April 29, 2012
USAFA, Colo. - The 2011-12 awardwinners for the Air Force wrestling team were honored Saturday evening at the team's annual banquet. Sharing top honors were junior team captain Cole VonOhlen (Jackson, Minn.) and sophomore Josh Kreimier (Fort Collins, Colo.), who were each recipients of the Falcons' Outstanding Wrestler award.
VonOhlen, who closed out the regular season with a 35-2 record, earned his third consecutive NCAA bid after winning a West Regional title for the second-straight year. VonOhlen, who was ranked as high as third nationally at 149 pounds, also reached the 100-win career plateau, the first Air Force junior to do so since 2002.
In addition, VonOhlen turned in his best-ever showing at the NCAA Championships, reaching the round of 12 and finishing just one win short of All-America status. VonOhlen was also the recipient of the team's Most Falls Award for the third-straight season, winning 11 matches by fall this year.
Meanwhile, Kreimier, who posted a 26-16 record on the season, earned his first NCAA bid with a third-place West Regional finish at 157 pounds. Kreimier also advanced to the round of 12 at the national tournament, posting a 3-2 record which included a pair of wins over nationally ranked opponents.
Junior Brandon Mueller (Greenleaf, Wis.) and team manager Pam Zhang were honored with the Commitment to Excellence Award, which is granted to the cadet(s) with the best all-around performance at the Academy (academics, military and athletics). Meanwhile, sophomore Chris Morales (Rio Rancho, N.M) was the recipient of the Scholar-Athlete Award.
Earning Most Improved honors for the Falcons was junior Clayton Gable (Dallastown, Pa.). Gable closed out the season with a 19-14 overall record, winning 10 of his final 13 bouts, including a first-place showing at the All-Academy Championships. Gable, who ended the season with a top-33 RPI at 164 pounds, earned several wins over nationally ranked opponents and finished as the West Regional runner-up.
The Coaches Appreciation Award was presented to a pair of individuals who have displayed great dedication to the program, teammates and coaching staff. Earning this year's award were freshmen Dylan Hyder (Yelm, Wash.) and Carter McElhany (Colorado Springs, Colo.). In addition, senior Sam Mitchel (Peru, Ind.) was named the recipient of the Iron Bolt Award, given to the athlete who demonstrates the highest commitment to the strength and conditioning program.
Also handed out Saturday 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 junior Jared Erickson (Newton, Utah), who battled back from a mid-season injury to return to the Falcons' starting lineup.
The Falcons, who graduate senior wrestlers Ryan Fountain, Mitchel, Karl Oeser, Mengyuan Qiu, Tyler Untrauer and team captain Alec Williams, finished the 2011-12 season with an 8-5 overall record and fourth-place finish at the NCAA West Regional. Meanwhile, VonOhlen and Kreimier became the first Falcons to reach the round of 12 at the NCAA Championships since 2003, when Kevin Hoy finished as a national runner-up.