Based on their placement as one of the top 48 accepted athletes in the region, a total of eight men and three women will compete in five running events, two jumping events and two throwing events at E.B. Cushing Stadium on the Texas A&M campus.
The men qualified multiple athletes in two events, including the 1500-meter run (sophomore Sam Gilman, freshman Cole Lindhorst) and pole vault* (junior Ethan Gardner, junior Ryan Brown). Air Force will be represented in both of the 3000-meter steeplechase events, as sophomore Aidan Boyle and senior Mahala Norris qualified in the men’s and women’s races, respectively. (Norris also posted West qualifying times in the 1500-meter and 5000-meter events, but will focus on the steeplechase at the national meet).
Senior Maria Mettler (10,000-meter run), junior Michelle Roca (400-meter hurdles), junior Jake Hall (high jump), sophomore Hayden Bullock (discus throw) and junior Nick Oesterling (javelin throw) round out the list of Air Force qualifiers to the opening round of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, with Roca becoming just the second member of the women’s team to qualify to the regional (2003-2009) or preliminary (2010-present) level in a sprint/hurdle event.
Norris is Air Force’s highest ranked qualifier, holding a No. 4 time in the steeplechase.
The four-day West Preliminary will run simultaneously with the East meet in Jacksonville, Florida. The top 12 athletes in each event from both sites will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held at the newly-renovated Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., on June 9-12.
* Seniors Mitch Lipe and Greg Skage also posted qualifying marks in the pole vault, but will forgo the competition as it takes place the same time as graduation at the Academy.