Five Falcons Repeat as Wing Open Champions
Feb. 20, 2014
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - With five Falcons successfully defending their titles, the Air Force boxing team wrapped up competition at the 2014 Wing Open Boxing Championships on Thursday, Feb. 20, with 10 hard-hitting bouts under the lights at Clune Arena. Senior Denis Vorobyov was awarded the Wing Open Outstanding Boxer award.
Just the fifth 165-pounder to earn the Outstanding Boxer trophy since the award was established in 1979, Vorobyov made an easy case for the judges' decision in his bout with junior Nick Holguin. He took control at the opening bell, before forcing a standing-eight count in the second round. Despite just seconds remaining on the clock, Vorobyov landed several more scoring blows to close out the set. Another standing-eight count in the third round solidified the judges' decision for the four-time finalist - his second Wing Open title in as many years.
In the night's first - and lightest - bout, sophomore Mateus Arcano earned a 112-pound victory by decision over newcomer Tim Tyson. A 2013 Wing Open finalist, Arcano held off an early flurry of activity from Tyson in the opening minutes and landed more scoring strikes, en route to the judges' decision. Following the 112-pound bout, the Falcons honored their two unopposed champions, freshman Adam Sumait (119 pounds) and senior Stephen Bittner (125 pounds).
Junior Roy Taylor, who won his first two titles at 125 pounds and moved up a weight class for the 2013-14 season, held off an upset bid from sophomore Peter Coote in the 132-pound bout to claim his third straight Wing Open title. Momentum swung back-and-forth between the two contenders throughout the six-minute bout, forcing the judges into a split decision vote that went in favor of Taylor.
Sophomore Jacob Berggren didn't let moving up a weight class stop him from claiming another Wing Open title. The 2013 champion at 132 pounds, Berggren earned the 139-pound victory following a decision over senior Ethan Salgado.
In the 147-pound bout, senior Sean Cork came out strong, quickly taking control of the ring and chasing freshman Pedro Barrientes along the ropes. Cork forced a standing-eight count in the opening round, but Barrientes responded and closed out the set with several solid jabs. Following a low scoring second round, both contenders came out strong in the third, trading a flurry of shots. Cork, a 2013 finalist, claimed his first Wing Open title, as he earned the judges' decision.
With the intensity that closed out the 147-pound bout, senior James Monk propelled that action into his 156-pound contest with freshman Samuel Sheikh. Monk, the defending Wing Open champion in that weight class, caused stranding-eight counts during each of the first two rounds, before forcing the referee to halt the match just 40 seconds into the third round.
The 175-pound bout featured a pair of first-time finalists in sophomore Giorgio Zendali and junior Brandon Pitts. Pitts took the early advantage, forcing Zendali into a standing-eight count during the first two minutes. He added another standing-eight in the third round, but Zendali was able to account for a large tally of scoring shots. The judges were split in their decision, with Pitts earning the deciding vote.
Sophomore Gytenis Borusas, a finalist at last year's event, faced freshman Javaughn Baltrip in a fast-paced contest in the 185-pound weight class. Borusas forced Baltrip into a corner, but the newcomer was able to escape and returned with a flurry of shots. Borusas, who eased into the contest while studying his opponent, came out firing in the second set and forced Baltrip into two early standing-eight counts. Borusas captured his first Wing Open title after another hard blow caused the referee to call the match with 15-seconds on the clock in the second set.
After missing last season's tournament with injury, senior Zac Spranger returned to the ring for this third Wing Open title. The 2011 champion at 195 pounds, Spranger moved down to the 185-pound weight class as a sophomore, before returning to his original division this season. Spranger took control of the ring at the opening bell, accounting for several hard strikes on freshman Laurynas Galdikas. The two traded jabs throughout the final two sets, but Spranger's management of the bout led to the judges' decision for his third title.
A pair of freshmen toed the line for the night's final bout, as Matas Leckas and Stevan Bacchur-Grant represented the Class of 2017 in the heavyweight contest. The momentum swung back-and-forth throughout the six-minute round, with Bacchur-Grant earning a split decision victory from the judges.
The winners from tonight's bouts will form the nucleus of the squad that will represent the Academy at the upcoming regional and national championship bouts. The National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) West Regional Championships, an event Air Force has won 33 of the last 34 years, will be held in Reno, Nev., during the March 13-15 weekend.