LOGAN, Utah – With all five scoring runners placing within the top 40, the 16th-ranked Air Force men’s cross country team finished fifth at the highly competitive NCAA Mountain Regional this morning (Nov. 10) in Logan, Utah. The women, who saw three runners finish within the top 30, earned a sixth-place finish in their regional race.
Competing in his first regional meet, junior Mickey Davey clocked a 10K-debut of 30:32.0 to finish eighth out of 121 runners and pace a trio of top-25 Air Force finishers. Classmate Jacob Bilvado deleted nearly one minute from his previous Reeder course time (30:44.2) to finish 16th, while senior Andrew Johnston took 20 seconds off of his time from last year’s regional (30:54.3) to place 22nd. Senior Jimmy Shipley recorded a time of 31:15.2 – a time that was more than one minute better than his 10K from last year (31:15.2) to finish 32nd, while sophomore Patrick Sullivan posted a 10K debut of 31:23.5 to finish 40th and round out the Falcons’ scoring contingent.
The 16th-ranked men tallied 118 points to finish fifth in the 18-team event. Top-ranked Northern Arizona won the Mountain Regional with 49 points, while second-ranked BYU (79) edged fifth-ranked Colorado (80) for the runner-up spot by just one point. Colorado State, ranked eighth in the national standings, registered 103 points to take fourth, while the Falcons rounded out the top-five and finished ahead of 12th-ranked Southern Utah (sixth, 127).
“Both teams ran strong today,” head coach Ryan Cole said. “Our men had another full effort. The first four guys have been steady all year long and we again had a different guy step up in our fifth spot. But all seven guys had positive runs and it was great to see the men advance.”
On the women’s side, junior Jaci Smith clocked a time of 20:17.0 – a two-second improvement from last year’s regional – to finish sixth out of 133 runners and pace Air Force to a sixth-place finish – its fourth top-six finish in five years. Smith was one of two top-20 finishes for the Falcons, as senior Carina Gillespie clocked a time of 20:30.3 to finish 15th in the overall field. Freshman Mahala Norris clocked a time of 21:01.6 to finish 30th in her first regional meet, while sophomore Lindsey Blanks and senior Giulianna Vessa rounded out the Falcons’ list of scorers after clocking respective times of 21:32.3 (65th, career-best regional time) and 21:33.4 (67th, first regional appearance in Utah).
Air Force, which was receiving votes in the latest poll, scored 183 points to finish sixth out of 19 teams in the women’s race – and defeat one nationally-ranked team. Top-ranked Colorado won the regional with 62 points, while second-ranked New Mexico finished just eight points back to earn runner-up honors. BYU, ranked 18th in the national standings, finished third with 113 points, while 12th-ranked Utah State finished fourth (125) on their home course. Utah, which was also receiving votes in the latest rankings, tallied 149 points to round out the top five.
“The women had an inspired run today, led again by Jaci and Carina,” Cole said. “We finished ahead of where we were ranked going in and walked away from the course knowing we did what we could. Unfortunately with how the other regions played out, it wasn’t enough to advance as a team, but we’re extremely excited for Jaci to qualify and make it three years in a row we’ve had a female competing at the NCAA meet.”
Four more Falcons also competed in their respective races this morning at the Reeder Cross Country Course. Juniors Noah Riley and Nathan Thomas helped Air Force place its full seven-member lineup within the top half of the field. In his first 10,000-meter race, Riley clocked a time of 31:34.8 to finish 49th, while Thomas took more than one minute off of his course time from last year’s regional (31:45.0) to finish 54th. On the women’s side, senior Katie Burnham clocked a time of 21:58.0 to place 90th and junior Shanna Burns posted her best time on the Reeder course (22:05.3) to finish 97th.
The 2017 cross country season comes to a close next Saturday (Nov. 18) at the NCAA Championships in Louisville. The official list of teams and individual qualifiers will be announced later this weekend.