USAF ACADEMY, Colo. – Air Force track and field head coach Ralph Lindeman announced the addition of 34 cadet-athletes to the upcoming season’s roster, as classes began this morning (Aug. 8) at the Academy. The newest class of Air Force track and field athletes features nine high school state champions and three nationally-ranked athletes.
“This may be the very best class of athletes that we’ve ever had,” Lindeman said of the program’s newest cadet-athletes prior to the first day of class. “I am extremely proud of everyone for getting through Basic Cadet Training.”
Four state champions join a men’s program that has accounted for three of last four Mountain West titles (2012 indoor, 2012 outdoor, 2013 outdoor).
Zach Johnson (Farmington, N.M. | Piedra Vista HS) was the New Mexico AAAA champion in both the 100- and 200-meter sprints as , while setting a State Meet Record of 21.53 in the 200-meter dash. Ranked 11th among high school seniors in the 800-meter run (1:52.74), Matt Dorsey won that event at the Indiana High School State Championships and again at the Midwest Meet of Championships. He also ranked 28th nationally in the 1600-meter run (4:08.92), while finishing second at the state meet. Tyler Ginger (Stanford, Ill. | Olympia HS) and Eric Hoff (Brentwood, Tenn. | Brentwood HS) both accounted for state titles in the pole vault. Ginger captured the Illinois state title as a senior, while earning runner-up finishes during each of the previous two years, while Hoff, who finished fourth in the pentathlon at the New Balance Indoor Nationals, claimed the Tennessee Division I-AAA state title as a junior.
In addition, Kyle Pater (San Diego, Calif. | Mount Carmel HS) was ranked 10th among U.S. high school seniors in the pole vault with a season-best clearance of 16’6”, but injury forced him from competing at the California state championship meet.
Air Force also added a pair of Montana natives that excelled in multiple sports as prep athletes to its roster. Darby Maier (Missoula, Mont. | Big Sky HS), the second-place finisher in the shot put (58’4”) at the Montana AA state championships, was also a three-time runner-up at the state wrestling championships, while Taylor Hulslander (Kalispell, Mont. | Glacier HS), an all-state honorable mention football player, finished second in the javelin throw at the same AA state meet with a toss of 193’2”.
Daniel Lara (Loveland, Colo. | Thompson Valley HS) was the runner-up in the 800-meter run at the Colorado 4A state championships (1:54.75), while Taylor Smith (Clovis, Calif. | Buchanan HS), the younger brother of Air Force all-conference high jumper Travis Smith (USAFA, Class of 2013), finished third in the high jump at the CIF California state meet. Kyle Eller (Lowell, Ind. | Lowell Senior HS) finished fifth at the Indiana State Cross Country Championships and Jason Engel (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. | Santa Margarita Catholic HS) finished sixth in the 1600-meter run at the Orange County Champinships.
The women added five cadet-athletes that accounted for 13 state titles during their prep careers.
Colorado Springs native Alexa Chacon (The Classical Academy) accounted for five state 3A titles in the hurdles, while setting the State Meet Records in both events (14.23-100-meter hurdles; 42.75-300-meter hurdles). Chacon was a three-time champion in the 300-meter hurdles (2011-12-13), while earning a pair of titles in the 100-meter hurdles (2012-13). Addy Neibauer (Greeley, Colo. | Greeley Central HS) and Cyndee Reese (St. Louis, Mo. | Archbishop O’Hara HS) each accounted for three titles, as Neibauer won three 4A titles in the pole vault (career-best 12’7”) and Reese claimed three titles in the discus throw (career-best 153’5”).
Lindy Long (Fairburn, Ga. | Landmark Christian School), the runner-up at the Georgia Class A State Cross Country Championships, won the Georgia 1A-Private state title in the 3200-meter run with a time of 10:50.34, while Mikayla Robertson (Menomonee Falls, Wis. | Menomonee Falls HS) set a Wisconsin DI State Meet Record of 40’3” to claim the triple jump title and rank 13th among U.S. high school seniors.
Kathryn New (Mosca, Colo. | Sangre de Christo HS) claimed four top-five finishes at the Colorado 2A state meet, placing second in the 400-meter dash (56.94), third in the 100-meter dash (12.68), third in the 200-meter dash (25.87) and fifth in the high jump (5’1”). In addition to New, Air Force added a pair of high jumpers in Emily Richard (Katy, Texas | Cinco Ranch HS) and Taelor Eyre (Ontario, Calif. | Colony HS)/ Holding a season-best mark of 5’8”, Richard qualified to the Texas state meet in the high jump after finishing third at the Texas Region III-5A, while Eyre cleared 5’6” to win the Inland Empire County Championships and finish seventh at the CIF South Section Finals.
In addition, Kyle Cotton (Ridgeway, Colo. | Ouray HS), Grant Garst (Inman, Kan. | Inman HS), Ryan Graf (Shenandoah Junction, W.V. | Jefferson HS), Dee Grimes (Wolforth, Texas | Frenship HS), Keegan Jones (Fort Dodge, Iowa | Fort Dodge Senior HS) and Andrew Steinemann (Belleview, Fla. | Belleview HS | USAFA Prep School) will join the men’s team, while Zoe Casteel (Orange, Texas | Little Cypress-Mauriceville HS), Kirsten Linnartz (Phoenix, Ariz. | Sunnyslope HS), Montana Pellegrini (Kent, Wash. | Thomas Jefferson HS), Stephanie Robb (Salmon, Idaho | Salmon HS), Sydney Rohlwing (Denver, Colo. | Regis Jesuit HS), Stephanie Skold (Evergreen, Colo. | Evergreen HS), Emily Smithwick (Jacksonville, Fla. | Episcopal HS | Tufts University), Emily Taylor (Ontario, Calif. | Colony HS), and Jaydon Wilkerson (Emmett, Idaho | Emmett HS) will join the women’s program.
The Class of 2017 arrived at the Academy on Thursday, June 27, for six weeks of Basic Cadet Training. The freshmen spent the first three weeks of BCT in the Cadet Area, focusing on military orientation, physical conditioning and teamwork, before marching out to Jack’s Valley for two weeks of field training activities that develop mental and physical confidence. Upon returning from Jack’s Valley, the basics were accepted into the Cadet Wing on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and began classes this morning.