Coach Cole Interview
The championship season begins for the Air Force cross country team this week, as the team travels to Albuquerque, N.M., for the 2017 Mountain West Cross Country Championships. The Falcons’ lineup, which includes the 17th-ranked men’s team and a women’s squad that is receiving votes in the most recent national standings, will face their conference counterparts at the UNM North Golf Course on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Mountain West Cross Country Championships will take place on Friday, Oct. 27, at the UNM North Golf Course (2201 Tucker Ave NE). The men will kick off the championship meet with an 8K race at 10:00 a.m. (MT), while the women will follow with a 6K race at 10:45 a.m.
THE STARTING LINE
Air Force will send 18 runners to the Mountain West Championships. Jacob Bilvado, Mickey Davey, Andrew Johnston, Andrew Milliron, Noah Riley, Jimmy Shipley, Patrick Sullivan, Andrew Tankersley and Marshall Wheeler will represent the men’s team, while Lindsey Blanks, Teri Brady, Katie Burnham, Shanna Burns, Carina Gillespie, Maria Mettler, Mahala Norris, Jaci Smith and Giulianna Vessa will represent Air Force’s women.
Albuquerque is forecasted to be sunny, with a high of 55 degrees, on Friday.
A LOOK AT THE LEAGUE
The Mountain West Championships will feature eight men’s teams and 11 women’s programs. The men’s field includes three nationally-ranked teams (No. 9 Colorado State, No. 17 Air Force, No. 19 Utah State), one that is receiving votes (Boise State) and squads from Fresno State, New Mexico, San Jose State and Wyoming. The women’s field also features three ranked squads (No. 2 New Mexico, No. 8 Boise State, No. 12 Utah State) and one that is receiving votes (Air Force), while Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV and Wyoming round out the overall lineup.
FALCONS SET TO HOST #AFXC SOCIAL
Air Force will host a gathering for family, friends and alumni in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Oct. 26 – the night before the conference championships. The event will take place from 8:00-9:00 p.m., at the Staybridge Suites, ABQ Airport (1350 Sunport Blvd).
Four schools have captured men’s team titles at the Mountain West Championships, with former conference opponent BYU leading the way with nine (99-00-01-02-04-05-06-07-08). New Mexico (09-10-11-12-13-14), Air Force (03-15) and Boise State (16) have also collected MW titles. On the women’s side, New Mexico (nine, 08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16) and BYU (eight, 99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06) have combined for 17 of the last 18 team titles, with Colorado State claiming the remaining title in 2007.
AIR FORCE HISTORY, PART I
Highlighted by two team titles and eight runner-up finishes, the men have placed within the top three of the Mountain West Championships 17 times in the last 18 years. The women, who captured runner-up honors for the first time in program history at last season’s meet, have finished third six times and placed within the top half of the field 13 times in 18 years.
AIR FORCE HISTORY, PART II
Since the Mountain West was formed in 1999, Air Force has seen 34 men combine for 57 all-conference awards, including one individual champion and 24 first-team selections. Isaiah Bragg (Class of 2014) became the program’s first MW champion in 2013, while Ben Payne (Class of 2004) is the program’s only four-time all-MW honoree. On the women’s side, 11 Falcons have combined for 14 all-conference awards, with Hannah Everson (Class of 2016) and Melissa Fuerst (Class of 2013) earning all-MW distinction multiple times. With third-place finishes during the last two conference meets, Everson and Carina Gillespie have accounted for the Falcons’ best individual finishes.
AIR FORCE HISTORY, PART III
In addition to their success in the Mountain West, the men also captured three team titles and two individual championships as members of the Western Athletic Conference. The Falcons won WAC titles in 1991, 1994 and 1996, while Chris Nelson (Class of 1992) finished first at the 1990 and 1991 championships, and Eric Mack (Class of 1996) won the conference title in 1995.
LAST YEAR AT THE MW CHAMPIONSHIPS
Backed by top-six finishes from Carina Gillespie (third), Lindy Long (Class of 2017, fifth) and Jaci Smith (sixth), the women earned a program-best second-place finish at the 2016 MW Championships. On the men’s side, Jacob Bilvado (fifth), Andrew Johnston (sixth), Matt Dorsey (Class of 2017, seventh) paced Air Force to a third-place finish in the team standings.
MEN CLIMB TO NO. 17 IN USTFCCCA RANKINGS
After their strong finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, the men climbed up six spots to No. 17 in the USTFCCCA National Rankings on Oct. 17. That placement is Air Force’s highest since it received a No. 14 spot in the preseason poll of the 2005 season. The ranking is also the men’s first Top-20 appearance since that week’s poll.
WOMEN CONTINUE TO RECEIVE MENTION IN WEEKLY POLL
For the fifth time in as many weeks this season, the women received votes in the USTFCCCA poll. Following the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, the women collected five points and stand at No. 37 in the overall listing.
THE NEXT COURSE
Air Force returns to action on Friday, Nov. 10, when it travels to Logan, Utah, for the 2017 NCAA Mountain Regional.