Track & Field Team Shakes Off Some Rust, Gets Wins at Air Force All-Comers Meet

By Shannon Payne published January 16, 2009

US AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - There's nothing like a few winning performances to ring in the new year, and the start of the indoor track season. At Friday's Air Force All-Comers meet, the Mountain Lions opened up their season with a bang en route to some personal-best marks and a few victories.

While the team only competed with the field event athletes, sprinters, and a handful of middle-distance runners, the meet was intended to act as a sort of shake-out to get the athletes' heads back into competition after a lengthy span of training.

"This meet will give us a step-up on most other teams." Said sprints coach David Harmer. "When you've just been training for a while, you almost have to re-learn how to race and even if your performance isn't the best, you can still learn a lot and carry it into the next event."

To start things off right, Steve Gomez had an outstanding go in the men's high jump. Gomez, a freshman formerly of Regis High School, cleared 2.00 meters even to claim his personal best as well as a first place finish in a 13-man field composed primarily of division I competitors. In addition to being his best jump, Gomez only narrowly missed the NCAA provisional qualifying height of 2.05 meters. Freshman Brian Hopkins also had a solid day as he took fourth with 1.90 meters. Gomez and Hopkins paired up with Rick Rimbert and Carl Lum in the long jump with Rimbert, Hopkins, and Gomez taking 12th through 14th respectively, while Lum placed 20. Rimbert and Hopkins then took ninth and 10th in the triple jump.

Elsewhere in the field, Jennifer Callan placed 12th in the weight throw with her toss of 13.37 meters, and went on to take 27th in the shot put. Lum placed 26th in the men's section of the shot-put. In the men's weight throw, Preston Williams placed 30th.

Out on the track, Hopkins and Lum finished off a long evening with the 60-meter hurdles, where the two took 10th and 20th.

In the 200 meters, freshman David Mueller gave as good as he got in one of his first collegiate competitions as he held his own to take a very solid sixth place in 22.48. Teammate and team captain Jason Shaver placed 16th and was followed by Rimbert in 29th and Vy Nguyen in 32nd. Jenny Hunt proved her tenacity on the women's side of the 200 as she finished well, despite a lingering cold, in 18th place in a time of 27.12. Off her pace was Joni Raile in 22nd. Hunt then went on to take 19th in the 60 meters. In the men's 60 meters, Mueller took 11th as Lum took 35th.

Dawn Eckert, having recently returned from low-elevation Arizona, was yet another one of the team's freshmen who left a mark upon the field as she raced to a 13th-place finish in the 400 meters in 61.52, no small task considering Air Force's track sits at around 7,000 feet of altitude. Tracey Falsetto placed 19th in 63.15.

The middle-distance duo of Melissa McKinnley and Kelsey Barry had a fantastic one-two punch in the 800 meters as both women ran extremely intelligent and tactical races to come from the back of the pack to claim first and second places respectively in their heat, and second and third overall in 2:23.08 and 2:23.40. Freshman Kylie Honigford took a similar approach in her heat of the race, coming from the back to win in 2:31.84 to take eighth overall.

"I sat them down before the race and reminded them that this is the first race of the year for most people," said Harmer of the team's strategy. "Everyone's excited so don't panic if the race goes out really fast, just stay up near the front and they're going to come back to you."

Alex Vazquez and Chris Reynolds also ran a similarly tactically-sound, 800-meter races to move up gradually through the pack to come through side by side in 1:59.21 and 1:59.60""good for fifth and sixth.

The men's 4x400 squad certainly did its part to wrap up the night with a bit of suspenseful action. While the squad was initially to be composed of Mueller, Vazquez, Shaver, and Reynolds, things did not quite go according to plan. Mueller found himself sidelined just minutes before the race due to a foot injury that made it nearly impossible to negotiate the track's tight turns, thus leaving the team with no anchor runner. While Harmer had nearly elected to scrap the idea of having the men actually compete and rather have them simply run three men as a type of effort trial that would not count toward the finishing places, distance runner Alex Tiernan had other ideas. Stepping straight off the bleachers as the gun went off and snatching a pair of spikes too large for him as well as a borrowed uniform, with no time to warm-up or stretch, Tiernan ran in place of Mueller, helping the men to a sixth-place finish.

"These are the kinds of things that don't show up in the results, but are worth more than any time, place or record," said coach Mark Misch of Tiernan's effort, "and hopefully these are the kinds of attitudes that are passed on down the line to next generation of team members."

The women's 4x400 team of Barry, Eckert, McKinnley, and Falsetto also had a seventh-place showing, besting two of their three RMAC competitors in the race.

"The meet definitely served its purpose tonight," said Harmer. "We can take a lot of confidence from this."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Carl LumCarl LumSprints/Multi's
Carl LumCarl LumSprints/Multi's
Carl LumCarl LumSprints/Multi's
Carl LumCarl LumSprints/Multi's
Alex VazquezAlex VazquezMid-Distance
Alex VazquezAlex VazquezMid-Distance
Alex VazquezAlex VazquezMid-Distance
Alex VazquezAlex VazquezMid-Distance
Alex VazquezAlex VazquezMid-Distance
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher ReynoldsMid-Distance
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher ReynoldsMid-Distance
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher ReynoldsMid-Distance
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher ReynoldsMid-Distance
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher Reynolds
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher Reynolds
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher Reynolds
Christopher ReynoldsChristopher Reynolds
Kylie HonigfordKylie Honigford
Kylie HonigfordKylie Honigford
Kylie HonigfordKylie Honigford
Joni RaileJoni RaileSprints
Brien HopkinsBrien HopkinsJumps/Multi'sFr
Brien HopkinsBrien HopkinsJumps/Multi'sSo
Brien HopkinsBrien HopkinsJumps/Multi'sSr
Brien HopkinsBrien HopkinsJumps/Multi'sJr
Steven GomezSteven GomezJumps
Steven GomezSteven GomezJumps
Jason ShaverJason ShaverSprints
Jason ShaverJason ShaverSprints
Jason ShaverJason ShaverSprints
Jason ShaverJason ShaverSprints
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