March 19, 2009
After a 20-day hiatus from competition, the No. 15 Air Force men's gymnastics team will return to action this weekend, as it travels to Chicago, Ill., for a pair of meets. The Falcons will open the weekend on Friday, March 20, when they compete in a triangular meet with Illinois-Chicago and Nebraska, before wrapping up the regular season in a dual meet with UIC on Sunday, March 22.
Meet Notes 07: at Illinois Chicago
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Nebraska is ranked ninth nationally, while Illinois Chicago is ranked 11th. Both squads have one gymnast ranked in the nation's top five. Nebraska's TJ Schmidt is tied for third on the parallel bars, while Nikolai Korepanov of UIC is ranked fifth on the still rings.
YOU LOOK FAMILIAR
The Falcons have competed against Nebraska already this season, as the two teams were a part of the season-opening Rocky Mountain Open. Nebraska edged the Falcons, 322.400-317.900 to take second in the five-team meet.
SCHONIG NAMED NISSEN-EMERY FINALIST
Jake Schonig was named one of nine finalists for the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award, which is handed out each year to the most outstanding NCAA senior gymnast. He is just the fifth Air Force gymnast to be named a finalist for the "Heisman Trophy of gymnastics", joining Terry Higgins (1966), Joel Miller (1992), Aaron Jackson (2003) and Jeff Andersen (2004).
AIR FORCE GAINS AN EDGE
Jake Schonig is just the 11th gymnast from a military academy to earn a spot as a Nissen-Emery finalist since the award's conception in 1966. With Schonig's selection, Air Force now leads the service academy count with five finalists (Army 4, Navy 2).
DOMINATING IN THE DESERT
Highlighted by three team records, two individual records and 19 personal-best scores, Air Force swept the event titles at the Southwest Cup on Feb. 27. While defeating Arizona State and Washington, Air Force made 21 additions to the program's all-time record book, including 18 top-10 scores.
TEAM RECORDS FALL
In addition to an Academy record total of 342.550, the Falcons set a pair of event marks at the Southwest Cup on Feb. 27. The Falcons upped the program standard on the pommel horse by nearly two points, tallying a score of 55.100. Air Force also improved the team vault record for the third time this season, posting a score of 61.750.
PUMMELING THE POMMEL HORSE
Two Falcons reset the Academy's pommel horse record at ASU. Dan Klimkowski scored a 13.900 early in the rotation to break Jacob Houder's mark of 13.850. But, as the final Falcon in the rotation, Houder reclaimed his spot atop the record book, as he won the event with a record-shattering 14.200.
VAULTING TO NEW HEIGHTS
In just his second collegiate vault, Devin Menefee improved the Academy standard to 15.800. Menefee's score marked the third time this season that the program's vault score has been rewritten, as fellow freshman Joel Uptmor set the record twice earlier in the season.
BUT THEY'RE NOT DONE
In addition to setting Academy records, Jacob Houder posted personal-best marks on the parallel bars and high bar, while Devin Menefee tallied career-high scores on the floor exercise and still rings.
AN ALL-AROUND WINNER
In addition to winning the Southwest Cup all-around with a career-best total of 85.300, Nash Mills claimed a pair of event titles. Mills tied with Jacob Houder for the top spot on the parallel bars with a career-best 14.100, while winning the high bar outright with another total of 14.100 (and the fifth-best score in Academy history). He also finished as the runner-up on the floor exercise and vault.
GETTING EVERYONE IN
Jake Schonig and Aaron Zaiser rounded out the Falcons' sweep of the top spots at Arizona State, as Schonig won the still rings and Zaiser took first on the floor exercise. Schonig, whose season-best score of 15.600 was just .050 shy of his personal best, topped the rest of the field on the still rings by nearly one point.
GOING BY RANK
Air Force's roster boasts a national leader, as Jake Schonig leads the USAG Division on the still rings. The senior holds a three-score average of 15.200, a mark that is ranked sixth in the NCAA national rankings. Schonig has paced the Falcons to the ninth best team average in the national (57.550).
GETTING OUT ON TOP
The Falcons have accounted for 15 top-10 placements in the March 16 national USAG rankings. Sophomore Nash Mills is ranked in four events, including fifth-place rankings on the still rings and all-around. Freshman Jacob Houder is mentioned on three categories, highlighted by a fourth-place placement on the parallel bars. As a team, the Falcons lead the USAG Division on the still rings and vault.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
The Falcons travel to the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships on March 27-28. The two-day event will be held on the campus of The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.