Rifle MVP named ... 2005 – 06 USAFA NCAA Rifle season
Senior Timothy Siemer was named the 2006 Most Valuable Marksmanship - Rifle award. Although he helped the rifle team set two Academy records this season, his most significant accomplishment was his rock-solid consistency. Beginning with the November match against the University of Nevada, Reno, he shot aggregate scores of at least 1156 X 1200 in six of his last seven contests, a feat unequaled by any other Academy rifle team members. Siemer's career highlights include an air rifle personal record of 584 X 600, and a smallbore personal record of 586 X 600.
It was a magic moment, one that we'll never forget. For sure, it was the moment that changed the course of the 2005 -- 06 USAFA NCAA Rifle season.
Senior Co-Captain "Timmy" Siemer was exactly halfway through the smallbore event in a match against the University of Nevada, Reno, in mid-November. The season was still fairly young, but we had shot enough matches to know that we weren't quite on track to meet our season goals. Siemer, a four-year letter winner, who was the heart and soul of the team had yet to shoot a strong score.
"Timmy's first 10-shot string in the off-hand (standing) position was a 90 X 100, well below our expectations, and an almost certain drop-off to another mediocre outing for the Batavia, IL, native", said head coach Justin Broughton. "As the coach, I was already parsing a meager pep talk to boost another middling performance; Timmy was not going to lead his team to victory that day."
The wonder and glory of sports is that the human spirit is not bounded by false limitations or colorless predictions, and stirring achievement is only a heartbeat away. Siemer showed his heart that day. Reaching deep down into that awesome competitive spirit, the team leader pulled out a record-setting performance. Shooting a season-best 99 X 100 in his next string--virtually unseen in NCAA competition--Siemer saved the day en route to a team-high score of 580 X 600, assuring victory over a team the Falcons had not beaten in several contests. "At that instant, I saw greatness in the form of a young man--and his teammates--who simply believed," said Broughton.
Siemer went on to shoot several consecutive matches at that high level, and his "reaching deep down" certainly helped to lift the team's spirit. In fact, the USAFA rifle team established two team records in 2005-06, in addition to several personal bests by every team member. The team consisting of Siemer, senior co-captain Chris Hill, junior Jess Palomba, and freshman Clifton Mulkey put an aggregate score of 4642 X 4800 in the Academy record books against Texas Christian University. That score beat by one point the previous record notched against the University of Texas, El Paso, and another team the Falcons had not beaten in many attempts until this season.
As the season progressed the Falcons grew stronger and stronger, and their 8 -- 6 record was their first winning season in five years. Powerhouse teams from around the country began to notice a new attitude and fire in the Falcons, as their scores continued to shoot upward. At the President's Cup competition, which pits all the service academies against each other, the Falcons out shot the U.S. Naval Academy team, and gave a scare to the Black Knights of West Point, the reigning NCAA champions at the time.
The cadets' ultimate shooting goal was to qualify for the annual NCAA Championships, where only the best eight teams in the country shoot for top honors in each rifle event. Sadly, the Falcons fell short this year, but their progress has been amazing. Two years ago, they finished the season ranked 17th nationally, and last year their final ranking was 13th. This year they charged into the 10th spot, missing an invitation to the Championships by just a few points. Still, the Air Force Academy hosted this year's championships, and although no Air Force shooters were on the line, the team's desire to compete at that level became even more intense. No doubt next year' team captain, Jess Palomba, will have the Falcons on a track to compete at the championships.
In addition to the team victories, the members celebrated great individual accomplishment. Chris Hill shot his way onto the All-American team for the third consecutive year--an amazing feat--and nine of the team members earned Academic All-American status. Freshman Chelsea Welsh received team honors for Most Improved Shooter--she shot personal records in eight successive matches this year. Siemer grabbed the Most Valuable Player award for his leadership and consistency. In addition, an accomplishment of which the coaches were most proud was the team members' performance in every area of their busy lives. The team achieved the top OPA--overall performance average--at the Academy, a measure of academic, military, and physical fitness performance.
The Falcons are sure to continue in excellence. Broughton transitioned from active duty Air Force to civilian status, ensuring the long-term stability of the team. In his eighth year with the team, Broughton now has the track record and recruiting muscle to ensure success in the future. In addition, assistant coach Lt Col Bill Roy will return for his third season, bringing with him a focus on mental training and competitive experience. "The most encouraging aspect for the future, however, is the return of our secret weapons: The great young men and women who stand on the line with the letters USAFA on their backs, and a desire to win in their hearts," added Broughton.