Falcons Shine in Hard-Hitting Wing Open Championships
March 8, 2009
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - The 2009 Wing Open Championships certainly lived up to its billing. With several outcomes being decided in dominating fashion and others going bell-to-bell, the Air Force boxing team concluded a stellar afternoon of competition at the 51st-annual event on Sunday, March 8, at the Academy's Clune Arena. Seven Falcons earned repeat titles, including a pair of three-time champs.
After unopposed sophomore Matthew DeMars earned the 112-pound title, the 2009 Wing Open officially got underway with the 119-pound bout. Senior Jesse Horton came out strong in the first bout of the afternoon, defeating freshman Rainer Caparas early in the second round. It is the second Wing Open title for Horton, who missed the fall training period as an exchange student in Japan.
Fellow senior Harvey White lived up to his nickname of "The Hitman", as he dispatched freshman Nicholas Watts in the second round of the 125-pound finals. White picked up his third Wing Open championship in as many years, as he improved to 4-0 this year against his fellow cadets.
In a meeting of Wing Open champions, the 132-pound bout went into the final bell, with seniors Dave Simon and Dean Chuva in the ring. Simon was the defending champion in that weight class, while Chuva had won the 2008 Wing Open, regional and national titles at 112 pounds. Each boxer held an advantage at different times throughout the three two-minute rounds and this bout became the first to go to the judges for decision. The judging appeared as even as the bout, with Chuva being awarded the title by split decision.
Daniel Starr became the first freshman to earn a 2009 Wing Open title, as he claimed a split decision victory over junior Seth Gunn in the 139-pound bout. The boxers traded shots during the round, with both connecting on scoring punches in the process.
In the showcase of 147-pound boxers, senior Nathan Liptak and sophomore Michael Dunn stepped into the ring for the only rematch on the card. Liptak, who had competed in just two bouts this season, successfully defended his Wing Open title in a split decision over Dunn.
The 156-pound weight class featured a pair of first-time finalists in senior Rudy Bowen and freshman Tyrus Korecki. Bowen took the control of the ring early in the bout and refused to relinquish his advantage. By unanimous decision, Bowen claimed his first Wing Open title.
In another contest featuring two first-time finalists, freshman Nick Cataldo and senior Austin Almand brought the entire crowd to its feet at the final bell of the 165-pound bout. The two boxers traded punches throughout the six-minute bout, as Cataldo and Almand vied to gain the upper hand. In the end, the decision came down to the judges, as Almand earned a hotly-contested split decision victory over the crowd-favorite freshman.
The youngest class of Falcons earned another victory when freshman Mike McLain upset defending Wing Open champion and senior Lucas Gagliardi in the 175-pound bout. Despite his youth, McLain was able to stop Gagliardi's attack and respond with several sharp counterpunches to claim his first-ever title and improve to 5-0 against his fellow cadets.
Senior Boyce Loomis picked up his third consecutive Wing Open championship at 185 pounds, when his spot-on punches caused the referee to stop his bout with freshman Logan Brandt less than one minute in. Loomis dominated the round from his first step out of the corner, connecting with Brandt and causing the referee to administer three standing eight counts before a minute had passed. It is the second straight year that Loomis has earned a Wing Open title before the first bell.
Senior Andrew Catoire concluded his Wing Open boxing career the way he started ... with a title at 195 pounds. He held off classmate Kevin Williams in a spirited bout. Despite having only joined the program in January, Williams was evenly matched with the Catoire, a four-year member of the program, during the opening minutes of the bout. As the third round progressed, Catoire's experience became the more evident, as he delivered several key scoring blows. At the final bell, the majority of the judges' awarded Catoire the title, which will accompany his 2006 title.
In the night's final bout, junior Cory Tintzman, the defending champion, stepped into the ring with sophomore Mike Chambers for the heavyweight showdown. Always a crowd favorite, the two boxers came out swinging, but Tintzman quickly earned the advantage with several hard punches. With just seconds left in the first round, Tintzman delivered the final blow that caused the third standing eight count of the round. It is the second victory in as many years for Tintzman.
In an unprecedented outcome, the judges and coaching staff awarded Cataldo the Clune Outstanding Boxer Award. It is the first time in the 30-year history of the award that it was not awarded to a Wing Open champion.
The winners from tonight's Wing Open will form the nucleus of the team that will represent the Academy at the 2009 National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) regional and national meets. Since head coach Eddie Weichers' arrival at the Academy 33 years ago, Air Force has won 28 of 29 regional titles and 18 of 29 national titles.
RESULTS FROM WING OPEN FINALS
Outstanding Boxer: Nick Cataldo