Air Force Lineup Set for 2010 Wing Open Championships
March 2, 2010
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - After weeks intense, hard-hitting, preliminary action, the Air Force boxing team is ready to compete at the 2009 Wing Open Championships on Thursday, March 4. Highlighted by nine bouts, the contenders will finally head under the lights of Clune Arena for the chance to earn their spot in Academy history. Action begins at 7 p.m., and admission is free.
The Air Force Wing Open Boxing Championships began in 1958 with just four bouts. Now, 52 years later, the championship bout is one of the most anticipated events on the Academy calendar.
This year's line-up features four past champions, as well as five previous finalists.
Three weight divisions will go uncontested this year. Junior Matthew DeMars, the defending national champion, will repeat as the Wing Open champion at 112 pounds, while freshman Andrew Pineda will earn his first title in the 119-pound weight class. Going unchallenged in the 195-pound weight class, senior team captain Cory Tintzman, a two-time NCBA All-American, will earn his third Wing Open title.
The winners of the Wing Open will form the nucleus of the Air Force team that will represent the Academy at the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) regional and national competitions. The Falcons have won 18 of 30 national titles and produced 102 national champions.
Let's take a look at this year's contenders by weight class...
125 POUNDS: Senior Sam Sheppard, fresh off of a 7-7 record as a member of the Air Force wrestling team, will be stepping into the ring for the first time this season. He will face sophomore Vicente Vasquez, who is also making his boxing debut at the finals.
132-POUNDS: While last year's bout featured two past champions, this year's contest introduces a pair of first-time finalists. Junior Michael Mizes, a two-time semifinalist, enters the main ring with a perfect 6-0 record. He will face freshman William Petersen, who has competed in just two bouts this season, including a loss to Mizes in the Jan. 22 round of Friday Night Fights.
139-POUNDS: This bout features an experienced finalist in each corner. Sophomore Daniel Starr, last year's Wing Open champion at 139 pounds, returns to the ring looking for his second straight title. Starr, who is currently 2-1 on the year, will toe the line with senior Bailey Ball, a 2008 Wing Open finalist. Ball is currently 5-1 on the year.
147-POUNDS: Junior Michael Dunn returns to the Clune Arena ring for the third straight year. A two-time Wing Open finalist, Dunn is 4-2 on the year. After having faced the same opponent in the finals for the last two years, he will face freshman Ben Fox this year. Fox, who has compiled an impressive 5-2 record in his first season with the Falcons, is tied for the team lead in knockouts with two.
156-POUNDS: Sophomore Tyrus Korecki, a 2009 Wing Open finalist, will step under the lights for the second time in as many years. Korecki, holding a 4-3 record on the season, will face off with junior Joe Silvio, a two-time semifinalist at 156 pounds. Silvio, who is 7-2 on the year, has defeated Korecki in two earlier bouts during Friday Night Fights.
165-POUNDS: Sophomore Nick Cataldo returns to the championship stage for the second straight year, looking for redemption after a narrow loss during last year's finals. Cataldo, who is 4-4 on the season, will face off with junior Dalton Hall, who holds a 6-1 record on the year.
175-POUNDS: Sophomore Mike McLain, the 2009 Wing Open champion, looks to defend his title. McLain, entering the finals with a 3-1 record, will face classmate Spencer Baucke, who is 2-4 on the year. It will be the second time this season that the two sophomores have squared off, as McLain took a decision from Baucke in the final round of Friday Night Fights in January.
185-POUNDS: Two first-time finalists highlight this bout. Junior Reggie Howard will take on classmate Will Keuchler. Howard has competed in just one bout this season, falling to Keuchler during the Dec. 4 round of Friday Night Fights. Keuchler, who is 3-1 on the year, has recorded to knockdowns during his first season of collegiate boxing.
HEAVYWEIGHT: Junior Mike Chambers, the finalist in the heavyweight division last season, returns to the ring to face off with senior Richard Meldrum. With one knockout apiece, Chambers is 3-3 on the year, while Meldrum is a perfect 4-0 during his first year collegiate boxing. The Wing Open finals will mark the first time this season that the two "Big Boys" have stepped into the same ring.