Air Force Wrestling Announces 2009-10 Team Awards
April 16, 2010
USAFA, Colo. - The 2009-10 awardwinners for the Air Force wrestling team were honored Thursday night at the team's annual banquet. Earning top honors was freshman Cole VonOhlen (Jackson, Minn.), who was named the Falcons' Outstanding Wrestler.
VonOhlen, the lone Air Force representative at the NCAA Championships this season, finished his rookie campaign with a 31-9 overall record. Among those victories were six wins over NCAA qualifiers, including a technical fall over 11th-ranked Adin Duenas of Cal State Fullerton. Ranked 18th in the nation at 141 pounds at the conclusion of the regular season, VonOhlen brought home a second-place finish at the 2010 NCAA West Regional to earn second-team All-WWC honors. He was also the unanimous choice as WWC Freshman of the Year, as voted by the league's coaches. In addition, VonOhlen was also the recipient of the team's Most Falls Award, winning 12 matches by fall this season.
Senior Joshua Smith (Orem, Utah) was honored with the Commitment to Excellence Award, which is granted to the cadet with the best all-around performance at the Academy (academics, military and athletics). Meanwhile, sophomore Mengyuan Qiu (Glendale, Ariz.), the team member with the highest GPA, was the recipient of the Scholar-Athlete Award.
Earning Most Improved honors for the Falcons was junior Derek Gillespie (Chesapeake, Va.). Gillespie, who posted a 10-17 overall record as a sophomore, made an impressive turnaround in the 2009-10 season, compiling a 20-11 record at 133 pounds. In addition to earning an individual title at the All-Academy Championships, Gillespie also earned a third-place finish at the West Regional, garnering third-team All-WWC honors.
The Coaches Appreciation Award was presented to a pair of individuals who have displayed great dedication to the program, teammates and coaching staff, embodying what an Air Force wrestler is, both on and off the mat. This year's winners were seniors Tyler French (Malta, Mont.) and Justin Shadrix (Bremen, Ga.). French, a West Regional champion and NCAA qualifier in 2008, was second on the team with 23 victories as he earned a runner-up finish in the WWC. Meanwhile, Shadrix, also honored as the team's captain, battled for a spot in the Falcons' lineup throughout the season. Despite seeing his career end prematurely due to injury, Shadrix continued to support his teammates with his leadership off the mat.
Also handed out Thursday was the Wayne Baughman/A-10 Wart Hog Award. Named in part for the Falcons' former head coach, the award is earned by the wrestler who, like Coach Baughman and the A-10 Wart Hog, is relentless and aggressive, demonstrates an unwavering determination to succeed and who embodies good sportsmanship and team spirit. The recipient of this year's award was senior Stephen Larson (Lakeville, Minn.). Larson, who also spent part of his career at the Academy on the Falcons' varsity football team, was able to overcome numerous knee injuries to become Air Force's starting heavyweight. Despite getting his senior season out to a rocky start, dropping his first seven bouts of the season, Larson went on to post 13 victories on the year, including 10 wins in dual competition. Larson also placed second at the NCAA West Regional, nearly earning an NCAA bid.
The Falcons, who graduate seniors James Ciccone, Michael Erickson, French, Thomas Gorry, Larson, Stephen Makuka, Akira Nervik, Shadrix, Samuel Sheppard, Smith and Steven Suhrie, finished the 2009-10 season with a 6-11 overall record and fifth-place finish at the WWC Tournament.