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.
Photos from the Falcons' annual Rocky Mountain Open.
Action photos from the Falcons' meet with Washington on March 20.
Action from the Falcons' dual meet with service academy rival Army on Jan. 22, 2011.
USAG Event Finals (Photos by Bill Evans)
Olympian and USAG Hall of Fame honoree Kip Simons enters his eighth 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, three USAG national championship teams, nine individual USAG champions (12 titles) and 28 USAG All-Americans (57 certificates), while earning seven 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 seven 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 numerous gymnasts to the prestigious Winter Cup Challenge, after sending just three over a prior 20-year span.
The team has also seen a significant bump in their national ranking, placing as high as eighth in recent years. Simons has taken the team to the NCAA National Qualifier during each of the past two seasons, while advancing seven gymnasts to the NCAA semifinals. In addition, the men have captured three consecutive USAG National Championship team titles and have won the All-Academy Championship team title in back-to-back years.
The Falcons have claimed at least half of the USAG individual event titles during each of the last three national meets, as well as the last three titles in the vault and parallel bars. In 2010, Nash Mills (parallel bars, all-around) and Devin Menefee (vault) combined for three individual titles, while Mills (still rings, parallel bars), Tory Brown (vault) and James Okamoto (pommel horse) set a program record with four USAG titles. Last season, Ben Zaiser (vault), Josh Ramos (parallel bars) and Mac Ritchie (high bar) swept the final three event titles at the USAG meet.
In seven years at the helm of the Air Force program, Simons has accumulated several coaching accolades. In 2006, he was voted as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year. Following the 2008 season, he was selected as the USAG Coach of the Year and the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year. The 2010 season was a banner year for Simons, who was named the USAG Varsity Head Coach of the Year, the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year and the CGA/Collegiate Division National Coach of the Year. Simons claimed his third USAG Coach of the Year award in 2012.
"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 with the Cal Bears. He was an assistant coach 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.