Sept. 14, 2012
The Air Force cross country team returns to action on Saturday (Sept. 15), when it heads to Lincoln, Neb., for the 23rd-annual Woody Greeno Invitational at Pioneers Park. The women will open the day with a 6K race at 10 a.m. (CST), while the men will start their 8K race at 10:45 a.m.
The Woody Greeno Invitational, one of the largest races in the Midwest, features 57 teams and nearly 700 athletes. The meet began in 1990 when Nebraska Wesleyan combined its annual meet with Nebraska's annual meet. Team and individual titles will be awarded to runners at both the University and College divisions.
To get to Pioneers Park from I-80, take exit 397 and south on Homestead Expressway. Take a right on Capital Parkway West, which will turn into South Coddington Avenue. After crossing Van Dorn Street, you will enter Pioneers Park from the east.
The men won last year's Woody Greeno Invitational (University Division), backed by former Falcon Jim Walmsley's second straight individual title. In addition to the 2011 title, Air Force has also won the men's team title in 1999 (tie), 2000, 2003 and 2004. The Falcons' five titles are the second-most for a single school in meet history, trailing only co-host Nebraska. Walmsley's winning time of 24:15.3 in 2011 is ranked sixth on the course's all-time list.
WOMEN START OUT STRONG
The women had a strong start to the season, taking five of the top seven places at the Colorado State Open on Aug. 31. Jen Bremser and Melissa Fuerst finished second and third, respectively, in the women's 5K race, while Anna Olesinski (fifth), Rebecca Esselstein (sixth) and Hannah Everson (seventh) rounded out the Falcons' top-10 finishers.
RECAPPING THE MEN'S CSU OPEN
Carl Eifert led the men's contingent during the Colorado State Open, placing 16th. Ted Artz (18th) and Carson Fugal (23rd) also picked up top-25 finishes in the men's 5K event.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Senior Andrew Quallio was selected as the team captain for the men's team, while classmates Jen Bremser and Melissa Fuerst will share the captaincy of the women's team. Quallio's selection marks just the third time in the last decade that a single runner has served as team captain for the men's team.
CLOSE TO HOME
Four of the Falcons' nine competitions will take place within the state of Colorado. In addition to the season-opening Colorado State Open, Air Force will return to Fort Collins in November for the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships. The Falcons will also compete in Boulder (Rocky Mountain Open) and Denver (Metro State Invitational).
Air Force returns four of its five all-conference honorees from last season. Jeremy Drenckhahn was a first-team all-conference selection for the men in 2011, while Isaiah Bragg and Andrew Quallio earned second-team honors. On the women's side, Melissa Fuerst claimed second-team honors.
MEN PICKED SECOND IN PRESEASON POLL
The men were picked to finish second in the annual Mountain West Preseason Coaches' Poll. Air Force earned one first-place vote and 21 total points, finishing just three points behind reigning conference champion New Mexico. The women's team was chosen fourth in the preseason poll, collecting 43 points from the nine league coaches.
LEADING THE WAY
Air Force is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Juli Benson, the 2010 Mountain West Coach of the Year. The men have finished within the conference's top three each year, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2011. The women have placed fourth during each season of Benson's tenure, which is the program's best placement since 2003.
The Falcons are off until Saturday, Sept. 29, when they split for a pair of competitions. Part of the team will travel to Lawrence, Kan., for the Rim Rock Farm Collegiate Classic, while the remainder of the squad will compete at the Rocky Mountain Shootout in Boulder, Colo.