2005 Men's Gymnastics Preview
A young team will take to the floor for the Air Force men's gymnastics team in 2005. The Falcons will appear to be a brand new team, as they feature 11 freshmen and sophomores, compared to just four juniors and seniors.
It is the youth and the excitement that they bring to the program that has the coaching staff of Lou Burkel and Lt Col Ivan Merritt looking to a promising future.
THE VOID: The team will have to fill the gap in the rotation left by the graduation of Jeff Andersen, who was just the third Falcon in program to history to be named a finalist for the Nissen Emery Award, which is handed out annually to the nation's top senior gymnast. Air Force will also be without USA Gymnastics pommel horse and all-around champion, Greg Stine, who is taking two years off for a mission. The duo, who took part in the NCAA Championships, while earning numerous USAG All-America accolades, will be sorely missed in the Falcons' rotation.
THE HOPE: Looking to help fill the gap in 2005 will be senior Kent Reichle (Cambridge, Minn.), who earned USAG All-America honors on the floor exercise last season. Fellow senior Randy Doyle (Lawrenceville, Ga.), along with juniors Brian Moore (Cypress, Texas) and Eric Peele (Bethel, N.C.), will be looked upon to set the tone of the team.
Reichle and Moore will serve as the program's captains, bringing veteran leadership and knowledge to the young squad.
THE RETURNERS: Two of the five sophomores also saw competition last year - a distinction that will provide them with experience over their younger counterparts. The team's Newcomer of the Year award recipient, Ryan Stromstad (Corona, Calif.), performed well in his inaugural season, as did sophomore classmate Kurt Antonio (Rio Rancho, N.M.).
The Class of 2007 will also be bolstered by California native Edwin Berry (El Cajon), as well as Josh Loeser (Alvin, Texas), who each have a year of Academy-life under their belts and also plan on making an impact this season.
THE NEWCOMERS: Six freshmen join the Air Force gymnastics team in the form of Brian Boardman (Naperville, Ill.), Nathan Glandon (Abilene, Texas), Kevin Murphy (The Woodlands, Texas), Jon Roberts (Victorville, Calif.), Tyler Sickles (Mesa, Ariz.) and Chris Wood (Norco, Texas).
THE SCHEDULE: Air Force opens the season with the annual Rocky Mountain Open on Jan. 14-15. Friday's competition will feature the team and all-around finals, while the top competitors from each apparatus will participate in the event finals on Saturday.
The Falcons will take to the road for the next three weekends, starting with a trip to Stanford, Calif., for the Cardinal Invitational on Jan. 22. Following a dual-meet at Oklahoma on Jan. 28, Air Force will travel to Annapolis, Md., for the annual triad with Army and Navy.
Air Force returns home on Saturday, Feb. 19, when they host Stanford at 1 p.m. The Black Knights of Army come to the Academy for a pair of meets the following Friday (Feb. 25) and Sunday (Feb. 27) to close out the Falcons' home slate.
Following two multi-team competitions - the Peter Vidmar Invite in Los Angeles (Mar. 3) and Southwest Cup in Tempe, Ariz., (Mar. 6), the Falcons will travel to Lincoln, Neb., for a dual meet with the Cornhuskers on Mar. 13.
Air Force wraps up the regular season in Chicago, when it faces Illinois-Chicago for a pair of competitions. The teams will compete on Friday (Mar. 18) and Sunday (Mar. 20).
The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships will be held in Norman, Okla., on Mar. 25-26, while the NCAA Championships will be held at West Point, N.Y., on April 7-9.
The Falcons conclude the season at the USA Gymnastics Championships (April 15-16) in Ithaca, N.Y., on the campus of Cornell University.
THE VERDICT: Riechle and Moore will be the leaders of a young squad that promises to bring excitement to the present and future of the men's gymnastics team.