Falcons Prepare for Rematch with Oklahoma
STARTING THE SEASON OFF RIGHT: After opening the season at home, the Air Force men's gymnastics team heads out on the road with a trip to perennial-powerhouse and defending national champion, Oklahoma, on Friday, Jan. 20. The Falcons and Sooners, who met just one week ago at the Rocky Mountain Open, will square off at the Howard McCasland Field House at 7:00 p.m.
IT'S LIKE WE JUST MET YESTERDAY: For the second-time in just one week, Air Force and Oklahoma will face off in the gym. The Sooners were at the Academy last weekend for the annual Rocky Mountain Open, where they won the five-team 'NCAA Division' championship with a combined score of 208.850. The Falcons finished fifth in the meet with a season-opening total of 170.050. In addition, Oklahoma's Jonathan Horton won the all-around and floor exercise, while Jamie Henderson won the still rings.
TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, Oklahoma was the preseason favorite, earning five first-place votes in the annual 'GymInfo' preseason coaches' poll. The Sooners, with a score of 208.850, are ranked third in the first regular-season poll of the 2006 season. In addition, fellow Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foes, Stanford and California, are ranked sixth and seventh, while Nebraska is in 13th. Service academy foes, Navy and Army, are ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, while regular-season opponent, Illinois-Chicago, is listed 12th.
BRIAN BOARDMAN ADVANCES TO RMO FINALS: As the lone competitor from the Falcons, sophomore Brian Boardman collected a 7.700 on the floor exercise to finish ninth in the event finals of the Rocky Mountain Open on Jan. 14. Boardman collected scores of 7.700, 7.800, 7.300 and 7.700 from the event's four judges, with the highest and lowest scores dropped.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP IN SIGHT: Backed by Brian Boardman's three team-leading finishes, Air Force opened the competitive season on Jan. 13, at the Academy. Boardman was the team's top finisher on the floor exercise (8.100), pommel horse (6.500) and parallel bars (7.450). Three other members of the sophomore class earned the Falcons' top spot on the remaining events. Christopher Wood, making his collegiate debut after an injury-filled freshman year, claimed a 7.000 on the still rings to earn the team's top finish. Classmate Nathan Glandon posted a team-best 8.400 on the vault, while Tyler Sickles tallied a 7.450 on the high bar.
RECAPPING THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN OPEN: The Falcons finished fifth in their annual meet with a team score of 170.050. Members from the U.S. Olympic Training Center won the 'open division' with a team score of 205.600, while preseason favorite Oklahoma won the 'collegiate division' with a score of 208.850. Nebraska (196.100), Washington (174.850) and Arizona State (171.900) finished second, third and fourth, respectively.
THE CAPTAIN: Senior Brian Moore was selected as the captain of the 2006 squad. This is the second straight season that Moore has represented the team as a captain, as he also served as a co-captain during his junior year. It is just the fifth time in the 50 year history of the Falcons' program that a gymnast has served as captain in back-to-back years. The last two-time captain was Joel Miller during the 1991-92 seasons.
A NEW FACE IN THE CROWD: For the first time in 19 years, the Falcons will have a new face on the sideline. Kip Simons takes over the Air Force program from Lou Burkel, who recently retired after 30 years of coaching at the Academy. Simons, who previously served as the associate head coach at California-Berkeley, brings a solid resume to the Falcons that includes a place on the 1996 Olympic team. Simons will be joined by assistant coach, Lt Col Dennis Ramsey, and volunteer, Dave Mickelson.