March 7, 2013
The Air Force women's gymnastics team has a busy weekend ahead, crisscrossing the country for a pair of meets. The Falcons open action on Saturday, March 9, at the Eagle Invitational in Ypsilanti, Mich., where they will face host Eastern Michigan, No. 17 Kent State and MPSF foe Alaska at 7 p.m. (EST). Air Force then returns to the Academy on Monday, March 11, for its home finale against 13th-ranked Denver at 6 p.m.
MEET INFORMATION: SATURDAY
The Eagle Invitational will take place at Bowen Field House on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD
Kent State holds the highest national ranking of the four schools competing at the Eagle Invitational, as the Golden Flashes are ranked 17th with a Regional Qualifying Score of 195.755. Eastern Michigan is ranked 45th (193.810), while Air Force and Alaska are ranked 56th (192.420) and 61st (191.280), respectively.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
No. 17 Kent State tallied its best score of the year on March 1 to defeat Ball State 196.250-192.100, while Eastern Michigan collected its highest total of the year in a 194.775-194.675 loss to Southeast Missouri State on March 3. Alaska, who will face Central Michigan in a dual meet prior to the Eagle Invitational, has been off from competition since recording the third-highest team score in program history during a 193.350-192.850 loss to Eastern Michigan on Feb. 17.
MEET INFORMATION: MONDAY
Admission is free for all Air Force women's gymnastics meets, which are held inside Cadet West Gym. Following the meet, the Falcons will be on hand to sign autographs. Live video streaming will be available at GoAirForceFalcons.com.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Denver, currently ranked 13th in the GymInfo National Rankings, is coming off of the sixth-highest team score in program history (196.800) to win the West Virginia Quadrangular on March 3. Individually, Moriah Martin is tied for eighth in the national vault standings with a Regional Qualifying Score of 9.905, while Nina McGee is tied for 11th on the uneven bars with a 9.885 RQS. Like Air Force, the Pioneers will compete on Saturday night, hosting Arizona State and Illinois State at Hamilton Gymnasium.
LAST TIME WE MET
Although it hasn't faced any of their upcoming opponents for the Eagle Invitational, Air Force has met Denver twice this season. The Falcons opened the season with a dual meet at then-20th-ranked Denver on Jan. 12, tallying its highest season-opening score of the Doug Day era in a 196.600-191.025 loss to the Pioneers. Air Force returned to the state capitol for the Burnsley Invitational on Feb. 2, tallying a 192.675 to finish fourth behind No. 13 Denver (196.050), No. 24 NC State (194.925) and San Jose State (193.425).
AROUND THE LEAGUE
As a team, Air Force is currently ranked second in the MPSF with a Regional Qualifying Score of 192.420. Individually, Linnaea Hance and Katie Hawthorne are ranked third (9.750) and fifth (9.715), respectively, on the uneven bars, while Jessica Wallander is ranked fourth on the vault (9.765) and Jen Larsen is ranked fifth on the floor exercise (9.725). In addition, Hance and Hawthorne are ranked fourth (38.440) and fifth (38.370), respectively, in the all-around.
FALCONS SET NEW DAY-ERA STANDARD
With a 193.825 in the win over Seattle Pacific on March 2, Air Force recorded its best team score of the Doug Day era. The total easily bettered the previous "Day-era Record" of 193.300 that had stood since the 2011 season. In fact, this season's squad, which hasn't scored lower than a 190 all year, has accounted for seven of the top-20 scores since Day became head coach in 2007.
FALCONS SWEEP SEATTLE PACIFIC
Backed by three event titles, including four of the five scores that tied for first on the uneven bars and floor exercise, Air Force completed the regular-season sweep of Seattle Pacific on March 2. With a 193.825-192.975 victory, the Falcons, who accumulated the highest team total in seven years, improved to 2-0 on the season against their MSPF opponents from Seattle.
HANCE BREAKS 39-POINT MARK IN THE ALL-AROUND
Linnaea Hance became the Falcons' first gymnast since Jessa Leigl in 2004 to break the 39-point mark in the all-around, as she scored a career-best 39.050 to win the outright title in the four-event competition. Contributing to her total was a tie for first on the uneven bars (9.775), a tie for third on the balance beam (9.725) and a career-best vault tally of 9.775 to tie for third on that event.
TAKING CONTROL OF THE TOP
With matching scores of 9.775, the Falcons contributed to four of the five first-place scores on the uneven bars in the dual meet with Seattle Pacific. Linnaea Hance, Jen Larsen (career-best), Alexandra Stych (career-best) and Jessica Wallander (career-best) tied with SPU's Stephanie Wagner for first on the bars.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
The Falcons also dominated a large tie at the top of the standings on the floor exercise on March 2, as Jen Larson, Alexandra Stych, Katie Hawthorne and Shannen Kelly all used career-best marks of 9.825 to tie with Seattle Pacific's Kenley Memmel for first on the floor.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
Air Force closes out the regular season next weekend with a pair of meets in California. The Falcons will travel to Davis for a triangular meet with UC Davis and Sacramento State on Friday, March 15, before heading to Sacramento on Sunday, March 17, for a rematch with the Hornets.