Nov. 28, 2012
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force men's and women's gymnastics programs will host a pair of pre-season events on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Academy's Cadet West Gym. The men will host an open practice at 10 a.m., while the women will host their annual Blue-Silver Scrimmage at 2 p.m. Admission is free to both events.
The men, winners of the last three USAG national championship team titles and participants at the last two NCAA National Qualifiers, are under the direction of eighth-year head coach Kip Simons. The squad, ranked 11th in the 2013 GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll, features a strong returning lineup, which includes five USAG national champions in senior team captain James Okamoto (2011 pommel horse), classmate Tory Brown (2011 vault), sophomore Josh Ramos (2012 parallel bars), junior Mac Ritchie (2012 high bar) and classmate Ben Zaiser (2012 vault). The men's roster also boasts nine USAG All-Americans. In addition to the five champions, who hold a combined 11 USAG All-America accolades among them, the Falcons also return sophomores Gared Chapman (still rings), Greg Chaput (pommel horse), Nick Gaudlip (floor exercise) and Corbin Palmer (floor exercise, parallel bars), who claimed USAG All-America honors in 2012.
The women's team, comprised of only juniors, sophomores and freshmen, is guided by seventh-year head coach Doug Day. Junior team captain Jessica Hanner (2011 balance beam, 2012 balance beam) is one of seven returning USAG All-Americans for Air Force. Joining Hanner among the Falcons' all-USAG selections are classmates Emily Bucher (2011 balance beam), Linnaea Hance (2011 uneven bars, 2012 uneven bars), Katie Hawthorne (2012 uneven bars) and Jen Larsen (2011 vault, floor exercise, all-around), as well as sophomores Alexandra Stych (2012 floor exercise) and Jessica Wallander (2012 vault, floor exercise).
Saturday's preseason events will also be the first chance for spectators to see the Falcons' talented freshmen class. The men added Denis Aurelius, Thomas Oweida, Zach Owen and Josh Pyne to their roster, while Ali Ables, Ryann Anderson, Joey Ching, Shannen Kelly, Sarah Neumann and Andrea Perea joined the women's team.
The programs officially open the 2013 season on Saturday, Jan. 12. The men will host the 32nd-annual Rocky Mountain Open at Cadet West Gym, while the women will travel to Hamilton Gymnasium in Denver for a dual meet with the Pioneers.