With one Academy record and four national qualifiers, the Air Force track and field team concluded its best weekend ever at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships today (May 30) in Norman, Okla. Junior Sara Neubauer blasted her own Academy record in the shot put en route to a national berth, while three others also earned national qualifying finishes.
Neubauer tossed an Academy record-setting throw of 54’0” on her final ‘fair’ attempt to finish second in the shot put field of 31. The mark is a personal-best by nearly four feet, breaking the program standard that she set one throw earlier at 53’2¾”. Dating back to the conference championships, Neubauer has increased her Academy record during three of her last four ‘fair’ throws.
With today’s runner-up placement in the shot put and yesterday’s third-place finish in the discus throw, Neubauer becomes the second member of the Falcons’ squad to earn multiple spots on this year’s national roster. She joins senior Sean Houseworth, who will compete in the 5000- and 10,000-meter races at next month’s national meet.
The pair will be joined by junior Nick Frawley (pole vault), senior Kellen Curry (110-meter hurdles) and senior Daniel Castle (1500-meter run), who also earned a spot at the NCAA Championships, based on top-five finishes in their respective events.
Frawley finished third in the 26-member pole vault field with a clearance of 17’3” – a mark just shy of his season-best mark. Curry used a wind-aided time of 13.88 in the 110-meter hurdles to finish fourth and qualify for his first national meet. Castle also earned a spot in his first national meet, after placing fifth in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:47.26.
In addition, four other members of the Falcons’ team earned the chance for an at-large selection to the national championships, as eighth-place finishers (while the top five finishers automatically advance, those placing sixth, seventh or eighth have an opportunity for an at-large berth based on the national descending order list).
Air Force claimed two possible at-large finishers in the 3000-meter steeplechase, as senior Matt Williams and sophomore Justin Tyner finished sixth and eighth, respectively. Williams clocked a career-best time of 8:54.36 to improve his third-place standing on the Academy’s all-time list, while Tyner recorded a time of 9:05.06. Senior Sebastian Ortiz placed eighth in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:51.22, while junior Ally Romanko finished eighth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:12.36.
Junior Zach Nordahl also competed in the 3000-meter steeplechase, placing 10th with a time of 9:08.05.
From the field, freshman Robert Drye placed 16th in the hammer throw, recording a distance of 177’9”, while junior Dan Paladino finished 22nd with a throw of 170’1”. Junior Katie Weber placed 10th in the javelin throw with a toss of 147’0”, while freshman Paige Blackburn finished 16th with a toss of 132’3”.
In all, the Falcons accounted for national bids from four men (in five events) and one woman (in two events) for its best representation ever at a national meet.