USAF ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force women's gymnastics team kicked off the 2018 season with a 193.425-191.350 victory over Wisconsin La Crosse on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Academy's Cadet West Gym. The Falcons, who registered the highest season-opening score of head coach Doug Day's 12-year tenure, nabbed three individual event titles and the all-around titles.
Junior Mariana Murphy recorded a score of 9.775 -- a mark just shy of her career high -- to win the balance beam, while also finishing first in the all-around with a score of 38.675. The junior also placed within the top half of the field in the remaining three events -- vault (9.650, sixth tie), uneven bars (9.625, fifth), floor exercise (9.625, sixth tie) to win the all-around by 0.600 points.
Freshman Tyler Davis, who finished second in the all-around with a tally of 38.075, was one of two first-year gymnasts to earn an event title in their collegiate debuts. Davis registered a 9.750 to win the vault, while classmate Jessica Kirkpatrick placed first on the uneven bars after recording a score of 9.775. Davis was also the Falcons' top finisher on the floor exercise, as she and junior Brittney Reed recorded matching scores of 9.700 to tie for second in the event.
The Falcons accounted a share of the top-six scores on the uneven bars, as Kirkpatrick (9.775), sophomore Anna Salamone (9.700), Reed (9.675), Murphy (9.625), senior Jamie Lewis (9.600) and Davis (9.525) helped Air Force dominate the top of the award podium. The Falcons also claimed a share of the top-four marks on the vault -- Davis (9.750), Lewis (9.725), Salamone (9.700) and Murphy (9.650), as well as the top-three marks on the balance beam -- Murphy (9.775), junior Emily Luers (9.750), junior Annalise Howard (9.725) and junior Riley Hill (9.725).
Air Force's 193.425, the 18th-highest total under Day's watch, improved his previous best season-opening score by more than two points -- easily bettering the 191.025 that the 2013 squad scored in their first meet of the year.
The Falcons return to action next weekend, when they travel to Denver to take on the eighth-ranked Pioneers at 2:00 p.m., on Sunday, Jan. 14.