Falcons Select National Team with Wing Open Finals
March 4, 2010
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - With the chance to be named one of the `Dirty Dozen', 18 members of the Air Force boxing team stepped into the ring under the lights of Clune Arena on Thursday, March 4, for the 52nd installment of the Wing Open Championships. With only one of the nine bouts ending before the final bell, the Falcons showcased their talents, as they demanded a spot on the Falcons' national team.
Senior Sam Sheppard, making his collegiate debut, raced out of the corner at the first bell and quickly staked his claim on the 125-pound title. Sheppard showcased his quickness in the bout with Vicente Vasquez. The freshman couldn't overcome his hard-hitting opponent in Sheppard, and after three standing eight counts in the opening round, the referee stopped the bout, giving Sheppard the title.
Another pair of Wing Open finalists stepped into the ring for the 132-pound bout. Junior Michael Mizes toed the line with freshman William Petersen. Mizes forced Petersen against the ropes in the early part of the bout, connecting on several hard body shots, as well as several key uppercuts. Despite the referee calling a standing eight in each round, Petersen didn't give up and battled Mizes to the end. The judges unanimously awarded the bout to Mizes, who improved to an impressive 7-0 on the year.
Defending Wing Open champion Daniel Starr returned to the ring in the 139-pound bout, facing senior Bailey Ball, who was denied the title during his last appearance in the finals during the 2008 season. Ball came out hard, taking control of the ring early. Starr responded and the two boxers traded punches until the final bell. Following a hard-hitting six minutes, the judges awarded the decision to Ball, who concluded his cadet career with his first Wing Open title.
Junior Michael Dunn, a two-time Wing Open finalist, stepped into the ring for the 147-pound contest, facing freshman standout Ben Fox. The two fought hard, trading blows, as well as ring advantage, for the entire bout. However, once the judges' votes had been tallied, Dunn was awarded his first Wing Open title. Junior Joe Silvio claimed his first Wing Open title, after a well-fought bout with sophomore Tyrus Korecki in the 156-pound bout. For the second straight bout, punch tallies and ring control were traded between the boxers for the six-minute duration of the bout.
In the 165-pound bout, junior Dalton Hall got the best of sophomore Nick Cataldo, the recipient of last year's Wing Open Outstanding Boxer award. Hall improved to 7-1 on the year with the judges' selection, using a well-planned bout and an aggressor mentality. Sophomore Mike McLain successfully defended his Wing Open title at 175 pounds, decisioning classmate Spencer Baucke. Despite being in the same class, McLain was able to use his experience as a NCBA All-American to defeat his opponent, as he controlled the pace of the bout and kept Baucke against the ropes.
Junior Will Keuchler came out swinging from the first bell of his 185-pound bout with classmate Reggie Howard. He immediately connected on several hard shots, causing the referee to call a standing eight count in the first round. Keuchler caused stoppages from the referee in both the second and third rounds, before having his hand raised based on a unanimous decision from the judges.
The final bout featured the "big boys" as heavyweight contenders junior Mike Chambers and senior Richard Meldrum stepped into the ring. Both boxers traded punches to the body and appeared to gain momentum from the crowd's enthusiasm as the bout progressed. Chambers was able to gain the upper hand midway through the bout, but Meldrum responded and the decision went to the final bell. Chambers, a finalist one year ago, claimed his first Wing Open title with the judges' decision.
Three weight divisions went unopposed this year. Junior Matt DeMars, the defending NCBA national champion at 112 pounds, repeated as the Wing Open champion in that weight division, while freshman Andrew Pineda was the uncontested winner in the 119-pound weight class. Senior team captain Cory Tintzman, who had dominated the heavyweight field for two straight years, dropped down to 195 pounds and went unopposed in that weight division. Tintzman's Wing Open title is his third in as many years.
Following the bout, Ball was chosen by the judges and coaching staff as the recipient of the Clune Award, which is handed out each year to the outstanding boxer of the Wing Open Championships. Ball is the seventh 139-pound boxer to be awarded the Clune Award in the 31-year history of the award.
The 2010 version of the Falcons' "Dirty Dozen" will represent the Academy at the upcoming National Collegiate Boxing Association regional and national events. Up next, Air Force will travel to San Francisco, Calif., for the NCBA West Regionals on March 18-20.