March 25, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The ninth-ranked Air Force men's gymnastics team claimed its second consecutive USAG national title on Friday, March 25, at the 2011 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships in Springfield, Mass. The Falcons collected a combined score of 345.700 to win the meet, highlighted by the highest overall meet scores on five of the six events.
Air Force recorded its second-highest score of the season - and fourth-highest total in Academy history - to win its second straight title. The 345.700 bettered the five-team field that included William and Mary (344.600), Springfield (335.100), Army (334.500) and Navy (332.600). Arizona State won the club team title with a score of 329.800.
One individual title was decided tonight and freshman Colton Wulf placed second in the all-around with combined score of 85.600. Wulf, who's score was just 0.100 off of the event winner,
The Falcons posted the highest event scores of the night on the floor exercise (57.300), still rings (58.300), vault (61.500), parallel bars (57.700) and high bar (56.000). Air Force's 57.700 on the parallel bars is a new Academy record - shattering the previous mark by 0.600.
Contributing to the Falcons' program record on the parallel bars was senior Nash Mills' Academy record score of 15.200. Mills broke his own standard of 14.900 to easily win the preliminary on the parallel bars. All four scoring finishers on that event surpassed the 14.000 mark, including Mills, senior Matt Thorne (14.200) and career-high marks from freshman Mac Ritchie (14.200) and senior Dan Klimkowski (14.100).
The Falcons opened the night on the still rings, where Mills tied for the meet lead with a score of 15.000. Junior Devin Menefee collected the second-highest score of the night, posting a season-best 14.900. Klimkowski also finished within the top 10, tying for eighth with a score of 14.300.
Air Force claimed four of the top eight scores on the vault, including sophomore Tory Brown's runner-up score of 15.800. Freshman Ben Zaiser scored a 15.300 to finish fifth, while Wulf and Mills tied for eighth with matching marks of 15.200. Brown also paced the Falcons on the high bar, finishing fourth with a score of 14.100. Sophomore James Okamoto and Wulf recorded the fifth-highest totals at 14.000, while Mills placed 10th with a 13.900.
Wulf and Brown paced the Falcons on the floor exercise. Wulf was the runner-up with a 14.900, while Brown tied for 10th with a score of 14.200. In the Falcons' final event of the night, the pommel horse, Okamoto posted Air Force's best finish with a 14.000 to tie for sixth.
The Falcons qualified seven gymnasts into tomorrow's event finals, as only the top two gymnasts from each school to finish within the preliminary top 10 of each event advance.
Three Falcons earned qualification to multiple events. Mills advanced to the finals on the still rings and parallel bars, while Wulf qualified on the floor exercise and high bar. Brown qualified on the vault and high bar, while being named an alternate on the floor exercise. In addition, Okamoto qualified on the pommel horse, while Menefee advanced on the still rings. Zaiser qualified to his first vault championship, while Thorne advanced on the parallel bars.
The individual event finals will take place tomorrow (Saturday, March 26) night at Blake Arena on the campus of Springfield College.