March 20, 2014
The Air Force women's gymnastics team returns to action this weekend, when it heads to Davis, Calif., for the 2014 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships on Saturday, March 22. The 13th-annual conference meet, which will feature the largest field in the past decade, will be held at 6:00 p.m. (PT) inside The Pavilion on the campus of UC Davis.
The six-team meet will feature Air Force, Alaska-Anchorage, Seattle Pacific and UC Davis, as well as Sacramento State and San Jose State, which returned to the league this season following a nine-year hiatus. Live stats will be available through the Aggies' website (www.ucdavisaggies.com), while tickets are also available through that site.
`ROUND AND `ROUND WE GO
Air Force begins the 2014 conference meet on the uneven bars, while Seattle Pacific starts on the vault, Alaska-Anchorage begins on the balance beam and UC Davis opens on the floor exercise (Sacramento State and San Jose State start with byes). Following the opening event, the Falcons will rotate through the balance beam, bye, floor exercise and vault, before ending the night with their second bye.
A QUICK CHECK OF THE CONFERENCE STANDINGS
San Jose State currently holds the conference's top Regional Qualifying Average, using a 195.510 mark to rank 30th in the national standings. UC Davis is ranked right behind the Spartans (31st) with a 195.260 average. Sacramento State is listed 48th with a 194.000, while Air Force and Seattle Pacific are ranked 53rd (193.610) and 54th (193.300), respectively. Alaska-Anchorage rounds out the six-team field with a No. 66 ranking and regional average of 189.510.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
UC Davis, the host of this year's MPSF Championships and winner of the last four conference titles, is the only MPSF program to break the 196-point mark this season, having accomplished that feat in late February. San Jose State and Sacramento State, which both returned to the league this season for their second stints (2002-05), combined for the first four MPSF titles, while Seattle Pacific has two and Alaska-Anchorage has one.
In 2013, Jessica Wallander claimed the MPSF title on the vault after scoring an Academy- and conference-record score of 9.925. In all, five Falcons have accounted for individual event titles at the conference meet, including Abbey Rogers (2009 balance beam, floor exercise, all-around), Jenna Dudley (2010 vault) and duo of Brittany Dutton and Lisa Wong, who shared the balance beam title at the 2011 championships. The Falcons, who have finished third during each of the last two seasons, have placed as high as second in the conference standings twice (2002 in a six-team format, 2011 in a four-team format).
LOOKING AROUND THE LEAGUE
Linnaea Hance is ranked third in the MPSF on both the uneven bars (regional qualifying average of 9.825) and balance beam (9.815), while holding a No. 5 placement in the all-around (38.790). As a team, the Falcons are listed third on the uneven bars (48.590) and balance beam (48.545).
AIR FORCE IMPROVES TEAM TOTAL ONCE MORE
Air Force improved its overall team score for the 11th consecutive meet on March 17, as it combined for a 195.300 during a narrow loss to 20th-ranked Arizona (195.775) in the program's regular-season finale. The Falcons, who notched the 15th-highest total in conference history, have improved their score during every meet this season, while accounting for six of the seven highest scores of Doug Day's tenure.
BY THE NUMBERS
After not reaching the 195-point mark for 10 years, Air Force bettered that plateau two times during a four-day span.
FLOOR'ING THE COMPETITION
With matching career-best marks of 9.850, Linnaea Hance and Kara Witgen shared first-place honors on the floor exercise during the March 17 meet with Arizona. Five Falcons accounted for scores of 9.800 or higher, as the team recorded a season-best mark of 49.125. Alexandra Stych tied for third with a career-best 9.825, while Jessica Wallander and Sarah Neumann were a part of a four-way tie for fifth behind matching marks of 9.800 (career-high for Neumann).
WITGEN NAMED NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
Kara Witgen was named the MSPF Newcomer of the Week, after helping Air Force to its best team score (195.075) since 2004 at New Hampshire on March 14. The freshman recorded a career-high 9.825 on the balance beam during that meet to assist the Falcons with an event score of 49.125, while adding a 9.750 on the floor exercise.
FALCONS BREAK THE 195-POINT BARRIER
Air Force posted its highest overall score of the last decade during a dual meet at New Hampshire on March 14, scoring a 195.075 in the loss (196.100). Linnaea Hance shared for the team lead on the uneven bars and balance beam with matching career-best marks of 9.875, as the Falcons easily surpassed their previous season-high of 193.900.
BEAM THEM UP
Highlighted by five scores of 9.800 or higher, the Falcons nearly matched the program standard on the balance beam, totaling a 49.125 (just 0.025 shy of the record) to win that event at New Hampshire. Linnaea Hance shared the event title with a score of 9.875, while Sarah Neumann and Kara Witgen tied for fourth with matching score of 9.825 (a personal improvement of 0.625 for Witgen). Air Force also tied for seventh on the beam, as Lindsay Ebel and Shannen Kelly tallied career-best scores of 9.800.
WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
Air Force will be off from competition next weekend, as it prepares for the NCAA Regional Championships (Saturday, April 5) and the USAG Collegiate National Championships (April 11-13). The fields for each of the six NCAA regional locations will be announced next week.