Mills, Brown and Okamoto Earn Individual USAG National Titles
March 26, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - One night after successfully defending their national team title, three members of the ninth-ranked Air Force men's gymnastics team combined for four individual titles during the final night of competition at the 2011 USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships on Saturday, March 26, in Springfield, Mass.
Senior Nash Mills repeated as the USAG parallel bars champion, while also claiming his first national title on the still rings. Sophomore James Okamoto won the pommel horse, while classmate Tory Brown won the vault title.
Mills scored his third-highest score of the season at 14.600 to defend his championship on the parallel bars. With the win, Mills becomes just the fourth Air Force gymnast to claim back-to-back titles on the same event, joining Levi Torkelson (parallel bars, 1999-00), Greg Stine (all-around, 2007-08) and Jake Schonig (still rings, 2008-09). The senior also claimed his first title on the still rings, scoring a career-best matching total of 15.300 to defeat the field by 0.050. Mills' win on that event marks the fourth time in five years that a Falcon has claimed the USAG title on the rings, joining Stine (2007) and Schonig (2008, 2009).
Okamoto became the Falcons' second-ever USAG champion on the pommel horse after claiming the event title with a score of 14.250, while Brown became the second Air Force gymnast to claim the national title on the vault in as many years, after scoring a 15.700 to win that event.
Seven Falcons claimed USAG All-America status, based on his top-six finishes in the event finals.
Brown and freshman Colton Wulf paced the Falcons with three USAG All-America honors each. In addition to winning the vault, Brown also placed fourth on the floor exercise (14.300) and high bar (14.200), while Wulf, who finished second in the all-around last night, was the runner-up on the high bar (14.300) and finished third on the floor exercise (14.600).
Mills added two USAG All-America awards with his national titles to bring his career total to seven, while freshman Ben Zaiser and senior Matt Thorne each claimed their first such award. Zaiser scored a 15.500 - a mark just 0.100 off of his career high - to place fifth on the vault, while Thorne scored a 13.900 to finish sixth on the parallel bars.
Junior Devin Menefee also competed in the event finals this evening, placing eighth on the still rings with a score of 12.450.
Air Force returns to action on Saturday, April 2, when they host the 2011 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships at the Academy's Cadet West Gym. The meet, which features five of the top 11 teams in the nation, is slated to begin at 5 p.m.