2000-01 Wrestling Wrap Up
The 2000-01 Air Force wrestling team had one of its most successful seasons in recent history. Under the guidance of head coach Wayne Baughman, who has been at the Falcons' helm for 22 seasons, Air Force went 7-2 in dual meets and had three qualifiers for the NCAA Championships.
"Overall, we had a great season," head coach Wayne Baughman said. "We had a solid 7-2 dual record, and probably should have been 8-1. We also won several tournaments, and became the first team to win the All-Academy Championships two years in a row."
At the prestigious Collegiate Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev., which features some of the best teams in college wrestling, Air Force placed 25th of 52 teams. The team scored 34 points in the tournament - the most points they had ever scored in the annual event.
Air Force captured its first tournament trophy of the year when the team successfully defended their title at the Colorado Collegiates in Alamosa, Colo. The Falcons scored 102.5 team points to win the event handily. The Falcons easily outdistanced Western State College, which finished second with 70 team points.
The Falcons also defended their title seventh-annual Academy Wrestling Championships. The Falcons scored 103.5 points to capture first-place honors, while junior Scott Frohardt (149-lbs.) won the James K. Shelton Award as the tournament's most outstanding wrestler. Baughman won co-coach of the year honors.
The team had a very successful performance at the Jack Hancock Invitational (Golden, Colo.), capturing second place overall. The Falcons, who scored 128 points, were barely surpassed by Oklahoma, who finished with 138.5 points. Five Air Force wrestlers grabbed first-place honors at their weight classes.
The Dual Meets
After opening the season with a dominating 41-0 victory over Colorado Mines, the Falcons lost to Cal Davis, 13-21. The team rebounded nicely from the loss, winning six consecutive dual meets. During that stretch, the Falcons notched victories over Cal Fullerton (25-13), Western State (27-15), Adams State (44-3), Southern Colorado (22-20), Wyoming (19-16) and Portland State (34-6). The winning streak was snapped in the last dual of the season, as Air Force fell to nationally-ranked Fresno State (9-25).
"Our most rewarding dual victory was against Wyoming," Baughman said. "We had not beat them in a dual meet since I have been coach here."
When Frohardt dropped a weight class, the door opened for senior T.J. Huxel (157 lbs.), who slid into the vacated weight class. He was a solid wrestler this season for the Falcons, placing in four tournaments - including first place at the Cowboy Open and second at the Southern Colorado Open. He grabbed first place at the Colorado Collegiates and the Jack Hancock Invitational. Huxel lost just two dual matches all season. He capped off the regular season by earning an at-large berth, winning 6-4 in the true second-place in his match over Levi Prevost (Wyoming) at West Regionals. Huxel was seeded fourth at Regionals, but defeated the second, third and fifth seeds to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore Kevin Hoy (Hwt) had a terrific season, moving from the 197-pound weight class to heavyweight. Hoy won several tournaments, including the All-Academy Championship, the Colorado Collegiate, and the Hancock Invitational. He finished the season ranked 17th in the nation, and grabbed third place at Regionals to earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs. Hoy's season is even more impressive considering he is a "light" heavyweight, weighing in at just 212 pounds.
Although they did not qualify for NCAAs, numerous others wrestlers had successful seasons for the Falcons. For the second straight season, Sam Sherertz (184 lbs.) was snubbed in the at-large bid selection. Sherertz had a solid season and a strong tournament and was selected as an alternate at his weight class.
Terry Parham (167 lbs.) had a strong season, winning first place at the Colorado Collegiates and the Hancock Invitational. He had an unfortunate Regional tournament, losing his chance to earn an NCAA bid when he surrendered a 9-0 to Louis Taylor (Eastern Illinois), only to lose 16-14. Steve Schenk, a Wyoming wrestler Parham had defeated three times this season, won the weight class and earned the automatic bid.
Team captain Alex Pelbath (165 lbs.) was solid throughout the season, and despite missing some of the season with an injury, headed into regionals with a 26-2 record. He placed first at the Colorado Collegiates and Southern Colorado Open, and grabbed third place at the Oklahoma Open.
Other wrestlers made their mark, including newcomer Heath McKim (125 lbs.). McKim was the only freshman to start consistently throughout the season. He captured first place at the All-Academy tournament and third at the Colorado Collegiates. Junior Andy Peters (133 lbs.), who was nationally-ranked last season, and four-time varsity starter Ryan Montanez (141 lbs.) helped solidify the lower weight classes for the Falcons. Sophomore Ryan Kaiser (184 lbs.) gained valuable varsity experience and should be a solid starter again next season.
The NCAA Championships
Hoy was the most successful of the three Air Force wrestlers, winning two matches, including a pin of North Carolina's Matt Kenny in just 1:37. Both of his losses were by just one point, including one loss in the final seconds of the match.
Frohardt, who was struggling with the death of his grandmother the day before the tourney, lost both of his matches against two tough competitors.
Huxel defeated Levi Provost (Wyo.) 12-6 in his first wrestle-back match, but lost his other two matches, including a loss to Oklahoma's Shane Roller, the eventual third-place winner.
"All three wrestlers did well at the NCAAs," Baughman said. "Frohardt wasn't fully recovered from his knee injury and he struggled to get into his matches mentally. Huxel lost to two all-Americans, and Hoy lost one match on a flip of the coin and lost a heart breaker when he was reversed in the waning seconds of his match. I am pleased with their performances."
The Projection for Next Season
"We should be as strong if not stronger next season," Baughman said. "Our seniors will be tough to replace. They did a great job and got a lot of wins for us. But we have some strong recruits coming in that should help us, and some solid wrestlers in the junior varsity program. Blaine Brown should be able to step right into Huxel's spot and do great job for us."