Part two of the Academy's Historical Facts of the 1999-2000 Athletics Season
Part One: Fall Sports
In the winter of 2000 ... The Falcons kicked-off the rest of the season as host to the Cadet Wing Open Boxing Tournament. And the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track Championships. And the MPSF Men's Gymnastics Championships and the National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships.
The Falcons finished seventh in the conference standings after being picked eighth in the preseason. The one spot improvement was second in the conference to UNLV's two spot improvement. The team snapped two prolonged losing streaks during the season. AFA defeated San Diego State, 81-77, in triple overtime to snap a 38-game conference road-losing streak. The win is also AFA's first in 20 conference road openers dating back to 1980-81.
Several Falcons received individual honors. Head coach Reggie Minton was named MWC co-coach of the year for the first time in his career. C2C (Jr.) Jarvis Croff was named second-team all-conference while finishing fifth in the league in scoring with a 17.3 average. He led the MWC in three-pointers made per game with a 2.96 average. Rookie Tom Bellairs exploded on the scene. The Denver, Colo., native was named MWC co-freshman of the year and was also selected for the all-newcomer team. Bellairs is only the second Falcon to earn the honors and the first since Raymond Dudley in 1986-87. Bellairs led the MWC in rebounding with a 9.2 average. He was best when he played the best. Bellairs finished the season as the only player to average a double, double in conference play with his 10.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Men's Basketball Quick Facts:
Numerous team and individual records were broken in the 1999-2000 season - some good and some bad. Most remarkable was Megan Thiedeman's record-breaking 82 three-pointers made, which set a new Air Force single season record. The previous record was 73, held by Kristen Hillery. Thiedeman finished her career with 173 three-pointers, also an Air Force record. Numerous Division I records were set; including the single season rebound record, set by Rozalyn Russ. Russ collected 136 boards, shattering Carrie Carrow's old mark of 145 rebounds. In the Falcons final home game of the season, Air Force suffered a 62-48 loss to Wyoming. The Falcons missed numerous scoring opportunities, as the lay ups and short jumpers would not fall. The team had 70 field goal attempts in the game, matching a season high. However, only 19 of those attempts dropped, as the team finished with a .271 shooting percentage. The Falcons missed 26 shots inside the paint. Even the free throws weren't falling, as the Falcons were seven of 16 (43.8 %) from the charity stripe. The Falcons hopes of snapping their nine-game losing streak were dashed in Utah, as they lost to BYU and Utah in the final two games of the regular season.
Air Force suffered an 86-69 loss to Brigham Young, despite a valiant second-half effort. Trailing by 29-points at the half, the Falcons refused to rollover. After forcing just six first-half turnovers, the Falcons' defense forced the Cougars into 18 second-half turnovers.
The Falcons would have the unpleasant opportunity of facing Utah for a third time -- in the Mountain West Conference tournament. It was not the opponent the Falcons would hope to face in their first conference tournament appearance as a Division I school. Few people gave the team a chance of winning its first round game against Utah. After all, the Utes had defeated the Falcons by 50 points just four days prior to the teams' match up in Las Vegas. But in a city of hopes and dreams, where even the long shots have a chance of winning, the Falcons put a scare in the Utes. The Falcons ultimately lost 65-29, but the game was much closer than the final score would indicate. The Falcons stayed close throughout the first half of the game. Although they lost to Utah twice in the year by a combined 85 points, they never quit believing they could win. However, the Utes defense was too much in the end, stifling the Falcons' hopes of an upset. The Utes used a second-half 31-3 run to pull away midway through the second half for the victory. Despite suffering a nine-minute scoring drought, Air Force trailed by just eight points at halftime. After cutting the lead to six in the second half, the shots quit falling for the Falcons. In the final 15:24 of the game, the Falcons managed just three free throws and no field goals. Utah was red hot, shooting 59 percent from the field in the second half. They closed out the game on a 31-3 run. The Falcons' 29 points tie an Air Force record for fewest points in a game. Although the season ended on a 12-game losing streak, the Air Force women's team has high hopes for the future. The team played with intensity and pride throughout the season, only to come up just short on numerous occasions. Head coach Sue Darling has established herself as a competitor and a strong recruiting class can only help the Falcons continue to improve and compete.
Women's Basketball Quick Facts:
The team opened the season with an uneventful open tournament in New Mexico, followed by the annual Nick Toth Open, a tournament hosted by Air Force. A record number of participants headed to the Springs to participate in the Nick Toth Open, as fencers came from all over Colorado, as well as New Mexico, Wyoming and Kansas.
C4C Weston Kelsey, a nationally ranked fencer, breezed through the competition at the Nick Toth Open to capture first place. Kelsey, a freshman at Air Force, defeated 66 other fencers to win the epee division. Kelsey, a freshman, was an excellent recruit for the Falcons, and was ranked third in the nation at the junior level.
Cadet Chris Jones captured seventh place in the foil division. It was the best result in years at foil, which has typically been a weak spot for Air Force. Also at foil, Margaret Kucia progressed to the semi-finals and qualified for the Junior Olympics. C4C Anthony Pryor was a pleasant surprise for the Falcons. Pryor, a walk-on to the Air Force fencing team, has only been fencing for a few months. He finished 22nd overall epee, and qualified for the Junior Olympic championships. C4C Elia Burill, also a walk-on, missed qualifying for the Junior Olympics by two touches in women's epee.
Olympic hopeful Kelsey traveled to Pittsburgh in the fall to compete against the top fencers in USA and Canada in the North American Cup. He captured first place at the junior level, cementing himself as one of the top young fencers in the nation.
Kelsey continued his dominance at the Armed Forces Open and the Falcon Open, capturing first place in both. Team captain Eli Bremer also had a terrific weekend. Fencing epee, he took second place at the Falcon Open and 11th place at the Armed Forces Open. Sean Blas (Sabre) captured third place at the Falcon Open, while Chris Jones (Foil) grabbed fifth place. The best finish by a woman fencer was team captain Laura Powell. Fencing against tough competition at epee, Powell finished in the top 10 at the Falcon Open. At the Armed Forces Open, Powell took 14th place. In February, six fencers traveled to Sacramento, Calif., to compete in the Junior Olympic Championships. Kelsey defeated 149 other fencers to capture first place at epee. Jones placed 60th at foil, while Anthony Pryor and Douglas Medley did not finish in the top 50 in their divisions. For the women, Jamie Rasmussen was 36th at sabre, while Margaret Kucia was 34th of 122 fencers in foil. The Falcons began dual competition in January, competing in the Notre Dame Invitational. Both teams did well against some of the toughest competition in the country. The men's team defeated Northwestern, Wayne State, Cleveland State and Florida. They lost by one point to Duke, and were defeated by perennial powerhouse Notre Dame and national champion Penn State.
The women's team was 3-4 in dual action. They defeated Cleveland State, Wayne State and Florida. They lost to Duke by three points, and were dominated in losses to Notre Dame, Northwestern and national champion Penn State. The team then traveled to North Carolina for dual competition in the Duke Invitational. The men's team did exceptionally well, winning four of five dual meets. They defeated Ohio State, Brandeis, MIT and North Carolina. Their only defeat of the weekend was a point loss to Duke. Behind nationally ranked Weston Kelsey, the team did exceptionally well in epee. In the five meets, of the 45 points possible, they scored 36 points in epee. They totaled 24 and 22 in sabre and foil. The women's team was also victorious, winning three of five dual meets. They defeated Brandeis, Ohio State, and MIT. The team lost to Duke and North Carolina. Again, epee was the team's strongest weapon. They led all teams, scoring 34 points in epee. They scored 14 and 18 in foil and sabre. The Falcons then headed to San Diego to participate in Western Regionals. This was an important event for both fencing teams, as it would factor in determining qualifiers for the NCAA championships. The women's team did exceptionally well at regionals, winning first place in two of three weapons. The women's epee and foil teams captured first place at the event. The sabre team was second, falling to Stanford's sabre team. Individually, Elia Burrill (Epee) captured first place, gaining a berth at the NCAA championships. Captain Laura Powell (Epee) took fourth place overall. At foil, Kristen Wenner took third place overall while teammate Margaret Kucia was fourth. Jamie Rasmussen, despite placing fifth overall at sabre, was awarded a berth to the NCAA's. Led by first-place finisher Kelsey, the men's epee team captured first place overall. Kelsey, a legitimate candidate for an NCAA title, lost just one bout throughout the tournament. Christopher Jones (Foil-4th), Sean Blas (Sabre-4th) and Wilbert Gettys (Epee-5th) were the other top-five finishers for the Falcons. The men's sabre team was placed third overall, while the foil team was fifth place. Jones was a surprise qualifier for the NCAA finals. The Falcons' fencing teams finished their season March 23-26, when four Air Force fencers participated for the NCAA championships in Palo Alto, Calif. The team placed 19th out of 28 participating teams.
On the men's side, Weston Kelsey (Epee) finished ninth, earning All-America status. Chris Jones (Foil) placed 20th overall. On the women's side, Elia Burrill (Epee) was 19th, while Jamie Rasmussen (Sabre) placed 24th. All four of the Falcons' qualifiers were freshman. The future looks bright for the Falcons' fencing team. With so many young players gleaming valuable experience, the team should be strong next season.
Fencing Quick Facts:
Air Force won its first tournament in school history in mid-December when the Falcons defeated Salem State and New England College to win the Radisson Inn Hockey Classic hosted at the Academy. However, following the Christmas break, the Falcons lost seven of its next nine, three of which were to nationally ranked Niagara and Colorado College. After a disappointing 3-1 loss at Findlay, Feb. 4, the Falcons bounced back with one of the strongest finishes in school history. Air Force won seven of its next nine games and clinched a spot in the inaugural CHA tournament. The final regular-season home game was a thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win over Bemidji State. The next weekend, Air Force traveled to West Point and swept Army for the second straight time. The Falcons extended their eight-game unbeaten streak over the Black Knights with 4-2 and 3-0 wins as Army was knocked out of the CHA Tournament. After splitting with Findlay during the regular season, the Falcons won the biggest game of the series in the elimination game of the tournament. Air Force scored three third-period goals in a 4-1 win over Findlay as the Falcons advanced to the final four. The prize for advancing to the final four was the right to face 13th-ranked Niagara, a team that was selected to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Eagles, the eventual CHA tournament champions, raced to a 3-0 first period lead en route to a 9-1 win over the Falcons. As exciting as the 2000 season was, next season could be even better. The Falcons return 87 percent of the scoring from this season as well as goalie Kielkucki. With that nucleus joining another talented recruiting class, the Falcons could be one of the CHA's top teams.
Ice Hockey Quick Facts:
Rifle Quick Facts:
The Falcons won the Early Bird Invitational in Ft. Collins in late October. Turning in outstanding efforts were Tyler Paige, who took top honors in the 50-freestyle (21.56) and 100-freestyle (47.51), and Matt Ihlenfeld, who won the 100 (59.82) and 200-breast (2:08.43). Steinfort also took the top spot in the 200-backstroke (1:54.17). Also contributing to the Falcons' win was Finch, who took first place in the 200-IM (1:59.88). The Falcons dominated the relay events, taking top spots in the 400-freestyle relay (3:12.10), 400-medley relay (3:30.21), and 200-medley relay (1:37.71). The Falcons quickly followed with a win over the Colorado School of Mines (105-87).
Against CSM, the Falcons took top billing in all but two events. Leading the way for the Falcons were Paschke, who took top honors in the 200-freestyle (1:45.65) followed by Stewart Parker with a time of 1:46.06. Andrew Smith placed first in the 50-freestyle with a time of 22.49 followed by teammate Matt Tarantino with a time of 22.59. Smith also took first in the 100-butterfly with a time of 51.93. Smith's efforts earned him the MWC Swimmer of the Week honor during the week of Nov. 1-7, 1999. Contributing to the Falcons' win were Finch, who took first place in the 400-IM (4:19.74) with Dayton second (4:27.75) and Horner third (4:33.57).
The Falcons mastered the relay events taking top spots in the 200-medley relay with the team of Steinfort, Ihlenfeld, Smith and Paige (1:37.68) and the 800-freestyle relay with the team of Dayton, Paschke, Parker, and Finch. In the 100-breaststroke, Ihlenfeld took the number-one spot with a time of 1:00.07. Steinfort (54.13) and Marshal Haylett (49.62) placed first in the 100- backstroke and 100-freestyle, respectively.
The Falcons added another win to their season by defeating Metro State (163-75) in Denver. Air Force soared over the Roadrunners, dominating the competition by taking first in each event. The 400- medley relay with the team of Steinfort, Ihlenfeld, Smith and Paschke (3:31.87) started off the winning for the Falcons. In the second event, JP McCroan took the top spot in the 1000-freestyle (10:06.07). The 200-freestyle saw Parker touching the wall first with a time of 1:44.43. Paschke and Paige went 1-2 in the 50-freestyle with times of (21.76) and (21.82) respectively. Paige also finished first in the 100-freestyle (48.23), followed by Smith (49.63). In the 200-backstroke, Dustin Nowak came in at (2:01.32), and in the 200-breaststroke, Ihlenfeld topped the competition at 2:10.14.
Wyoming handed the Falcons their first loss of the season, beating the Falcons by a mere one point margin in Laramie, WY (122-121). The Falcons were lead by Paschke, who placed first in the 100-freestyle and in the 50-freestyle with times of 47.35 and 21.43 respectively. Finch placed first in the 200-IM (1:57.54) and Steinfort won the 200-backstroke (1:56.20). Ihlenfeld placed first for Air Force in the 200-breaststroke with a time of 2:08.57. The Falcons won the two relay events (400-freestyle and the 400-medley) with times of 3:10.83 and 3:30.72.
In the diving events, Hulse placed second in the three-meter with 240.60 points followed by Marion with 234.15 points. Marion also placed third in the one-meter with 228.68 points.
During November's Minnesota Invite, the Falcons placed seventh out of 12 teams. The Falcons' Ihlenfeld brought home Invitational Championships in the breaststroke events with a 1:02.15 in the 100-meter breaststroke and a 2:16.27 in the 200-meter breaststroke. Paige came in fourth in the 50-freestyle (23.37). Paschke placed sixth in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 51.40 and fifth in the 50-freestyle with a time of 23:39. Mike Grados placed seventh in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 56.24, while Parker took the eighth spot in the 200-meter freestyle. Divers Marion and Hulse placed 10th and 11th in the men's three-meter diving with scores of 396.55 and 390.45 respectively. In the one-meter Marion placed 14th with 364.2 and Hulse 15th with 353.8 points.
After Christmas, the Falcons soundly defeated the University of California at San Diego, 52-29, in a relay-dual meet. The Air Force relay teams controlled the meet, taking first-place honors in every event.
Air Force had strong performances in the sprint freestyle events as they defeated Georgia Tech 116-89. Taking top spots in the 50-freestyle were Paige (21.26) and Toth (21.27). In the 100-freestyle, Paige and Paschke tied for first at 47.65, while Nate Amidon came in at 49.26. In the 200-freestyle event, Parker clocked in at 1:47.57 for a second-place finished followed by Andrew Wells (1:48:23). Parker was also the top Falcon in the 500-freestyle at 4:54.20. Finch again took first in the 200-IM at 1:58.90. Teammate James Bales took third place with a time of 1:59.89. Grados and Andrew Badgett took the second and third place in the 200-fly with 2:01.77 and 2:03.16 respectively.
In the 200-breast event, Ihlenfeld took the top spot with a time of 2:05.32, a strong showing that earned him MWC Swimmer of the week honors for the week of Jan. 10-16. The Falcons made a forceful showing in the 200-back taking the second through fifth. Scott Percival led the way for the Falcons with a time of 1:56.67 followed by Horner (1:57.44), Steinfort (1:58.56), and Nowak (2:04.99). The Falcons also won both relay events, with Steinfort, Ihlenfeld, Grados, and Toth taking honors in the 400-medley relay (3:28.33) and the team of Paschke, Parker, Toth and Paige winning the 400-freestyle relay (3:10.13).
Conference-rival BYU gave the Falcons their second loss of the season in mid-January. BYU prevailed over Air Force with a 141-102 win. Despite the loss, Falcon swimmers managed to clock in with several top times.
Paschke took first in the 50-freestyle with a time of 21.29. Toth put in a great effort in the 100-freestyle clocking in at 46.26 for the first place spot, and Ihlenfeld took the top honors in the 200-breast with a time of 2:07.80.
A solid 139-91 victory over Denver pushed the Falcons to a 7-2 record. Highlights in the meet included: Parker's winning the 1000-freestyle with a time of 10:07.10. Marshal Haylett clocked in first in the 200-freestyle with a time of 1:45.43, while Paschke placed first in the 50-freestyle (21.69) and the 100-freestyle (48.76). Grados won the 100-butterfly at 52.24, while McCroan recorded the top time in the 500-freestyle at 4:53.25.
A close 105-100 win over Washington moved the Falcons to an 8-2 record. Against Washington, Air Force won the opening 400-medley relay and went on to take the top times in five of the 11 events. Toth placed first in the 50-freestyle with a time of 21.20, and Paschke won the 100-freestyle (46.24). The turning point of the meet came when Parker upset UW's top swimmer in winning the 500-freestyle (4:39.00). Ihlenfeld again took top honors in the 200-breaststroke (2:02.99), forcing the meet to be decided in the last relay. The team of Paschke, Parker, Toth and Paige was too much for the Huskies, as they won the 400-freestyle relay in 3:03.78.
The Falcons ended the season with a 130-164 loss to conference-rival UNLV, bringing their final dual mark to 8-3. Taking first place for Air Force was Scott Percival in the 200-back (1:54.53) and Ihlenfeld in the 200-breast (2:05.01). Ihlenfeld also took second in the 100-breast (56.97) followed by Dayton (59.15) and Bales (1:00.40). In the 200-fly, Finch took second (1:57.04), and in the 50-freestyle, Paige and Toth finished third (21.15) and fourth (21.18). Swimming solid times were McCroan, third in the 1000-freestyle with a time of (9:55.31), Parker in the 200-freestyle, third at 1:44.25, and Steinfort in the 100-back (53.61). Paschke took third in the 100-freestyle (46.04) followed by Toth in fourth at (46.78).
Jim Marion had one of his best meets of the season during the BYU Diving Invitational where he placed ninth in the men's one-meter finals. Hulse placed eighth in the men's one-meter finals with a score of 413.2 while Jeff Roberson followed in 10th place with a 321.45 score. In the three-meter finals Hulse placed fifth (472.85) followed by Marion, eighth (418.1) and Roberson 10th (356.2)
The Falcons put forth a tremendous effort at the MWC championships. They established five Academy records and rewrote the Academy's Top-10 time's list. At the championships, the Falcons demonstrated their superior depth as each athlete competed in at least one Championship Final. The squad also continued its ascent in conference standings, improving from a sixth-place finish in 1999 to a third place finish in 2000.
During the championships third-year swimmers Toth and Ihlenfeld led the Falcons. Toth won the Academy's first ever Mountain West Conference Championship when he captured first place in the 100-freestyle (44.45), breaking Bucky MacLaughlin's Academy record time of 44.50 set it in 1991. In the very next event at the championships, Ihlenfeld touched the wall first to win the 200-breaststroke (2:00.47), breaking his previous Academy record of 2:00.88. Ihlenfeld also broke his own Academy record in the 100-breaststroke with a time of 55.29 (he swam 55.60 in 1999). Additionally, Toth was second in the 50-freestyle and anchored the school record-breaking 200-Medley Relay (1:31.92), following relay teammates Steinfort, Ihlenfeld, and Smith.
Backstroker Horner established a new Academy record in the 200-backstroke (1:48.76) dissolving his previous record (1:49.56 in 1999). Steinfort, Nowak, and Percival joined Horner in the backstroke events to score big points for the Falcons.
Also turning in solid all-around performances and contributing to the Falcons third-place finish at the championships were Paschke, who won the Consolation Final in the 200-freestyle, and placed in the top eight in both the 50 and 100-freestyle. McCroan placed second in the 1,650 freestyle (15:49.51) and earned a place on the Academy's top-10 with his 4:34.61 time in the 500-freestyle. Finch finished third in the 400-IM and also recorded a Top-10 Academy All-time performance in the 200-butterfly, finishing seventh at the championships. Parker recorded top-eight finishes in the 200-freestyle and 1650-freestyle.
Divers Marion and Hulse scored huge points in the three diving events, finishing sixth (Hulse, 370.40) and seventh (Marion, 340.90) on the Platform event. Additionally, they were seventh (Marion, 425.75) and eighth (Hulse, 392.85) on the one-meter. Hulse also placed seventh with 411.15 points in the three-meter event while Marion placed 12th in the preliminaries with 380.10.
Experience, talent, strong leadership and a competitive spirit have helped forge the Falcons into a top-notch team of swimmers and divers. Since taking command of the Falcon men's swimming program in 1998, coach Rob Clayton has begun the task of transforming Academy swimmers into some of the nation's top contenders. His squads continue to assault the Academy record book and move up in the conference.
As the 2000-2001 season approaches, with the majority of the conference scorers returning and a promising recruit class, the Academy swimmers and divers are on the verge of achieving even greater accomplishments. The Falcons have their eye on a Mountain West Conference Championship and a top showing at the NCAA Championships.
Men's Swimming Quick Facts:
Mary Edith Smith earned new rankings on the Academy all-time top 10 lists in the 50-freestyle with a time of 23.90 placing her fourth on the list and the 100-butterfly with a time of 58.47 placing her fifth on the top-10 list. Erin Mukri earned the sixth place on the 100 (59.00) and the fifth place (2:09.65) on the 200-backstroke lists. Monique Van't Wout earned a new season-best time in the 100-backstroke and held on to her fifth place ranking on the top-10 list.
It was a tough rebuilding year for the Falcons who started the season with a strong desire to improve on previous year's records.
The Falcon swim team wrapped up their competition in the Mountain West Championships with an eighth place finish in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Falcons ended with a score of 246.
Among the Falcons top finishers on the first day of competition were the team of Smith, Mukri, Van't Wout, and Miller who finished eighth in the 200-freestyle relay. Silva placed eighth in the one-meter diving with a total of 329.85 points. The team of Van't Wout, Stewart, Staubitz and Smith placed seventh in the 200-medley relay with a time of 1:49.21.
Smith topped her season best time as she placed fifth in the 50-freestyle with a time of 23.90 on the second day of competition. The team of Van't Wout, Stewart, Moerer, and Smith placed eighth in the 400-medley relay. Van't Wout finished 10th in the 100-backstroke (58.83) followed by Mukri at 59.00. Silva placed eighth in the three-meter diving event with 402.45 points. The team of Miller, Turner, Ross and Cleaver placed eighth in the 800-freestyle relay with a time of 7:55.66.
Ross finished 12th in the 1650-freestyle with a time of 18:01.13 followed by teammate Turner with a time of 18:03.50. Van't Wout finished sixth in the 200-backstroke (2:05.05). Moerer placed 13th in the 200-butterfly with a time of 2:09.78 followed by Kroschel in the 15th place with a time of 2:11.14. Silva wrapped up the competition for the Falcons when she placed seventh in the platform diving event with a total of 277.35 points.
Law went on to an 11th-place finish in the women's one-meter springboard during the Zone E Diving Championships, held March 10-11 in Federal Way, Wash. Law finished eleventh with 374.15 points on the first day of competition. On the second day, Law finished thirteenth in the women's three-meter with 434.00 points.
An eighth-place finish in the MWC championships may not be the finish the Falcons expected this season, but with the exceptionally strong returning classes, and the addition of recruits, the swimming and diving teams will be able to make another attempt at a conference championship and a national ranking next season.
Women's Swimming Quick Facts:
Men's & Women's Indoor Track:
The top Falcon performer in the championship race was Kevin Griswold in the 400-meters who was the lone event winner. Griswold ran 47.48, which was the fastest time run in the conference all season. Pole vaulter Jake Gensic placed second in the event at a height of 17-0 ". It was the first time in Gensic's career he cleared 17 feet. David Klein finished second in the high jump with a personal best of 6-7 . Matt Puckett finished second in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.09, just three one hundredths off of his personal best in the event. Joe Lopez placed third in the mile with a time of 4:17.56. Tony Jones went from sixth place to a second-place finish on his last attempt in the long jump with a leap of 23-2. He placed fifth in the triple jump with a jump of 47-8. In the women's competition, Ana-Maria Ortega, LNetta Banks and Rachel Smith were the primary point setters. Ortega set a new school record in the pole vault at 11-11 ". Banks placed seventh in the high jump at 5-5 and Smith finished sixth in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10:31.34.
Indoor Track Quick Facts:
Sophomores Andy Peters and Scott Frohardt led the team. Frohardt, a returning NCAA qualifier, was consistently ranked in the top 20, and finished the season ranked 17th in the nation. He was voted the team's Most Valuable Player. Peters surprised many, upsetting numerous opponents throughout the season. He quietly worked his way into the national rankings, finishing the season at the 16th spot.
The Falcons dominated their first event of the season, defeating Colorado School of Mines 36-3. The wrestlers were victorious in nine of 10 weight classes. C1C Johnston pinned his opponent in 3:30, C2C Alex Pelbath won by fall, and Frohardt recorded a 23-8 technical fall. All other wins were by decision.
The Falcons traveled to Wyoming for the Cowboy Open. Numerous Air Force wrestlers placed in the event. Brady-Lee captured first place in the 149-pound weight class, while Johnston captured fourth place at heavyweight. In the 20 & Under section, newcomers C4C Ryan Kaiser took first place, and C4C Mark Jacobsen captured second place.
The Falcons then traveled to Pueblo for the Southern Colorado Open. Nine Air Force wrestlers placed in the event. Brady-Lee led the charge, capturing first place in the 149-pound weight class. It was his second first-place finish in as many events. Johnston captured second place at heavyweight, losing a 3-4 decision in the finals. Alex Pelbath was the team's only other first-place finisher.
The Falcons traveled to Norman for the Oklahoma Open. Facing stiff competition, several Air Force wrestlers placed in the event. Johnston continued to perform well at heavyweight, taking third place. For the second straight week, newcomer Kevin Hoy wrestled well at the 197-pound weight class. He defeated Jacobe Austin 4-3 to capture third place. Austin had defeated Hoy earlier in the day. Brady-Lee captured third place in the 149-pound weight class. Frohardt had the best Falcon finish, capturing 2nd place at the competitive 157-pound weight class.
In the Falcons' second dual meet of the season, a forfeit at the 125-pound weight class ended up costing the team a win. The forfeit cost Air Force six points, while the team dropped the meet 19-15.
On a brighter note, the Falcons had their best showing ever at the Collegiate Invitational. For the first time since competing in the event, the Falcons had two wrestlers place in the top eight of their weight classes. Peters finished eighth at 133 pounds, and Frohardt finished seventh at 157 pounds. Every wrestler won at least one match. The team finished 22nd overall among 47 schools teams that competed. One highlight of the tournament was when Frohardt upset the second-ranked wrestler in the nation in his weight class.
The Falcons were up against a tough opponent in 7th-ranked Michigan, but did quite well. Four of the teams' wrestlers scored victories, including Frohardt, who scored a 5-3 decision over Michigan's Holifeld. Kevin Hoy scored a major decision at the 197-pound weight class. Peters (133) and Alex Pelbath (165) were also victorious.
Air Force did not perform as well against Hofstra, losing 9-30. Heavyweight Phil Johnston was the lone Falcon to win his match, capturing a 9-2 decision. Scott Jenkins grabbed six team points for the Falcons, winning by forfeit.
The Falcons then faced 4th ranked Illinois, and despite losing 33-9, the team wrestled well. Three of the Falcons' wrestlers knocked off nationally ranked opponents.
Peters started the action with a thrilling 5-2 decision over the Illini's David Stoltz. Peters, wrestling at 133 pounds, had a quick takedown to score two points, then controlled the tempo throughout the remainder of the match. Peters sealed the victory with an escape late in the final period, followed by a takedown. Stoltz had entered the match ranked 18th in the nation.
Frohardt wrestled 8th ranked Griff Powell at 157 pounds. Powell scored first on a takedown and maintained a lead until late in the second period. With just seconds remaining in the second period, Frohardt scored an escape and a takedown just as the buzzer sounded. Frohardt was awarded two points, as Powell stalled to catch his breath, and Frohardt won an 8-7 decision.
Pelbath (165) followed Frohardt's victory with another exciting match. Trailing the entire match against 13th ranked Bill Zeman, Pelbath scored a takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the second period to tie the score 4-4. In the final period, Pelbath notched an escape followed by a takedown. He then controlled Zeman for the remainder of the match to grab a 7-4 decision.
The Falcons followed up the Illinois dual match with the Colorado Collegiate Tournament, and captured first place. The team score was 84.5 points, enough to beat second place Southern Colorado by 11.5 points.
Frohardt, who won first place in the 157-pound weight class, captured Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. Frohardt is ranked 17th in the nation. Ryan Montanez, who placed third at 141 pounds, won the Most Falls award, and coach Wayne Baughman was selected as the tournament's Coach of the Year.
Other Falcons wrestlers to place in the tournament include Peters, first place at 133 pounds; Brady-Lee, third place at 149 pounds; Pelbath, first place at 165 pounds; Parham, second place at 174 pounds; Hoy, first place at 197 pounds; and Johnston, first place at heavyweight.
In the opening dual meet of the Oregon Classic, the wrestling team crushed Cal State Fullerton winning 42-9. Peters (133), Montanez (141), Frohardt (157), Parham (184) and Johnston (Hwt) all pinned their opponents, earning six team points apiece.
In a tight battle, the Falcons defeated Portland State in the second dual meet of the Oregon Classic. After forfeiting the 125-pound weight class and falling behind 6-0, Air Force tied the match with victories by Peters (133) and Montanez (141). Frohardt (157) and Pelbath (165) were also victorious, but the Falcons were trailing 16-12 heading into the final two matches. Hoy (197) won a 10-0 major decision to tie the score, and heavyweight Phil Johnston won by forfeit to seal the victory for the Falcons.
It took a come-from-behind victory by Johnston (Hwt) to give the Falcons a 19-15 victory over Cal Poly. With Air Force clinging to a one-point lead, Johnston scored two late points to grab a 7-6 decision and secure the Falcons' third straight wins at the Oregon Classic. Five other Falcons were victorious in their matches, including nationally-ranked Frohardt (157), who won a 12-3 decision.
The Falcons won their fourth consecutive dual meet against Western State, losing only two matches - one by forfeit. Eight Falcons' grapplers walked away victorious in the 31-10 team victory.
15th-ranked Frohardt (157) knocked off WSC's Royce Johnson 9-7 in a close match. Johnson, who is ranked fifth among Division II wrestlers, gave Frohardt all he could handle, but fell short of the upset.
In one of the best matches of the meet, Sam Sheretz came from behind to grab a victory for his team. Trailing 10-3 to the Mountaineer's Adam Anders with under a minute remaining, it looked as though Sheretz would be defeated. But a last second takedown allowed Sheretz to pin Anders with 11 seconds remaining in the match.
The Falcons next captured first place in the sixth annual USAA All-Academy Wrestling Championships. The team scored 102.5 points, enough to beat runner up Army by 7.5 points.
In the night's most exciting final, Pelbath won a 6-5 sudden death overtime decision over number one seeded Matt Erwin of V.M.I. Pelbath scored a point with under 20 seconds remaining to tie the score at four apiece and send the match into overtime. Both wrestlers were exhausted and having trouble wrestling when the referee awarded each wrestler one point for stalling, sending the match to sudden death. Pelbath won the match on an escape to capture the 165-pound title.
Peters (133), Frohardt (157) and Hoy (197) were also victorious in championship matches for the Air Force Academy. Wayne Baughman was selected as Coach of the Year.
Air Force then extended its win streak to five, when the team won the final three matches of a dual against Adams State College to win 32-15.
The Falcons rallied from an early 9-0 deficit with a Phillip Johnston pin at 6:20. The teams stood tied at 15-15 with three matches remaining before Frohardt, Pelbath and Parham recorded wins at the 157, 165 and 174 respective weights.
The Falcons then came home to wrestle against Southern Colorado. They won all but two matches, defeating Southern Colorado 31-12 to win their sixth consecutive dual meet.
Nationally ranked Frohardt (16th) and Peters (15th) continued to wrestle well for the Falcons. Frohardt recorded a fall over USC's Vail Minn in the final period of the 157-pound match. Peters scored a 13-1 victory at the 133-pound weight class. Six other wrestlers were victorious in their matches to give the Falcons the victory.
The Cowboys grabbed a 21-18 victory over the Falcons in the final match of the Feb. 18 dual meet. Bryan Wood defeated Scott Frohardt at 157 pounds to give the Cowboys the victory.
In a match between two former Western Athletic Conference champions (in 1999 Wood was the WAC champion at 165 pounds and Frohardt was the champion at 149), Wood took control in the third period for the win. The match was tied at 2-2 entering the third period, but Wood outscored Frohardt 7-1 in the final stanza with a reversal, near-fall and a takedown.
Wyoming built a 12-3 lead after four matches. But with four wins in the next five matches, Air Force tied the dual at 18, before Wood took over.
Johnston pinned Cowboy freshman Brad Steele at 5:56 and then Wyoming's Cisco Gonzales (125) pinned Wes Bennett at the 5:54 mark. At 133, Peters surprised Wyoming senior Corey Hamrick, ranked #13 in the country, by winning an 8-1 decision. Air Force won two one-point matches at 141 and 149 to tie the dual at 18. But Wood was able to win his 157-pound match and allow Wyoming to snap the Falcons' winning streak.
Against BYU in the Falcons final dual meet of the season, Air Force held a 12-7 lead before BYU's three straight pins blew the tight match wide open. It took a total of nine minutes and 14 seconds for the Cougars to score 18 points and take control match. BYU went on to win the contest 28-15.
Air Force finished in fourth place at the western regional tournament. The team scored 66 points, enough to defeat Fresno State by a half point. The winner, host Northern Iowa, finished with 146.5 points.
Individually, the Falcons had a disappointing finish, as only one wrestler qualified for the NCAA championships. Frohardt was defeated 5-4 in the championship match at the 157-pound weight class. He scored a 7-5 overtime victory over BYU's Rocky Smart to win second place, and secured an at-large berth for the NCAA's.
Sam Sheretz (184) also won second place, but was denied an at-large bid to the national championships. Peters (133), who had wrestled well all season and was ranked nationally, was also denied a bid to the NCAA's.
In St. Louis at the NCAA championships, Frohardt, ranked 16th in the nation at the 157-pound weight class, faced stiff competition. His opening round opponent, Michigan State's Gary Marynard, was ranked 10th in the nation. Maynard pinned Frohardt at the 1:59 mark of the first round. Wrestling in the loser's bracket, Frohardt went on to defeat Nate Wachter of Penn State in a 4-1 decision. He then suffered a 6-3 loss to David Kieldgard of Oklahoma, which eliminated him from the tournament.
Overall, the Falcons wrestling team can be proud of their successful season. They overcame injuries and battled inexperience to garner a winning record. The future also looks bright for the Falcons, as the team loses only two seniors. They should continue to improve and get stronger, and should contend for a western regional title.
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