LINCOLN, Neb. – Highlighted by an Academy-record performance from senior Annette Eichenberger, the Air Force track and field team opened competition at the Holiday Inn Invitational on Friday, Jan. 17, in Lincoln, Neb. Eichenberger, one of four distance runners to collect first-place finishes at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, shattered the program standard in the 1000-meter run.
Clocking a career-best time of 2:51.19, Eichenberger crossed the finish line over five seconds ahead of the rest of the 16-member field. Her time, a personal improvement of seven seconds, shattered the previous Academy time of 2:54.62 that had stood since the Falcons’ 2011 trip to Nebraska.
Eichenberger was one of two Falcons to score in that event, as junior Taylor Drolshagen finished sixth in a career-best time of 3:04.36. Air Force’s women also earned scoring finishes from junior Rebecca Esselstein (800-meter run, seventh, 2:17.48), junior Heather Connick (mile run, eighth, career-best 5:17.06) and sophomore Hannah Everson (3000-meter run, eighth, 10:25.85).
The men collected three first-place finishes, winning three of the five finals that were contested on the track tonight. Junior Zach Perkins won the mile, while sophomore Patrick Corona and senior Isaiah Bragg claimed first-place finishes in the 3000- and 5000-meter events, respectively.
With a debut time of 2:27.33, Perkins paced the Falcons to a one-two finish in the 1000-meter run, as freshman Matt Dorsey clocked a time of 2:27.83 to place second. Corona won his debut in the 3000-meter run behind a time of 8:18.91, while junior Elliot Myers finished fourth with a career-best time of 8:27.29. Bragg rounded out the trio of event winners for the men by clocking a 5000-meter time of 14:36.25 in the final race of the night.
The men earned multiple scoring finishes in both the mile and weight throw. Senior Charlie Perkins was the runner-up in the mile with a time of 4:16.90, while sophomore Sean Bapty recorded a time of 4:22.08 to finish sixth. From the field, seniors Jalen Fooster and William Kent placed third (57’2”) and fourth (56’5¼”), respectively, in the weight throw.
Junior Gartrell, who won the unseeded long jump with a mark of 22’3½”, also competed in the seeded section, finishing seventh with a distance of 22’4¼”. Classmate Evan McDowell tied for sixth in the unseeded section of the long jump with a season-best mark of 21’5¼”, while the freshmen pair of Emily Richard and Taelor Eyre tied for fourth in the unseeded high jump behind matching marks of 5’1”.
Qualifying rounds for the 60-meter dash and hurdles also took place this evening, with Air Force advancing a pair into the finals. Sophomore Gavin McHenry matched his season-best time of 6.91 to finish sixth in the preliminary round of the 60-meter dash, while classmate Joey Wilkin advanced to the finals of the 60-meter hurdles after clocking an eighth-place time of 8.55.
The Falcons return to action tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 18) for the final day of competition at the Holiday Inn Invitational. Action is slated to begin at noon with the women’s shot put, men’s triple jump, men’s pole vault and the first of 14 running events.
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