Highlighted by two national qualifiers, the Air Force track and field team wrapped up its best day ever at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Norman, Okla., on Friday, May 29. Junior Sara Neubauer (discus throw) and senior Sean Houseworth (5000-meter run) claimed a spot on the NCAA Championship roster behind top-five finishes in their respective events.
In addition to claiming two national qualifiers, Air Force advanced all four runners to tomorrow’s finals and recorded three personal-best marks.
Neubauer advanced to her first appearance in the national meet with a discus throw mark of 173’8” – a distance just one inch shy of her personal best. Neubauer, who also competed in the hammer throw earlier in the day, opened the discus with a 134’11”. After fouling off her second attempt, the junior sent the discus to the 173’8” mark. Neubauer fouled the final two attempts, but had already earned a spot at the national meet, placing third in the field of 27.
Houseworth punched another ticket to the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish in the 5000-meter run. Clocking a career-best time of 14:05.37, the senior moved into fourth on the Academy’s all-time list. The 5000-meter race is one of two events that Houseworth will compete in at the national championships, as he had already secured a spot in the 10,000-meter run with an Academy record-setting performance in late March.
In addition to the final of the 5000-meter run, several preliminary heats were held today and Air Force advanced all four of its runners to the final round tomorrow.
Seniors Daniel Castle and Sebastian Ortiz qualified to the finals of the 1500-meter run. As one of the top four finishers in the first heat (3:51.97), Castle automatically advanced to the finals. Ortiz, who placed seventh in the second heat, earned advanced to the finals based on his time of 3:51.12.
Fellow senior Kellen Curry clocked a wind-aided time of 13.93 to place seventh in the 110-meter hurdles and move on to tomorrow’s finals. Curry also competed in the preliminary heat of the 200-meter dash, clocking a career-best time of 21.04 to finish 16th. His time in the 200 is the third-fastest speed in Academy history.
The Falcons also advanced their lone track representative from the women’s team. Junior Ally Romanko placed eighth in the preliminary heat of the 800-meter run with a time of 2:08.66 – a mark less than one second shy of her personal-best time.
Air Force was also represented in the finals of the men’s javelin throw and women’s pole vault.
Senior Harmon Gage threw a career-best 205’5” to place 10th in the javelin throw, while sophomore Conner Van Fossen placed 13th with a distance of 201’1”. Gage, one of six newly appointed second lieutenants competing for the Falcons this weekend, posted the eighth-best distance in program history with his final throw.
Freshman Kimber Shealy wrapped up an impressive debut season, as she placed 13th in the pole vault behind a clearance of 12’6”.
Action at the regional championships concludes tomorrow (May 30). In addition to the finals of today’s preliminary heats, Air Force will also compete in the men’s hammer throw, women’s shot put, men’s pole vault, women’s javelin throw and men’s 3000-meter steeplechase
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