WACO, Texas – The Air Force track and field team made four improvements to the Academy Record Book, set one Facility Record and accounted for 21 top-five finishes this afternoon (April 3) during an impressive day of action at the Baylor Invitational in Waco.
Junior Michelle Roca highlighted the Falcons’ day on the track, as she recorded the second-fastest 400-meter hurdles time in Academy history and broke the program’s 10-year-old Junior Class Record. Dropping more than a half second from the time she set last week to debut in the top 10, Roca crossed the finish line in 61.23 to pick up a third-place finish and vault from sixth to second in the Academy history books.
Freshman Katie Thompson continued to rewrite the Academy’s all-time standings on Saturday, as she improved a pair of top-10 lists within a four-hour span. After recording a long jump distance of 18’8½” to finish fifth in the meet and improve her own No. 3 placement in the Academy Record Book, Thompson clocked a 100-meter hurdles time of 14.59 to place within the top half of the field (10th) and debut in seventh on the program’s all-time standings.
Senior Luke Zuluaga, junior Sean Geither, senior Zachary Dicken and junior Wyatt Murphy capped the rewrite of the record book with the fourth-fastest 4×400-meter relay in Academy history. Combining to cross the finish line in 3:09.66, the quartet became the first relay since 2018 to impact that top-10 list.
Senior Konrad Steck easily broke the Clyde Hart Stadium Record in the 5000-meter run this afternoon, as he posted a time of 14:18.59 to earn first-place honors and lead Air Force to a sweep of the top-four finishes in that 14-runner event. Steck was one of three Falcons to better the previous facility record of 14:29.76 that had stood since 2015. Freshman Ryan Child posted a time of 14:22.14 in his debut in the outdoor 5000-meter run to finish second, while sophomore Joseph Wittig took nearly a minute off his previous time to finish third (14:24.93). Senior Drew Lester completed the Air Force sweep, as he clocked a career-best time of 14:40.52 to finish fourth.
Child was one of five Falcons to claim runner-up honors on Saturday. Junior Jake Hall cleared 6’8¼” to finish second in the high jump and lead Air Force to two of the top-three clearances – and four of the top-six finishes. Murphy and freshman Philip Hundl tied for fourth with matching marks of 6’4¼” (career-best for Murphy), while junior Addison Brown cleared that same bar to finish sixth based on attempts. Junior La’akea Aiu earned runner-up honors in the 400-meter hurdles (52.92) after taking nearly a second off his previous best time, while classmate Nick Oesterling and sophomore Jaret Prete earned that same placement in two of the throwing events. Oesterling unleashed the first 200-foot javelin of his career (201’2″) to finish second in that event, while Prete added a runner-up distance of 182’1″ in the hammer.
Freshman John Colizzi recorded a career-best distance of 22’7¼” to finish third in the long jump, while the men’s 4×100-meter relay earned the same placement after clocking a time of 41.46. Junior Ethan Gardner added a top-five finish in the pole vault, as he cleared 16’8¾” to finish fourth in the 14-vaulter event.
Senior Addyson Smith earned a pair of top-five marks for the women, as she finished fourth in the shot put (42’2″) and fifth in the discus throw (145’1″) this afternoon. Junior Brid O’Connell clocked a career-best time of 2:13.43 to finish third in her first outdoor 800-meter race of the season, while classmates Ari Martinez and Kristin Kerrigan collected top-five finishes in the high jump (fourth, 5’5¼”) and javelin throw (fifth, 117’11”), respectively.
Air Force returns to action with a pair of meets next weekend. The multi-event athletes travel to Tucson, Ariz., for the annual Jim Click Decathlon on April 8-9, while the rest of the team travels to Boulder for the Colorado Invitational on April 9-10.