USAF ACADEMY, Colo. – Senior Kara Witgen was named the women’s gymnastics MVP for the second-straight year, head coach Doug Day announced last night (April 26) at the squad’s annual post-season awards banquet. Witgen, one of four Falcons to be honored, is the fifth Academy gymnast to earn MVP honors in back-to-back years.
Witgen capped a stellar four-year campaign with a tremendous senior season. The Romeo, Mich., native collected first-team USAG All-America awards on the vault and floor exercise, while earning all-conference accolades on the vault (second-team), balance beam (first-team) and all-around (first-team). Witgen, a MPSF All-Academic Scholar-Athlete for the third straight year, picked up at least a share of eight event titles during the regular season. She matched the second-highest balance beam score (9.875) in Academy history at Seattle Pacific and again during a top-five performance at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, while accounting for team-leading, career-best marks on the vault (9.850 at USAG Qualifier), floor exercise (9.850 against San Jose State and at USAG Qualifier) and all-around (39.125 at home triangular with UC Davis and Seattle Pacific).
Following a strong debut season, Anna Salamone received the team’s Outstanding Freshman Award. The native of Bayport, N.Y., became the first Air Force freshman since 2012 – and just the seventh in program history – to earn multiple USAG All-America honors, as she captured first-team status on the vault and uneven bars. A second-team all-conference selection on the uneven bars, she was honored as the MPSF Freshman of the Week on Jan. 10. Salamone registered a team-leading mark of 9.800 on the uneven bars three times (at UC Davis, at MPSF Championships, at USAG Finals) and posted the squad’s second-highest vault score (9.775) against Sacramento State, San Jose State and at the USAG Qualifier.
Sophomore Emily Luers was named the team’s Most Improved, while classmate Analise Howard received the program’s Courage Award. Luers, who competed in just one exhibition routine as a freshman, made the squad’s beam rotation during the championship portion of the season and collected the Falcons’ highest score on that event at the USAG Qualifier with a career-best mark of 9.750. Howard, who missed her first season with injury, had a strong start to the 2017 campaign, earning MPSF Specialist of the Week honors after winning the uneven bars in her collegiate debut. Howard registered a team-leading 9.800 on the uneven bars and a career-high 9.775 on the balance beam during the Falcons’ road trip to Centenary in late January, before being sidelined for the rest of the regular season. The sophomore returned to the lineup for a routine on the uneven bars at the USAG Qualifier and posted a 9.800 to earn the Falcons’ second-highest score of the meet on that event.