Air Force Releases 2011-12 Wrestling Schedule
Aug. 31, 2011
USAFA, Colo. - The Air Force wrestling team will host the All-Academy Championships for the first time since 2007, highlighting the 2011-12 schedule which also features appearances at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Reno Tournament of Champions and Lone Star Duals. In addition, the Falcons will host Western Wrestling Conference rival Wyoming in their Senior Night competition on Feb. 2.
"I am excited about our 2011-12 schedule," said Air Force head wrestling coach Joel Sharratt. "It gives our athletes the challenges they need to be prepared to reach their goals on a weekly basis and over the course of our season. Several top tournaments will give our guys the national exposure they need to be recognized in the RPI and national coaches' rankings, and that is a key for the Falcon program to increase our number of national qualifiers."
For the fourth straight year, all of the Falcons' home events, including the Blue-Silver Intrasquad Match on Oct. 26, will be held in Clune Arena. Air Force will host its first dual of the season on Jan. 19, when it welcomes WWC foe Utah Valley to the Academy. Just two days later, the Falcons will host a pair of non-conference opponents in Cal Poly and New Mexico Highlands.
Air Force's final home dual of the season is slated for Feb. 2, as it honors its senior class prior to facing WWC rival Wyoming. Meanwhile, the signature event of the Falcons' regular season will be the 18th-annual All-Academy Championships, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 5.
"The institution and staff are excited to be the hosts of the 2012 All-Academy Championships," said Sharratt. "The Air Force Academy will showcase our facilities and program when we host all seven other service academies. This event gives us the opportunity to compete for the All-Academy title and it is such a incredible competition to see these 80 young warriors battle! In this event, every point is earned and battled for--they do not come easy when you are competing in an event like this."
Meanwhile, the Falcons also have a slew of road events, including several open competitions to start the season. Air Force will begin the year at the Hokie Open in Salem, Va., on Nov. 6, followed by trips to the Holiday Inn Open in Kearney, Neb., and the Old Chicago Open in Greeley, Colo., on Nov. 19. Air Force also returns to the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Dec. 2-3, to face some of the top wrestlers in the nation, while heading to the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18.
Air Force's road duals include visits to Coe College (Jan. 6) and WWC foes Northern Iowa (Jan. 8), North Dakota State (Jan. 27), South Dakota State (Jan. 29) and Northern Colorado (Feb. 19). On Jan. 14, the Falcons head to the Lone Star Duals in Grand Prairie, Texas, to face some of the top teams in the nation.
Despite having few home matches this season, the coaching staff has minimized the amount of time the cadets spend away from the Academy by eliminating mid-week competitions. "Every year, I meet with my program's leadership, both athletes and coaches," said Sharratt. "I took a new direction with this year's schedule that will keep our guys on campus and in the classroom. It will ease the demands that travel can put on our athletes and allow us as a program to maintain our top 10% APR (Academic Progress Rating) as recognized by the NCAA."
Air Force caps off the season at the NCAA West Regional on March 3, hosted this year by Northern Iowa. The tournament, which doubles as the Western Wrestling Conference Championships, determines which athletes will qualify for the 2012 NCAA Championships, which will be held March 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo.