March 19, 2014
The 10th-ranked Air Force men's gymnastics team begins its championship season this weekend, when it travels to Annapolis, Md., for the 2014 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships. The Falcons, who have won the last four USAG team titles, begin their quest for a fifth championship title at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Friday, March 21.
The 2014 USAG Collegiate National Championships will take place over the March 21-22 weekend at Macdonough Hall on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy. The meet will feature varsity teams from Air Force, Army, Navy, Springfield and William & Mary, as well as club teams from Arizona State, Brockport and Washington. The team and all-around finals will begin at 4:00 p.m., on Friday (March 21), while the individual event finals will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday (March 22).
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
With a four-score average of 422.683, William & March currently holds the highest ranking (12th) among the quartet of teams that Air Force will be facing this weekend in the varsity field at the USAG Championships. Service academy rivals Army and Navy are ranked 13th (421.117) and 14th (414.633), respectively, while Springfield rounds out the group with a No. 17 ranking and an average of 403.717. Ranked 15th with a four-score mark of 404.383, Arizona State leads the trio of club teams that will be competing in at the national meet. Individually, William & Mary's Landon Funiciello is ranked second in the nation on the still rings, while Army's Jesse Glenn is ranked fourth on the high bar.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
Air Force has won the last four USAG national titles, accounting for 12 individual titles and 41 USAG All-America awards during that span. Since they began competing at the USAG meet in 1994, the Falcons have accounted for 28 national champions and 145 USAG All-America distinctions. Five members of the current squad - Nick Gaudlip (2013 high bar), Nick Owen (2013 pommel horse), Josh Ramos (2012 parallel bars), Mac Ritchie (2012 high bar) and Ben Zaiser (2012 vault) - have captured individual USAG national titles, while 10 current gymnasts have combined for 17 USAG All-America awards.
LOOKING BACK AT THE 2013 USAG CHAMPIONSHIPS
Backed by a score of 420.850, Air Force successfully defended its USAG national team title during the 2013 championship on March 29 in Williamsburg, Va. The Falcons defeated host William & Mary (419.100), Navy (404.600) and Springfield (401.850) to capture their fourth straight title. Individually, Nick Owen and Nick Gaudlip claimed USAG national titles, as they finished first on the pommel horse and high bar, respectively.
A QUICK CHECK OF THE RANKINGS
Highlighted by a No. 6 ranking on the pommel horse, Air Force is ranked among the nation's top 10 in four of six events. The Falcons, who hold a four-score average of 71.017 on that event, are ranked ninth on the floor exercise (72.750), still rings (72.633) and high bar (71.367), while holding a mark just outside of the top 10 (11th) on the remaining two events. Individually, Tim Wang is ranked fifth in the all-around (86.450) and 11th on the pommel horse (14.850), while Tyler Huebner is ranked 13th on the still rings (15.217).
RITCHIE BREAKS OWN HIGH BAR RECORD
Recording a winning score of 15.350, Mac Ritchie shattered his own Academy record on the high bar during the Falcons' regular-season finale on March 15. Adding 0.250 to the program standard he first set last year, Ritchie bettered 24 other gymnasts at Nebraska's five-team meet.
HIGH BAR COLLECTS SECOND-HIGHEST TEAM SCORE
Backed by Mac Ritchie's winning, Academy-record score of 15.350, the Falcons accounted for three top-10 finishes and the second-highest event score in program history (72.550). Josh Ramos scored a career-high 14.750 to finish seventh, while Tim Wang added a ninth-place score of 14.700.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
Air Force will travel to Norman, Okla., next weekend for the 2014 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships on Saturday, March 29. The meet, which marks the first time in four years that Air Force hasn't hosted the conference championships, will feature top-ranked Oklahoma, second-ranked Stanford, ninth-ranked California and 10th-ranked Air Force.