYU finished second with 127 points, while No. 15 Oregon (third, 152 points), No. 14 Florida State (fourth, 275) and unranked Duke (fifth, 287) rounded out the top five.
Senior Kate Kanetzky and freshman Hannah Everson also competed in the women's Red Race, although their finishes did not count toward the overall team score. Kanetzky clocked a season-best time of 22:13.4 to place 177th, while Everson finished right behind her with a career-best time of 22:13.9 (178th). On the men's side, sophomore Elliot Myers placed 150th in the 8K Red event with a time of 24:52.7.
In addition to the six men that competed in the Red Race, sophomore Riley Coates and junior Jake Hawkins competed in the unseeded Black Race, which featured additional runners from the Red Race programs, as well as athletes from 24 other schools. Coates placed 23rd in the 278-runner 8K race with a time of 24:47.5, while Hawkins, making his first cross country appearance of the 2012 season, finished 149th with a time of 26:12.1.
The Falcons are off from competition next weekend, as they prepare for the 2012 Mountain West Cross Country Championships, which will be held on Friday, Oct. 26, at Silver Bowl Park in Las Vegas, Nev. The women will open the day with a 6K final at 10 a.m. (PST), while the men will follow with an 8K championship race at 11 a.m.