March 31, 2012
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - One night after winning their third straight national team title, three members of the 12th-ranked Air Force men's gymnastics team won individual titles during the final night of competition at the 2012 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships on Saturday, March 31, at the Academy's Cadet West Gym.
Sophomore Mac Ritchie matched the Academy high bar record to easily win his first title on that event, while classmate Ben Zaiser and freshman Josh Ramos won their first USAG titles on the vault and parallel bars, respectively.
Ritchie, who defeated the field by 0.450 during last night's preliminary round, scored a 14.900 to match the Academy standard and defeat the eight-man field by 0.650. With the victory, Ritchie became the program's first USAG champion on the high bar since Erin Montague in 1999.
With his second highest score of the season (14.600), Zaiser claimed the USAG title on the vault, marking the third straight year that an Air Force gymnast has claimed the title on that event. Air Force claimed the top USAG gymnast on the parallel bars for the fourth time in five years, as Ramos used a 14.150 to win the title.
Ramos and Ritchie paced the Falcons to a sweep of the top two places on their respective events. Freshman Corbin Palmer placed second on the parallel bars with a score of 14.100, while junior James Okamoto took second on the high bar with a career-best score of 14.250.
In addition to their respective runner-up finishes, Palmer finished second on the floor exercise with a mark of 14.150 and Okamoto took second on the pommel horse with a score of 13.400.
A program-best nine Falcons claimed USAG All-America status, based on their top-six finishes in the event finals this evening.
Palmer (floor exercise, parallel bars) and Okamoto (pommel horse, high bar) paced Air Force with two accolades each, while freshman Nick Gaudlip (floor exercise, 13.600, sixth), classmate Greg Chaput (pommel horse, 12.650, sixth), Chapman (still rings), Menefee (still rings), Zaiser (vault), Ramos (parallel bars) and Ritchie (high bar) each claimed one.
Air Force returns to action on Saturday, April 7, when it hosts the 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships at the Academy's Cadet West Gym. The meet, which features five of the four of the top 12 teams in the nation, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.