March 27, 2014
The 10th-ranked Air Force men's gymnastics returns travels to Norman, Okla., this Saturday (March 29) for the 2014 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. The conference meet, which features four of the nation's top 10 programs, will be held at 4 p.m. (CT) inside Oklahoma's McCasland Field House.
The 2014 MPSF Championships, which features top-ranked Oklahoma, third-ranked Stanford, ninth-ranked California and 10th-ranked Air Force, will be hosted by Oklahoma for the fourth time in conference history. General admission tickets for McCasland Field House are $8 for adults and $5 for youth (aged 3-18) and seniors (aged 55+). The meet will also be broadcast live on Fox Sports Southwest+, Fox College Sports Central and SoonerSports.tv.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Oklahoma, which has claimed the last two conference titles (and 11 of the last 14) held the nation's No. 1 ranking all 10 weeks, holding a four-score average of 443.917. Stanford, the conference champions in 2009 and 2011, is currently ranked third with an average of 442.017, while California, the 2004 MPSF champion, is ranked ninth with an average of 428.667 - a four-score mark that is just 0.017 ahead of the Falcons' average of 428.650. Oklahoma's Michael Squires currently leads the nation on the still rings with an average of 15.983, while Stanford's Akash Modi holds the nation's best all-around average at 88.867.
A QUICK CHECK OF THE RANKINGS
Highlighted by a No. 5 ranking on the high bar (71.867) and a No. 6 mark on the pommel horse (71.650), Ari Force is ranked among the nation's top 10 in four of the six events. The Falcons, ranked 10th overall with a four-score average of 428.650, are listed ninth on both the floor exercise (72.750) and still rings (73.000), while holding No. 11 rankings in the remaining two events. Individually, Tim Wang, ranked sixth in the all-around (), is one of two Falcons to be ranked among the nation's top 15 on the pommel horse. Wang is ranked sixth with a four-score average of 14.992, while Nick Owen is ranked 15th with a 14.783. While Nick Gaudlip is ranked 20th on the high bar with an average of 14.617, Air Force holds a pair of top 15 rankings on the still rings, with Tyler Huebner and Gared Chapman ranked 13th (15.217) and 15th (15.075), respectively.
AURELIUS EARNS WEEKLY AWARDS
Denis Aurelius was named the Air Force Athlete of the Week (March 24) and the MPSF Gymnast of the Week (March 25) after claiming an individual title and helping the Falcons to the team title at the USAG Championships on March 21-22. The first Falcon to hit the 15-point mark on the floor exercise, he scored a career-high 15.000 during the team finals, and followed that up with a 15.225 to win the individual title - bettering the field by nearly a half-point to become Air Force's first floor exercise champion in seven years. In addition to recording the third-highest floor score in Academy history, Aurelius also claimed USAG All-America honors on the still rings after finishing sixth (14.550) in the individual event finals.
SEVEN FALCONS CLAIM USAG ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Seven gymnasts combined for 10 USAG All-America honors at the national championship meet on March 21-22. Denis Aurelius (floor exercise), Nick Gaudlip (parallel bars, high bar) and Tim Wang (pommel horse, all-around) each earned two USAG All-America citations, while Gared Chapman (still rings), Nick Owen (pommel horse), Josh Ramos (parallel bars) and Ben Zaiser (vault) all claimed one following top-six finishes in their respective events.
BACK FOR MORE
Nick Owen and Nick Gaudlip repeated as USAG champions on the pommel horse and high bar, respectively, while Josh Ramos captured his second USAG parallel bars title in three years during the individual event finals on March 22. Owen recorded the third-highest score in program history (14.950) to win his second straight title, while Gaudlip matched his career-high (and the third-best in Academy history) of 15.050 to repeat as champion. Ramos, who missed last season's meet with injury, reclaimed his national title with a winning score of 14.250.
With their second career USAG national titles, Nick Gaudlip, Nick Owen and Josh Ramos equaled the number of Falcons that had claimed multiple titles during the previous 20 years (Nash Mills, 2010-11 parallel bars; Jake Schonig, 2008-09 still rings; Levi Torkelson, 1999-2000 parallel bars).
While Denis Aurelius claimed the Academy's first USAG title on the floor since 2007, Nick Gaudlip's victory on the high bar marked the third straight year that an Air Force gymnast has claimed the USAG title on that event (Gaudlip, 2013; Mac Ritchie, 2012). In addition, Josh Ramos' title on the parallel bars was the program's fourth in five years (Nash Mills, 2010-11; Ramos, 2012) and Nick Owen captured the Falcons' third pommel horse title in four years (James Okamoto, 2011; Owen, 2013).
AIR FORCE CAPTURES FIFTH STRAIGHT USAG TEAM TITLE
With a score of 426.700, Air Force out-pointed the competition by nearly four points to claim their fifth straight USAG Varsity Team title ... and the fifth such title in program history. The Falcons posted the meet's top scores on the parallel bars (Josh Ramos) and high bar (Nick Gaudlip) during the team finals, while Tim Wang and Nick Owen picked up a one-two placement on the pommel horse.
THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR
The weekly release for last year's MPSF Championships included three consecutive notes that included that involved Nick Gaudlip and Nick Owen winning individual national titles, the Falcons capturing another team title and Mac Ritchie breaking the program's high bar record. Thanks to the performances of Gaudlip and Owen at the USAG Championships and Ritchie improving his own high bar mark at the regular-season finale in Nebraska, the same three notes can be found in this year's release.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
Air Force will be off from competition until April 10-12, when it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2014 NCAA Men's Gymnastics National Championships. The three-day meet begins with the National Qualifier on Thursday, April 10, at Crisler Center on the campus of the University of Michigan.