USTIN, Texas – Three members of the Air Force track and field team qualified to the national meet today (May 25), during the final round of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (West Preliminary) in Austin, Texas. Sophomore Joey Uhle and senior Cale Simmons qualified in the pole vault, while sophomore Zach Perkins advanced in the 1500-meter run.
Backed by a clearance of 17’8½”, Uhle shared the West Preliminary title in the pole vault, while Simmons finished seventh with a matching height (11 of the 12 qualifiers advanced with a 17’8½” clearance).
After passing on the opening height, Uhle was perfect through the next five bars, clearing each height on his first attempt. He was the only vaulter to post a five-for-five record on successful first attempts, as his co-champion passed on the first two heights before going four-for-four. Simmons, nursing a sore foot, skipped the first five heights and did not enter the competition until the bar had been raised to 17’8½” and the majority of the field had already qualified. Without any warm-ups, Simmons cleared the bar on his second attempt to advance to his fourth consecutive NCAA Championship meet (indoor/outdoor).
Sophomore Zach Perkins earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Outdoor Championships, after placing third in his heat of the 1500-meter quarterfinals. Crossing the finish line in a time of 3:45.05, Perkins had the third-fastest time in the entire 24-runner field. In fact, his time was better than all five automatic qualifiers from the other heat.
Several other Falcons wrapped up their 2013 seasons today in Austin.
Freshman Garrett Griffin placed 22nd in the national semifinals of the javelin throw, tossing a mark of 210’9”, while junior Tim Urista finished 28th with a distance of 204’1”. Senior Rob Simmons also competed in the national semifinals of the pole vault, placing 34th with a height of 16’6¾” (the fourth-best clearance of the day). Classmate Brian Ford and junior Jalen Fooster placed 34th (185’7”) and 35th (182’9”), respectively, in the hammer throw semifinals.
Senior Matt Bell, who competed in the semifinals of the 10,000-meter run on Thursday, returned to the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium tonight for the quarterfinals of the 5000-meter run. Competing in the faster of the two heats, Bell clocked a time of 14:35.11 to take 15th in his group and 30th overall.
On the women’s side, Kassie Gurnell finished 17th in the triple jump with a season-best distance of 41’5¼”. Her mark, a new Junior Class Record for the Academy, is a three-inch improvement over her previous best mark of the outdoor season.
Senior Morgan Mosby closed out her career with a 19th-place time of 4:30.96 in the quarterfinals of the 1500-meter run, while sophomore Nikki Freeman placed 44th in the semifinals of the javelin throw behind a toss of 131’0”.
Perkins, Simmons and Uhle will return to action in two weeks (June 5-8), when they travel to Eugene, Ore., for the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.