Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

New Mexico sweeps Mountain West track and field; host Air Force men third

by JUSTIN SHAW sports@gazette.com - Published: March 1, 2014 0

The Mountain West Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships may have been held at Air Force Academy, but the Falcons and nine other schools were seeing red Saturday - New Mexico red.

The Lobos swept the men's and women's team titles in impressive fashion. The Air Force men - who won the event in 2012 and finished second last season - took third, while the women's team finished ninth.

Ralph Lindeman has been the coach at Air Force for 25 years and wasn't necessarily pleased with the outcomes.

"I'm happy with their efforts, but I'm not satisfied with the way they performed as a team," Lindeman said of his men. "Being third (stinks); we've tasted better and we should've had a home-track advantage today, but we didn't have the enthusiasm that New Mexico or Colorado State had."

New Mexico ran away with the men's title for the second straight year, totaling 166.5 points. Colorado State was second with 133, and Air Force was third at 128.

There were several bright spots for Air Force's men, including taking six of the top eight spots in pole vault. Joey Uhle and Dylan Bell tied for the title after each topped 17 feet, 7 inches.

"We feed off each other, and being at home we wanted to own this event," said Uhle, who won the title in 2013. "It's great to share this with a teammate."

Bell, a sophomore, was pleased with his performance, and says being on the same level as Uhle was a big step.

"He's in better shape than I am, so the fact that I could stay with him really boosts my confidence," Bell said with a smile. "We take pride in pole vaulting, and it's nice to know we have an event where we can score so many points."

Air Force also got a big win from junior Zach Perkins in the 800-meter run.

Perkins closed the gap during the final lap and fought off Wyoming's Harry Fisher by .05 seconds in 1:51.7 in what was the closest race of the day.

"I saw him coming out of the corner of my eye, but I was determined not to lose this race," Perkins said. "I never have a strategy coming into a race; when it comes to championship racing, it's about pure instincts."

Air Force's Patrick Corona finished second in the mile run, which saw the top five racers separated by less than a second. Wasson High School alum Trevor Brown won his fourth-consecutive title in the 60 hurdles for CSU, breaking his Mountain West record in 7.73.

The bright spot for Air Force's women - who only scored 37.5 points - was senior 800 runner Annette Eichenberger who won in 2:10.68.

"This means so much to me; to have my friends and family cheering for me at the end was amazing," she said. "I run this track all the time, and knowing every step of it helps."

Lindeman was already looking forward to outdoor track season, which begins next week.

"We need to become a better team for outdoors," he said. "This is like halftime, and it's time for us to improve."

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