A Look Back on the 1999-2000 AFA Athletic Season
This is a three-part series, a look back on the accomplishments of the Academy's 27-intercollegiate sports. The series begins with the Academy's teams entering the 1999 fall season. Quick facts such as records, conference, academic and Academy awards are listed at the end of each write-up.
In the fall of 1999, the Air Force Academy's athletic teams began competition in the Mountain West Conference. On July 1, 1999, the MWC began its official operations with a membership composed of eight Division 1-A institutions. The conference features the Academy, Brigham Young, Colorado State University, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, UNLV, University of Utah and University of Wyoming. Eight members of the Western Athletic Conference collectively decided to form a smaller conference and foster the traditional rivalries that were born in the 70s and 80s.
Cross Country: In October, the Falcons concluded the season at the MWC Cross Country Championships in Provo, Utah. Anticipating a top three finish, the Falcon men's team placed second, finishing ahead of No. 15-ranked Utah; Colorado State followed in third place. Wyoming and New Mexico finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Not surprisingly, Brigham Young's men's team finished in first place. Surprisingly, the Air Force women's team finished third in the 5K race. Their finish was the highest team finish for the Air Force women. The Cougar and Colorado State women's teams finished first and second, respectively. The Falcons beat UNLV, San Diego State, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico.
When the dust settled, four Falcons had earned all-MWC honors and Head Coach Mark Stanforth was named MWC coach of the year. Jim Nelson, from Napa, Calif., earned first-team honors after finishing seventh (25:38). It was Nelson's second all-conference honor in cross country; his first came in 1998 when he earned all-Western Athletic Conference. Teammates Joe Monaco (eight), Ryan O'Hara (11th) and Rachel Smith (11th) also earned all-conference honors (second-team). For the women's team, Smith is the first-ever cross country runner to all-conference honors.
This decade, the men's teams have always finished in the top three in the conference (WAC). It was the men's first top-three showing in the MWC going into the millennium. It is the highest team finish for the women's team, which has never placed higher than fourth in conference history. The women's team finished fourth in 1998 in the WAC.
Cross Country Quick Facts:
Football: The team ended the season with a 6-5 overall mark following a 33-28 loss to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The last time the Falcons ended the season at 6-5 was in 1996. It marked the sixth consecutive season the Falcons finished the year with a winning record. Even so, it fell far short of the team's goals for '99. In fact, the Falcons won only one of their three-preseason goals. Capturing their 13th Commander in Chief's Trophy, winning the MWC title and going to a bowl game were dashed by finishing with a 2-5-league record and losing their last two regular season conference games. Season Highlights included No. 13 CIC Trophy win, defeating Navy, 19-14, and Army, 28-0. The team's firstclassemen became the fourth winningest class in Falcon history. The firsties posted a 34-14 record during their careers. The 1985 class is the winningest in history with a 38-12 record. AFA blocked eight kicks this season, including two punts against New Mexico. The Falcons blocked a kick in each of the first two games, and then went without one until blocking two punts against BYU. That marked the 10th consecutive year the team has blocked at least three kicks in a season. Air Force added a blocked field goal and punt against Colorado State. Corey Nelson made both blocks to give him a team-best 3.5 blocks this season. He is the active career leader with 4.5 blocks for his career. His 3.5 blocks this year are the third most in school history and the most since Tim Curry blocked four in '98. AFA has 59 blocks in the 1990s. The Falcons entered the season ranked second nationally to Virginia Tech, who has blocked 64. This season is AFA's 44th season of varsity football. The Falcons have posted a wining record in 27 seasons. Overall the Falcons' record stands at 261-218-13. Kicker Jackson Whiting finished with a perfect season. Whiting hit all 12 field goal attempts and all 26 extra points to tie for the conference lead in both categories. Whiting is the career field goal percentage leader going 19 of 23 for his career, which is a .826 percentage. He is third in career PAT percentage with a .987 mark. AFA captured its 16th conference rushing title finishing the season with a 285.5 per-game rushing average. The Falcons won 15 titles while a member of the Western Athletic Conference, including last season with a 266.8 per-game average. Air Force has posted a 28-10 record over the last three seasons (1997-1999) to lead teams in the Mountain West Conference and rank eighth nationally in wins. The Falcons are 24-11 in their last 34 regular season road games. AFA is 17-8 in their last 25 conference road games and won 12 of its last 17 games on the road dating back to 1997 (3-3 this season). For the record, despite ending the season on a disappointing loss, the Falcons are ready to challenge for the CINC Trophy, a conference title and a bowl appearance in the new millennium.
Football Quick Facts:
Craig Thorstenson, Butkus Award "Watch List"
Scotty McKay, MWC offensive player of the week vs. Utah (Oct. 16)
Most Valuable: Scotty McKay Back Scotty McKay Lineman Shawn Thomas Special Teams Jackson Whiting Junior Varsity Record: 2-4
Men's Soccer: The Air Force men's soccer team battled injuries to finish the 1999 season with a winning record. Led by team most valuable player Richie Cullen, the team finished 9-8-2. They secured a winning season in dramatic fashion, defeating in-state rival Denver University 1-0 in the season finale.
The Falcons opened the season with a victory, defeating Loyola Marymount 1-0 in a tough defensive battle. The Falcons stifling defense held LMU to just two shots both coming in the first half. Wesley Williams scored the games only goal. Following the victory, the Falcons suffered a heart breaking 3-4 loss to San Francisco, when SF's Alexander Akerjordet scored with just over a minute remaining in double overtime. Against Drury, Keith McDaniel scored two goals and Matt Rabe added a third, as the Falcons were victorious, 3-1. Air Force dominated St. Mary's to win the Falcon Invitational Tournament. Trevor Frobose scored four goals, as the Falcons won 6-0 in the tourney's championship game to bring home the trophy. Keith McDaniel was selected as the tournament's offensive MVP and Matt Rabe was the defensive MVP. Ryan Sagastume and Donavon Kneur were voted to the All-Tournament team.
Goalkeeper Richie Cullen was selected by the coaches of the Mountain Division to the all-conference first team of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Cullen, a senior from Spokane, Wash., led Air Force to a winning season in its first year as a member of the MPSF. Cullen had seven shutouts for the Falcons, including a 1-0 victory over in-state rival Denver in the season's final game. He finished the season with 63 saves and goals against average of 1.37. C3C Trevor Frobose was selected to the all-conference second team. Frobose, a sophomore from Lakewood, Colo., led the Falcons with 24 points. He was the team leader in goal (10) and assists (4).
Men's Soccer Quick Facts:
Women's Soccer: Entering the season, head coach Marty Buckley was optimistic as his team entered the inaugural year of the Mountain West Conference. After relying on underclassmen the past two seasons, Buckley had an experienced team that could make a run at a conference championship. Even after the team's 0-4 start, Buckley's optimism did not diminish. Going in to the final weekend of the regular season, the Falcons were in position to win their first conference championship. After all the dust settled, the words best and first became pillars of the team's vocabulary. Air Force finished the season at 11-10 overall and 3-3 four fourth places in the MWC. The 11 wins, .524 winning percentage and three conference victories are all the best since moving to Division I in 1996 and the second-best in the seven-year history of the program.
Three players earned all-conference honors. C4C (Fr.) Kari James was named the MWC Freshman of the Year. James tied for the team lead with five goals and was second with 14 points. She was chosen as the MWC Player of the Week, Oct. 18, when she scored two goals and had one assist in a pair of victories over Wyoming and New Mexico. Schoeck, who earned her third-straight first-team all-conference selection, joined James on the first team. The midfielder led the team in shots and was sixth on the team in scoring. The team's leader on the field is just the second Falcon in school history to earn three straight first-team all-conference selections. Boyer claimed second team all-conference honors. The midfielder from Waukee, Iowa, earned MWC Player of the Week honors, Nov. 1, as he scored three goals in two Falcons' wins over Colorado College and Denver. Boyer led the team with 14 points and tied for the team led with five goals. Schoeck was the most decorated Falcon, earning third-team all-region honors by the National Soccer Coaches Association and Soccer Buzz magazine.
Women's Soccer Quick Facts:
All-conference: C4C Kari James, first-team, Freshman of the Year, Player of the Week (Oct. 18); Jennie Schoeck, first-team; Beth Boyer, second-team, Player of the Week (Nov. 1).
All-Region: Jennie Schoeck, third-team (National Soccer Coaches Association & Soccer Buzz magazine).
Women's Volleyball: Finishing with a 17-12 record, the team tied for fourth in the MWC, 5-9. Predicted to rank last in a preseason coach's poll the Falcons surprised more than a few teams as they made their ascent from last place to fourth. The team improved in nearly every statistical category on a per-game basis from the previous year, including kills, assists, blocks and digs.
The Falcons tied with New Mexico for fourth place in the league standings, but claimed the No. 4 seed in the championship tournament by virtue of the tiebreaker scenario. Air Force and New Mexico split their head-to-head matches, but the Falcons won in a sweep, while it took the Lobos four games to claim their victory. During the MWC Championships No. 5 New Mexico upset fourth-seeded Air Force, 3-2 to advance to the semifinal round of the Mountain West Conference Volleyball Championship. Despite the disappointment of not competing higher in the tournament, the season still had many positive developments. The 17 wins surpassed the wins of the four previous seasons. Several individual and season records were broken and set by the Falcon team. Effland ended her career ninth on the all-time list with 1,092 kills and is only the 10th player in school history, and the first since the program moved to the Division I level in 1996, to reach the prestigious 1,000 milestone. Her 3.71 kill per game average ranked seventh in the conference and stands fifth on the academy's list for season bests. All-conference selection, Summer Koons totaled eight kills and match-high seven blocks in her final outing. Koons finished ninth on the AFA all-time list with 404 total blocks and stands seventh with 282 assisted blocks in her career. The league leader in digs per game with a 3.59 average, Wilkerson collected eight digs and 13 kills in her career finale. In finished the season with a 12.01 assists per game average a mark, which established a new academy season record and ranked fourth in the conference. For her career, In managed the sixth-highest assist total in AFA history with 2,214. In also ranked second in the league with a 0.45 ace per game average. Billings is one of only three MWC players to register a triple-double (15 kills, 12 dig and11 blocks vs. CSU). The leadership of the upperclassmen helped the Falcons reach new goals in 1999. The team went from four wins in their freshman year, to five in 1997 and to nine wins in their junior year 1998.
Volleyball Quick Facts:
Water Polo: The Air Force water polo team enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent history under first-year head coach Jeff Ehrlich. The team recorded a 21-12 record and advanced to the title game of the Western Water Polo Association post-season tournament. The two victories in the tournament clinched the team's first 20-win season since 1995 and the just the fifth in school history.
Air Force's bid for the Western Water Polo Association crown fell just short as the Falcons lost to UC-San Diego, 10-7, in the championship game Sunday in Claremont, Calif. The Falcons, ranked 14th in the nation, opened the tournament with a 14-8 win over Whittier. Chad Simendinger led the Falcons with five goals while two-meter-man Brent Reimer had three. Air Force continued its dominance with a 10-6 win over Loyola Marymount in the semifinals. Again it was Simendinger and Reimer who led the team. Reimer netted four goals while Simendinger had three. The championship game was a familiar match-up of Air Force and UCSD. The 10-7 loss was highlighted for the Falcons by Simendinger's three goals and Derek Argel's two. Driver Casey Wood was named to the all-tournament first team. Simendinger and goalie Charlie Toth earned second-team honors. One of the highlights of the regular season was winning first place at their own tournament this fall, as well as moving into the third place in the Western Water Polo Association standings. Air Force started quickly with a 3-1 first-quarter lead over No. 20 UC-Santa Clara in the morning match Sunday and eventually ran away with a 13-8 win. Casey Wood led Falcon scorers with three points, followed by Wade Grabow, Chad Simendinger and Chris Smith with two points each and Derek Argel, Mark McGill, Brent Reimer and Steve Cruz each netted a goal. In the afternoon match, Air Force beat UC-Davis in a nail-biter 9-5. Davis put a scare into Air Force, by taking a 3-1 lead in the first quarter. The Falcons reversed their fortune in the second quarter by scoring three goals to the Aggies one. Argel was a one-man show in the first half, scoring three of the Falcons' goals. Wood netted the other point. Defense was the name of the game in the third quarter, as both teams were held scoreless. Both goalkeepers faced a combined three shots in the quarter. In the fourth quarter, Davis retook the lead, briefly, when Kevin Loscotoff scored. The Falcons battled back with Simendinger scoring two goals, McGill tallying another and Wood closing the deal with a goal with 47 seconds.
Several individuals garnered awards for the Falcons. Casey Wood was named team MVP along with making the WWPA first team. Charlie Toth, David Breitnebach and Mark McGill were named Academic All-Americans. Toth and Chad Simendinger were named to the second team in the WWPA and Brent Riemer and McGill were honorable mention in the WWPA.
Water Polo Quick Facts: