USAF ACADEMY, Colo. – Air Force junior Rachel Herald set an Academy record in the high jump, as the track and field team opened the season with the AF Holiday Open on Friday, Dec. 13. Breaking a 17-year old record in that event, Herald was one of 10 Falcons to claim first-place finishes during the season-opening meet.
Clearing 5’10½”, Herald broke the previous Academy standard of 5’9¾” that Jennifer Petykowski had held since 1996. The mark, a career-best mark by over three inches, also shattered the Senior Class Record of 5’7” that Kristi Lowenthal had held since1995. Herald was one of three Falcons to place within the top five of the women’s high jump, as freshmen Emily Richard and Taelor Eyre finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with matching marks of 5’3”.
Sophomore Naomi Alston also set an Academy record during the season opener, recording a time of 41.14 in the 300-meter dash. Placing fifth overall in the 22-runner event, Alston cut nearly one second off of the program standard for the event that is in its third year of competition.
Air Force swept the titles in all four of the throwing events, including a pair of victories from Danielle Tabb. The junior used career marks to win both the shot put and weight throw. Tabb recorded the third-best shot put distance in Academy history (48’10”) to win that event by nearly five feet, while tallying the program’s fifth-best weight throw mark (54’7½”) to finish first by over three feet. On the men’s side, sophomore Grant Hamilton recorded a distance of 54’10¼” to win the shot put and debut in 10th on the program’s all-time list, while senior William Kent placed first in the weight throw with a distance of 59’5½”.
In addition to the event titles, Air Force’s throwers accounted for six other top-five finishes in those four events. Hamilton placed second in the weight throw with a distance of 53’8¼”, while freshman Darby Maier accounted for the same placement in the shot put with a debut toss of 53’9½”. Sophomore Spencer Baldwin, in his first meet following a two-year mission trip in Chile, picked up a fourth-place finish in the shot put (45’0¼”) and a fifth-place finish in the weight throw (50’8¾”). Tabb paced the women to the top-two finishes in the weight throw, as senior Becca Bauman finished second with a mark of 51’6¼”. Freshman Cydnee Reese rounded out the Falcons’ top-five finishers, as she placed fourth in her shot put debut with a toss of 37’9½”.
Air Force also claimed both titles in the 1000-meter run. Junior Rebecca Esselstein won the women’s race in a time of 3:02.13, while freshman Matt Dorsey placed first in the men’s event with a time of 2:34.26. Junior Taylor Drolshagen and freshman Kirsten Linnartz finished third (3:12.09) and fifth (3:17.98), respectively, in the women’s race, while sophomore Grant Caswell (fourth, 2:36.45) and senior Matthieu Caldwell (fifth, 2:39.48) clocked top-five times in the men’s meet.
Junior Joey Uhle paced the men’s pole vault team to three of the top-five places in that event, as he opened the season with a clearance of 17’9¼” – a mark just a half-inch shy of his personal-best. Sophomore Dylan Bell finished second with a mark of 17’5” (also just a half-inch off of his PR), while senior Cort Rogers placed fifth with a mark of 16’0¾”.
Air Force also claimed a first-place finish from junior Blue Kearney, who won the long jump with a career-best distance of 23’8¾”, and the women’s mile relay of Alston, senior Heather Shepard, freshman Sydney Rohlwing and classmate Alexa Chacon, who combined for a winning time of 4:02.15.
Junior Kyle Gartrell picked up a pair of runner-up finishes, as he placed second in both the long jump (22’5”) and triple jump (46’8¼”). Chacon, who ran the anchor of the winning mile relay, had a strong meet, earning second-place finishes in the long jump (17’3¼”) and 60-meter hurdles (9.02). Her time in the hurdles is ranked seventh on the program’s all-time list.
The women claimed two of the top-three finishes in the mile, as freshmen Morgan Fagnant and Taylor Schwenke finished second (5:48.49) and third (6:04.00), respectively, while the men picked up the same placements in the high jump behind junior Kobi Rex and freshman Taylor Smith’s matching clearances of 6’8¾”.
Sophomore Sean Bapty placed second in the mile with a time of 4:31.31, while classmate Angelea Ross earned a runner-up finish in the triple jump with a distance of 37’11¼”. Fellow sophomore Kegan Garnett, who returned to the team at the beginning of the year following a two-year mission to Indonesia, finished fourth in the triple jump (44’3¼”), while classmate Joey Wilkin picked up the same placement in the 60-meter hurdles (8.38). The men’s mile relay of freshman Kyle Jameson, sophomore Jordan McCool, junior Jake Spuller and freshman Drew Wyllie finished fourth with a time of 3:22.48, while freshman Chandler Myers rounded out the Falcons’ top-five Holiday Open performances with a fifth-place finish in the 60-meter dash (7.00).
The Falcons, who will take time off from competition for finals and the holidays, return to action on Saturday, Jan. 11, when they host the annual Air Force All-Comers Meet at the Cadet Field House.