COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 11th-ranked Air Force men’s gymnastics team returned to action this afternoon (March 3) with a third-place finish at the Arnold Challenge in Columbus, Ohio. In the first meet of the season to use the “five-up, five-count” scoring system, the Falcons registered a total of 390.250 to finish behind fifth-ranked Nebraska (404.000) and fourth-ranked host Ohio State (401.600).
Senior Fletcher Braunton and freshman Frankie Valentin paced the Falcons with top-three scores on the still rings, as Braunton scored a 13.800 to take second and Valentin registered a 13.500 to finish third. Braunton added a top-five finish on the pommel horse, as he tied for fourth with a score of 14.150.
The Falcons also earned a pair of top-five marks from junior Eric Klein, as he placed fourth on the vault (14.250) and tied with classmate Lukas Texeira for that same placement on the high bar (13.700). Junior Casey Branin and freshman Zach Polen tied for third (13.600) and fifth (13.450), respectively, on the parallel bars, while junior Christian Kalustian finished ninth on the floor exercise (12.600) to round out the Falcons’ list of event leaders.
The Falcons return to action next Friday (March 10), when they travel to Champaign, Ill., to face Illinois and Illinois-Chicago in the first of two triangular meets over the weekend. Air Force will also visit Iowa City, Iowa, on that road swing, as they face Iowa and Minnesota on Sunday, March 12.