April 25, 2014
USAFA, Colo. - The 2013-14 awardwinners for the Air Force wrestling team were honored Thursday evening at the team's annual banquet. Earning top honors was sophomore Josh Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who was the recipient of the Falcons' Outstanding Wrestler award.
Martinez, ranked as high as fourth in the nation at 125 pounds, finished the season with a 33-5 overall record, earning his second-consecutive NCAA bid. The NCAA West Region runner-up, Martinez claimed a pair of individual titles, winning at the UNK Holiday Inn Open and All-Academy Championships, while placing third at two other prestigious events, the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and the Southern Scuffle.
The Coaches Appreciation Award, bestowed upon an individual who has displayed great dedication to the program, teammates and coaching staff, was presented to senior Vance Hawk (Ridgway, Colo.). Meanwhile, sophomore Adam Jackson (Rosemount, Minn.) 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).
Earning Most Improved honors for the Falcons were seniors Devin Hightower (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Greg Rinker (Northampton, Pa.). Hightower, one of Air Force's team captains this season, ended the year with an 18-13 overall record at 184 pounds, and despite missing part of the season due to injury, was able to earn his first NCAA bid by winning the true second-place match at the NCAA West Regional.
Meanwhile, Rinker, the Falcons' starter at 133 pounds, posted a 19-13 overall record in 2013-14. After a slow start to the year, Rinker won nine of his last 10 bouts heading into the NCAA Championships, claiming the individual title at the NCAA West Regional to become a national qualifier for the first time in his career.
Sophomore Marcus Malecek (Hammond, Wis.) earned a pair of honors, capturing the Scholar-Athlete Award, while also receiving the Iron Bolt Award, given to the team's top performer in the strength and conditioning program. In addition, sophomore Konner Witt (Oak Harbor, Ohio) was recognized with the Most Falls Award, after leading the team with 13 falls on the year.
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 the award for the second straight season was senior captain Josh Kreimier (Fort Collins, Colo.), who battled through adversity, including injuries, all season to earn his third-straight NCAA appearance.
Additionally, volunteer assistant coach Nate Engel was given the Service Above and Beyond Award in appreciation for the work he has done with the program over the past year.
The Falcons, who graduate 12 seniors this year, finished the 2013-14 season with an 11-6 overall dual record and sent four wrestlers--Hightower, Kreimier, Rinker and Martinez--to the NCAA Championships.