Air Force Gears Up for 50th Wing Open Championship
Feb. 28, 2008
The Air Force Wing Open Boxing Championships began in 1958 with just four bouts. Now, 50 years later, the championship bout is one of the most anticipated events on the Academy calendar.
The line-up features five past champions, as well as five previous finalists. The championship round features an impressive total of three freshmen, as well as the first pair of brothers (Michael Dunn-147; James Dunn-156) in head coach Eddie Weichers' 32-year tenure with the program.
The winners of the Wing Open will form the base of the Air Force boxing team that will represent the Academy at the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) regional and national competitions. The Falcons have won 18 of 28 national titles and produced 98 national champions.
Let's take a look at this year's contenders by weight class...
112-POUNDS: Junior Dean Chuva, a two-time Wing Open finalist, will face freshman Matt DeMars. A runner-up to NCBA champion Willie Lloyd as a freshman and sophomore, Chuva holds a 2-0 advantage over DeMars during the 2007-08 Friday Night Fights season.
132-POUNDS: This is the only rematch on the card, as junior David Simon and sophomore Alexander Shin step into the ring for the second straight year. Shin (2-1) defeated Simon (3-3) last year in a hard-fought decision, but the duo hasn't faced one another this year.
139-POUNDS: Senior Brian Navin looks to close out his Wing Open career the way he began it - with a Wing Open title. Navin, who won the 132-pound championship as a freshman, will have to get past sophomore newcomer Bailey Ball. In his first season with the Falcons, Ball has compiled a 4-1 record against his fellow cadets; his only loss coming to Navin (2-0) in January.
147-POUNDS: Two newcomers highlight this bout, as junior Nathan Liptak will face freshman Michael Dunn. Liptak swept through the Friday Night Fights season, boasting a 5-0 record against his fellow cadets. Dunn (2-3) looks to even up his season ledger and his record against Liptak, who defeated Dunn in November.
156-POUNDS: Seniors Ryan Price and Daryn Nelson had the longest road to the finals, as the preliminary bouts for this weight class began three weeks ago. Price is a two-time Wing Open finalist at 147 pounds, while Nelson is a first-time finalist. One of the busiest boxers on the 72-man roster, Nelson holds a 7-1 record against his fellow cadets, but has not faced Price (5-2) this season.
165-POUNDS: This will be the second straight contest featuring senior classmates. Clifford Moore moved up a weight class this year after winning back-to-back championships in the 156-pound weight class. He will face James Dunn, last year's runner-up at 165 pounds. This will be the second time this year that the duo has faced one another, with
175-POUNDS: Two newcomers to the final round of Wing Open action highlight this bout. Senior Jacob Lambach and junior Lucas Gagliardi (1-0) are both making their first appearance in the big ring. Lambach, who is a perfect 4-0 on the season, defeated a two-time Wing Open finalist and a former Wing Open champion to advance to the final round.
185-POUNDS: Junior Boyce Loomis looks to defend his Wing Open title against freshman Matt Tasin. Loomis is 2-0 against other Academy boxers, while Tasin split the season at 1-1. The duo hasn't faced one another yet this year.
195-POUNDS: Senior Chris Johnson and junior Richard Kenny are two more first-time finalists. Kenny is 3-0 against his fellow cadets, while Johnson holds a 3-1 mark. Like the previous bout, this duo has not faced each other this year.
HEAVYWEIGHT: After a one-year absence from the schedule, the heavyweight contest returns to center ring, as junior Joshua Henderson-Casteel and sophomore Cory Tintzman close out the afternoon. It will be the first appearance in the finals for both contenders. Tintzman boasts a 6-1 record on the year, while Henderson-Casteel is 1-0.