March 22, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Four members of the Air Force men's gymnastics team claimed individual USAG national titles this afternoon (March 22), as the 10th-ranked Falcons wrapped up a successful weekend of competition at the 2014 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships in Annapolis.
Senior Nick Owen and junior Nick Gaudlip repeated as USAG national champions on the pommel horse and high bar, respectively, while junior Josh Ramos claimed his second parallel bars title in three years and freshman Denis Aurelius earned his first USAG title on the floor exercise.
Owen recorded a career-best 14.950 to claim his second consecutive title on the pommel horse and move into third on the program's list. With the win, Owen paced Air Force to a one-two finish on that event, as freshman Tim Wang placed second with a 14.925. With a score of 15.050, Gaudlip matched his career high (and the third-best score in program history) to win his second USAG title on the high bar. Gaudlip's victory marked the third straight individual high bar title by an Air Force gymnast.
Ramos, the 2012 USAG champion on the parallel bars who missed last season's meet with injury, returned to the top of the medal podium in 2014 after scoring a 14.250. Aurelius became the program's first floor exercise champion since 2007 after scoring a 15.225 to better the field by nearly a half point. The sophomore, who first broke the 15-point mark during the team finals last night, moved into third on the program's all-time list.
In addition to claiming a national title, Gaudlip and Aurelius both earned a second USAG All-America award after placing within the top-six of a second event. Gaudlip finished fourth on the parallel bars (13.975), while Aurelius claimed sixth on the still rings (14.550). Junior Gared Chapman claimed third-place honors on the still rings (15.075), while senior Ben Zaiser claimed USAG All-America honors on the vault for the third time in four years by placing sixth with a 14.225.
All seven Falcons that advanced to the individual event finals earned USAG All-America status by placing within the top-six of at least one event. In addition, the second career championships claimed by Gaudlip, Ramos and Owen equal the total number of Falcons that had claimed multiple USAG titles in the previous 20 years (Nash Mills - 2010-11 parallel bars; Jake Schonig - 2008-09 still rings; Levi Torkelson - 1999-2000 parallel bars).
The Falcons return to action next Saturday (March 29), when the travel to Norman, Okla., for the 2014 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The conference meet, which includes Air Force, California, Oklahoma and Stanford, is slated to begin at 4:00 p.m. (CT).