MADISON, Wis. -- Junior Mickey Davey and senior Andrew Johnston paced the 23rd-ranked Air Force men's cross country team to an 11th-place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational this afternoon (Oct. 13) in Madison. The pair, who placed within the top 40 of a meet that featured more than half of the nation's Top-30 programs, helped the men to its best finish ever at Wisconsin.
Davey, running in his first 8K since his freshmen year, clocked a time of 24:08.1 to finish 30th out of 243 runners, while Johnston was just five spots back, placing 35th with a time of 24:13.0. Four of the Falcons' five scoring runners finished within the top 90, as junior Jacob Bilvado and senior Jimmy Shipley finished 68th (24:29.5) and 88th (24:38.5), respectively. Junior Andrew Tankersley rounded out Air Force's scoring contingent, as he clocked a time of 25:01.1 to finish 143rd.
The men accounted for 364 points to finish 11th in a 35-team event that included 20 of the top-30 programs in the country. With that finish -- its best at a Wisconsin meet -- Air Force placed ahead of nine nationally-ranked teams, including six that were ranked higher in the USTFCCCA standings and three that were listed among the Top-15 (No. 13 Iona: 17th, No. 14 Iowa State: 16th, No. 15 Boise State: 21st).
Top-ranked Northern Arizona won the meet with 50 points, while 25th-ranked Portland took second with 123 points. Just six points separated the next three teams, as third-ranked Syracuse (151), fourth-ranked Stanford (155) and 10th-ranked Furman (157) rounded out the top five.
In the women's first 6K of the season, junior Jaci Smith recorded a time of 20:52.2 to finish 58th out of 227 runners. Smith was one of three Falcons to place within the top 100, as freshman Mahala Norris clocked the 10th-fastest time by a freshman at the meet (20:55.2) to finish 63rd overall and senior Carina Gillespie took 96th with a time of 21:16.4. Sophomore Lindsey Blanks clocked a 21:49.8 to finish 157th, while junior Shanna Burns rounded out the scoring lineup with a 168th-place time of 21:57.2.
The Falcons totaled 542 points to finish 22nd in the 33-team event -- a placement that was ahead of four squads receiving votes in the latest USTFCCCA national poll. The 22nd-place finish also marked the program's best finish at that meet since 2010, when they finished 18th.
Third-ranked New Mexico finished first with 87 points, while sixth-ranked San Francisco took second (126). Seventh-ranked NC State (third, 169), No. 13 Boise State (fourth, 233) and No. 8 Providence (fifth, 253) rounded out the top-five of a race that featured 16 of the top-30 teams in the NCAA.
"Both groups competed tough, but appeared a little fatigued from training the last few weeks," head coach Ryan Cole said. "We mentally stayed dialed-in and ran hard in probably the most competitive meet outside of the NCAA Championships. The ability to mentally dial-in when fatigued is a developed skill and will be a huge asset as we move into the championship part of the season."
In addition to Air Force's scoring runners, four other Falcons also competed at the Nuttycombe Invitational this afternoon. Senior Andrew Milliron finished 174th (25:14.2) and junior Noah Riley placed 201st (25:38.4) in the men's race, while sophomore Teri Brady and senior Katie Burnham finished 170th (21:58.0) and 216th (22:59.8), respectively, in the women's event.
Air Force returns to action on Friday, Oct. 27, when it travels to Albuquerque, N.M., for the 2017 Mountain West Cross Country Championships at UNM North Golf Course.