Falcons Head to NCAA Championships

    James Okamoto

    James Okamoto

    April 17, 2013

    The 11th-ranked Air Force men's gymnastics team closes out the current campaign this weekend, as it travels to State College, Pa., for the 2013 NCAA Gymnastics Championships on April 19-21. The Falcons, who are making their third straight appearance at the NCAA competition, will open the weekend in the first national qualifying session on Friday, April 19, at 1 p.m. (EST).

    Meet Notes 13: at NCAA Championships Get Acrobat Reader

    The 2013 NCAA Men's Gymnastics National Championships will be held at the Recreation Building (Rec Hall) on the campus of Penn State University. All-session tickets are $28 for adults and $16 for youth under 12, while single-session tickets ($8/$5 Friday, $12/$8 Saturday and Sunday) will be available each day of competition at least one hour prior to the event. Live scoring and webcasts will be available throughout the weekend at www.gopsusports.com.

    1 p.m.: National Qualifying Session 1
    7 p.m.: National Qualifying Session 2

    7 p.m.: Team and All-Around Finals

    2 p.m.: Individual Event Finals

    The first session of the NCAA Qualifier will feature No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 7 Illinois, No. 10 Nebraska and No. 11 Air Force, while the evening sessions includes No. 1 Penn State, No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 California and No. 13 Temple. In addition, both sessions will include individual event specialists from Army, Navy, Illinois-Chicago, Springfield and William & Mary.

    The national qualifier, which consists of two six-team sessions, will be held on Friday, April 19. The top three teams, top three all-around competitors not on an advancing team and the top three individuals on each event that are not on an advancing team or qualified as an advancing all-around competitor, will move on to the national championship meet, which will take place on April 20 (team finals) and April 21 (event finals).

    HISTORY 101
    Air Force is making its third straight appearance to the NCAA National Championships. Prior to the 2011 season, the Falcons hadn't sent a full squad to any level of the national meet since 1998, when it qualified for the NCAA West Regional (the current national qualifier replaced the regional meets in 2000). Air Force has made nine appearances in the team finals of the NCAA Championships (1961-62-63-64-70-72-73), with its best finish (sixth) coming at the 1972 national meet.

    HISTORY 201
    Eight Falcons have claimed All-America status at the NCAA Championships, including Greg Stine, who became the first Air Force gymnast to claim multiple certificates in a single meet (still rings, all-around) at the 2008 championships. Jim Weaver (1962 trampoline), Doug Reynolds (1964 tumbling), Terry Higgins (1966 parallel bars), Bill Ritter (1972 floor exercise), John Tomich (1973 vault), Joel Miller (1992 still rings) and Tim Hess (1993 floor exercise) have also earned All-America honors for the Falcons.

    James Okamoto, who competed as an event specialist on the pommel horse as a freshman and with the team during each of the past two seasons, will become just the second Air Force gymnast in recent history to make four straight appearances at the national championship meet. He joins 2012 graduate Devin Menefee, who competed as an event specialist as a freshman and sophomore, before Air Force earned team berths during his junior and senior years.

    The Falcons are currently ranked 11th in the GymInfo National Rankings, holding a National Qualifying Average of 422.687. As a team, Air Force is ranked among the nation's top 10 in four of the six events, including the still rings (sixth, tie), vault (eighth), parallel bars (10th) and high bar (10th). Individually, Nick Gauldip is tied for ninth on the high bar, while Tory Brown (16th, floor exercise; 17th, vault), Gared Chapman (15th tie, still rings; 19th tie, vault) and Tyler Huebner (20th, still rings) are listed among the top 20 of the national rankings.

    Air Force scored a 416.400 to finish fourth in the team standings at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships on April 6, while Gared Chapman led the Falcons' individual finishes with a third-place tie on the still rings. Nick Gaudlip (fourth, floor exercise), Tory Brown (sixth, floor exercise; sixth, parallel bars) and Jon Spiro (sixth, still rings) also earned a trip to the awards podium based on their top-six finishes at the conference meet.



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