Kip Simons named Head Coach of the Year; Josh Loeser and Jeff Robinson named top USAG assistants.
The 32nd-annual meet begins at 6 p.m., on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Cadet West Gym.
The No. 11 ranking matches the best preseason placement ever for the Falcons.
Kip Simons was named the USAG Varsity Head Coach of the Year for the third time.
Olympian and USAG Hall of Fame honoree Kip Simons is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Air Force Academy men's gymnastics team. Since taking over the Falcons' program in 2005, Simons has coached one NCAA All-American (two certificates), one Nissen-Emery finalist, four USAG national championship teams, 11 individual USAG champions (19 titles) and 30 USAG All-Americans (68 certificates), while earning 11 coaching awards.
"Coaching here is a dream job," Simons said. "There is nothing more rewarding than to see my athletes maximize their potential as gymnasts and then go on to become the best pilots in the nation. After eight years, I truly believe when you look at academic, gymnastics and career opportunities, there is not a better option out there than the Air Force Academy."
It took less than two years for Simons' presence at Air Force to be felt on the national stage. Under his coaching, Greg Stine became the program's first gymnast to claim multiple NCAA All-America honors at the same meet, as he placed within the top-eight of the all-around and still rings at the 2008 NCAA Championships. Air Force has also qualified seven gymnasts to the prestigious Winter Cup Challenge since 2007, after sending just three over the prior 20-year span.
The team has also seen a significant bump in their national ranking since his arrival, including a ranking as high as eighth in 2012. Simons has taken a team to the NCAA National Qualifier during each of the last three seasons, while nine gymnasts have advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships. In 2013, the Falcons accounted for their best-ever finish at the National Qualifier, after finishing fifth in their session and 10th overall.
Air Force has won the last four USAG National Championship team titles, marking the only such occurrences in program history. During that span, the Falcons have accounted for 12 individual event titles, highlighted by a program-record four in 2011. In addition, the Falcons have swept Army and Navy at the annual All-Academy Championship meet during each of the last three seasons.
In eight years at the helm of the Air Force program, Simons has accumulated numerous coaching accolades. The recipient of the last four CGA Collegiate Division National Head Coach of the Year awards, he has also been honored as the USAG Varsity Head Coach of the Year on four occasions (2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013). In addition, Simons has earned the NCAA Regional Head Coach of the Year honor twice (2008, 2010) and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year in 2006.
"Here at the Air Force Academy, I apply the same work-ethic that took me to the Olympic Games to mold my cadets into future leaders of character," he said.
Prior to his appointment at the Academy, Simons spent five seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He was an assistant coach with the Bears from 2001-05 and then held the title of associate head coach for the final year of his stay in Berkeley.
During his tenure at Cal, the Bears finished within the top-two at the MPSF Championships every year, winning the conference title in 2004. Simons helped guide Cal to a pair of third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships and coached 19 top-10 finishers, including four national champions.
Simons began his collegiate-level coaching career following a stellar career at both the collegiate and national levels. In 1988, Simons dominated the U.S. Junior National Championships and the Junior Pan-American Games, collecting 10 gold medals.
During a successful college career at Ohio State, Simons earned numerous honors throughout his four years, including the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and the Nissen-Emery Award, which is given to the nation's top senior gymnast.
A native of Bloomsburg, Pa., he was a four-year member of the All-Big 10 team, while earning four Big 10 Conference titles on the parallel bars (1992, 1994), still rings (1992) and high bar (1993). In addition, Simons picked up two NCAA All-America certificates, as the Buckeyes finished third at the national meet during each of his last three seasons. In September 2006, Simons was inducted into the OSU Athletics' Hall of Fame by the Varsity "O" Association.
Following his collegiate career, Simons competed on two world championship teams, as well as the gold-medal winning teams at the 1994 Goodwill Games and the 1995 Pan-American Games. He also represented the United States as a member of the 1996 Olympic team that finished fifth at the Atlanta Games.
"I am able to draw on my 10-year national and international competitive career as the foundation to building my program," Simons continued. "Having the Olympic Training Center in our backyard is a huge asset to this program. Our coaching staff continues to stay up-to-date on the most current training and competitive strategies."
During the summer of 2010, he was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Joining Simons in the 2010 induction class was 1996 Olympic team gold medalist Dominique Moceanu, 1992 Olympic team bronze medalist Wendy Bruce-Martin, 2000 Olympian Jennifer Parilla, two-time U.S. Men's Olympic team head coach Kevin Mazeika and 2000 U.S. Olympic trampoline coach Robert Null.
Simons was married in May 2009 to the former Kim Rich of Columbus, Ohio.