Air Force Heads to NCAA Regional Championships

    Jen Larsen

    Jen Larsen

    April 3, 2013

    Four members of the Air Force women's gymnastics team will travel to Columbus, Ohio, for the NCAA Regional Championships on Saturday, April 6, in Columbus, Ohio. The regional meet, which is slated to begin at 6 p.m. (EST), will be held at St. John's Arena on Ohio State's campus.

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    MEET INFORMATION
    The Columbus Regional will feature teams from No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 LSU, No. 18 Arizona, No. 20 Ohio State, No. 24 Central Michigan and No. 31 North Carolina State, as well as individual gymnasts from Air Force and Utah State. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for youth, students and seniors (62+). Live stats, as well as a video feed of each apparatus, will be available at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

    WHO'S WHO
    Three Falcons - Linnaea Hance, Katie Hawthorne, Jen Larsen - will compete in the all-around competition, while Jessica Wallander will serve as the region's event specialist on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise. In addition, Jessica Hanner (balance beam) and Alexandra Stych (floor exercise) are alternates into the regional meet.

    HOW THIS WORKS
    The top two teams and top two all-around competitors (not on an advancing team) from each of the six regional sites will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, which will be held April 19-21 in Los Angeles, Calif. In addition, the event winners at each regional site (who are no part of a qualifying team or one of the two all-around qualifiers) will also advance to the national championship meet.

    `ROUND AND `ROUND WE GO
    Katie Hawthorne will rotate with host Ohio State and begin on the floor exercise, while Jen Larsen will start on the uneven bars as a member of the Central Michigan rotation. Linnaea Hance, who will compete during Arizona's rotation, opens the competition on a bye and then moves to the floor exercise. As the event specialist, Jessica Wallander will rotate with North Carolina State, although she won't begin her competition until the third rotation.

    LAST YEAR AT THE REGIONAL MEET
    Linnaea Hance, the lone Air Force representative at the regional championships in 2012, placed 14th in the all-around at the Salt Lake City Regional to mark the program's best regional all-around finish since Jessa Leigl finished 12th in 2005.

    FIVE FALCONS CLAIM ALL-MPSF HONORS
    Five Falcons combined for 11 all-MPSF honors, as members of the conference's top eight in terms of Regional Qualifying Scores (RQS). Linnaea Hance (vault, uneven bars, floor exercise) and Jessica Wallander (uneven bars, balance beam, all-around) paced the Air Force contingent with three selections apiece. Katie Hawthorne (uneven bars, all-around) and Jen Larsen (vault, all-around) each earned two all-conference accolades, while Jessica Hanner rounded out the group with an all-MPSF tab on the balance beam.

    WALLANDER SETS VAULT RECORD, WINS MPSF TITLE
    With an Academy-record score of 9.925, Jessica Wallander won the vault title at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships on March 23. As the meet's last competitor on the vault, Wallander vaulted to a career-best 9.925 and her first conference title, after bettering the 24-gymnast field by 0.050.

    FIRST-SECOND-THIRD
    Jessica Wallander is the first Air Force gymnast to impact the program's all-time standings since 2004, she is the second Air Force gymnast to win the vault title at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships (Jenna Dudley, 2010) and the third Falcon gymnast to record a 9.900 or higher on the vault, joining Jessa Leigl (2004) and Kelly Roxburgh (1996), who had shared the previous record of 9.900.

    ANOTHER `WOW' MOMENT FOR WALLE!
    Jessica Wallander's 9.925 matched the top vault score in MPSF history, equaling the mark that Alaska-Anchorage's Dominique Ingram first set in 2004.

    FALCONS FINISH THIRD AT CONFERENCE MEET
    Air Force scored a 191.925 to finish third at the annual MPSF Championships, edging Alaska-Anchorage (191.850) on the final rotation. UC Davis won its fourth straight conference title with a score of 194.950, while host Seattle Pacific finished second with a total of 193.200. The Falcons placed four within the top 12 on the vault for an event score of 48.875 - a mark that stands just 0.025 off the program record.

    WHAT'S AHEAD FOR THE FALCONS
    Air Force returns to team competition next weekend, when it travels to Shreveport, La., for the 2013 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships on April 12-14. The three-day event will take place at the Gold Dome on the campus of Centenary College of Louisiana.

     

     

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