Seven Repeat Champions Highlight Wing Open Finals
March 3, 2011
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - With a chance to make the "Dirty Dozen", 24 members of the Air Force boxing team stepped into the ring under the lights of Clune Arena on Thursday, March 3, for the 53rd installment of the Wing Open Championships. With the majority of bouts going to the final bell, the Falcons showcased their talents and demanded a spot on the Falcons' national team.
The night featured seven repeat champions, including junior Mike McLain, who earned the Clune Outstanding Boxer Award following his third-straight championship at 175 pounds.
Sophomore Drew Pineda opened the night with a quick, decisive victory in the 112-pound bout. Facing freshman William Jeong, Pineda connected on a flurry of punches to force the referee to call the bout with 15 seconds remaining in the opening round. It is the second Wing Open title for Pineda, who won by a walkover as a freshman.
The next two bouts were also stopped before the final bell. Senior Matt DeMars caused the referee to halt his 119-pound bout with freshman Justin Zahn in the third round. Zahn stayed with the two-time defending Wing Open champion throughout the first two rounds, but DeMars came hard in third round and forced a stoppage seconds before the final bell. Junior Rainer Caparas, a Wing Open finalist in 2009, earned his first title at 125 pounds, when his opponent, freshman Stephen Bittner, was disqualified in the third round following several warnings and point deductions for illegal procedures.
Senior Michael Mizes, celebrating his 22nd birthday, successfully defended his Wing Open title at 132 pounds, by taking a decision from sophomore Will Petersen. In a rematch of last year's finals, Mizes gained the upper hand with scoring blows to earn the judges' votes. At 139 pounds, junior Dan Starr captured his second Wing Open title with a decision over freshman Andrew Munoz, while sophomore Glenn Miltenberg won his first championship bout at 147 pounds by decisioning junior Craig Spranger. Although Munoz and Spranger were both able to connect on some solid shots, Starr and Miltenberg were able to earn their respective titles.
In a repeat of last year's Wing Open finals, senior Joe Silvio and junior Tyrus Korecki took to the ring for the finals at 156 pounds. Both boxers accounted for multiple scoring shots, but Silvio was able to earn the decision from Korecki for the second straight year. In his first Wing Open Championship appearance, junior Casey Habluetzel upset defending champion Dalton Hall by decision in the 165-pound contest. With both the 156- and 165-pound bouts, momentum swung between both boxers before going to the judges for the ultimate decision.
McLain, the 2008 and 2009 Wing Open champion at 175 pounds, took on freshman Denis Voroboyov. The senior immediately took control of the ring, forcing Vorobyov to his knee early in the first round. Midway through the second two-minute round, McLain connected hard with Voroyov and forced the referee to stop the bout.
McLain becomes just the fourth 175-pound boxer to earn the Clune Outstanding Boxer Award, as voted on by the coaching staff and judges, and the first since current volunteer coach Capt Mark Clifford took home the trophy in 1997.
Seniors Will Kuechler and Reggie Howard toed the line at 185 pounds for the second straight year, with Kuechler successfully defending his title. Freshman Zak Spranger claimed his first title following a hard-hitting 195-pound contest with senior Matt Coates.
The final bout of the evening featured two heavyweights from Cadet Squadron 27. Freshman Nate Bratka, a member of the track team, out-pointed sophomore Brian Corcoran, a member of the Falcon football team, to earn the judges' vote. The two "big boys" came out firing and kept the crowd on their feet until the final bell, capping off a stellar night of Academy boxing.
The winners from tonight's championship bouts will form the nucleus of the team that will represent the Academy at the upcoming National Collegiate Boxing Association Campionships. Air Force will travel to Reno, Nev., for the NCBA West Regional on March 17-19.
Clune Outstanding Boxer Award: Mike McLain, 175 pounds