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Ike Award Update: Air Force Pulls Ahead

It has been neck and neck down the stretch, but the Falcons have a slight lead now heading into the final month of competition

NCAA Football: Air Force at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been over a month since we last updated everyone on our inaugural Ike Award standings. We set out to try and add something beyond the Army-Navy star series and CIC trophy for football that would capture competition between all three service academies over the course of the entire year, but I don’t think any of us at AAE thought the competition would be so close all the way to the very end.

All three schools have sat at nearly a .500 record against each other for the better part of the last three months, and as we head into the final month of competition, it’s worth taking a look at the last few contests and getting a better idea of where we stand with just a few remaining competitions left.

Since we last gave you an update, there have been seven matchups between service academy rivals, starting with a three game series for Navy and Air Force baseball:

Navy vs. Air Force Baseball (Freedom Classic)-Air Force Won 2 of 3

The Falcons and Mids got together for their annual matchup in the Freedom Classic down in Kinston, NC in late February, and it was the Falcons who came out on top, winning the final two games of the three game series to win the Classic.

In game one, Noah Song was dominant as usual. The Navy ace tossed six innings of four hit baseball without a run in what has become the usual performance for one of the best pitchers in the college game. Song recorded 14 strikeouts in the game, which would seem like a lot, except he does that almost every game. What was impressive, however, was that his first TEN OUTS came via the strikeout!

The Falcons bounced back after the Saturday game was rained out and postponed to Sunday with a doubleheader sweep of the Mids to secure the Freedom Classic victory.

Game two saw (7 innings) saw the Falcons rely solely on the long ball to come away with the victory. All six of the Falcons runs came via the home run. It was 4-4 heading into the sixth inning, but a two run shot by Gabriel Garcia (his first hit as a Falcon) moved Air Force ahead 6-4, which would be the final score.

Game three saw senior southpaw Ethan Nichols go six scoreless innings to pick up the win. The lefty only allowed four hits and had 10 strikeouts and the Falcons used timely hitting to come away with a 7-2 win.

Navy vs. Army Wrestling-Army Win

Navy had won the Academy Championship against Army and Air Force earlier in the year, but this time the Black Knights would not be denied. After jumping out to a 6-0 lead behind two solid performances from Trey Chalifoux and Lane Peters in the 125 and 133 pound weight classes, Navy jumped right back into the lead 7-6 with victories from Nicholas Gil and a major decision from Jared Prince at 141 and 149 lbs. Army and Navy swapped victories at 157 and 165 in the back-and-forth affair, before the Black Knights went on a run that saw them win the final four bouts of the evening to secure the 22-10 victory and the Star!

Air Force vs. Army Men’s Gymnastics-Air Force Win

The Falcons were able to secure a big victory against Army West Point in gymnastics thanks to an Academy record in the high bar from Lukas Texeira.

After four rotations, Army was clinging to a small lead, but the Falcons used the parallel bars to reclaim the lead before securing four of the top five scores in high bar, including the 14.6 from Texeira to pull away for the victory!

Rifle National Championships-Air Force Win (Air Rifle National Champs!!!)

Two days in Morgantown, West Virginia saw the Air Force Falcons fall behind on day one with a sub par performance in small bore before surging ahead during the air rifle competition on day two.

Sitting in 5th out of the 8 teams after day one, the Falcons used a National Championship performance in air rifle to close out the two day event in third place, ahead of both Army and Navy, and bringing home a Natty to Colorado Springs!

The Falcons actually tied TCU in the air rifle competition, but shot 10 more bullseyes than the Horned Frogs to secure the victory.

That’s a pretty impressive weekend when you win an NCAA National Championship and do it by leaving your two biggest rivals in the dust!

Army vs. Navy Baseball DH-Army and Navy Split

Behind a tremendous performance from, you guessed it, Noah Song, the Navy baseball team took game one against Army by a score of 5-2.

Army actually got to Song in the first inning with an Anthony Giachin two run homer to take a 2-0 lead on Navy.

Song would settle in and toss a complete game, his third in a row, behind 13 strikeouts and only two hits to get the victory.

A HBP, throwing error, and passed ball in the first inning allowed Navy to grab the lead at 3-2 and never look back.

Game two saw the exact same score but in favor of the Black Knights.

Four runs on four hits in the second inning for Army gave them a 4-0 lead, one they would hold onto for the 5-2 victory.

The four run cushion is all Sam Messina would need as he tossed seven innings of one run, hour hit ball to give Army the split.

The two teams still have three games remaining against each other to close out the regular season in Annapolis. Those three games could have huge implications for the Ike Award Champion!

USAG Gymnastics Team Finals-Navy Win

Navy used a terrific performance by sophomore Ryan McVay to win the USAG Collegiate Championship for the first time since 2008 and only the third time in the last 37 years.

McVay was crowned the USAG Collegiate All-Around Champion, and the Mids went on to win the competition by 15.9 points!

Navy posted a 400.7. Air Force was the next closest varsity team with a score of 384.8.

Next up is the ECAC Championship followed by NCAA qualifiers.

Army vs. Navy Women’s Tennis-Navy Win

The Navy women’s tennis team used their singles play to defeat rival Army and win this year’s Star competition.

Navy dropped the doubles point to the Black Knights early on, but won four of six singles matches to win.

Three of the four singles victories were from Plebes, which is impressive for them to pull that off in their first Star competition against Army, especially needing to rally after falling behind early.

That Star Series victory evened the yearly competition at nine apiece for Army and Navy with six stars left to go.

Updated Ike Award Standings:

Air Force: 12-10-3

Army: 17-22-3

Navy: 18-20

We are now officially in the home stretch of competition for the year, and the Air Force Falcons have pulled ahead for the inaugural Ike Award. Of note, Air Force is done with scheduled competitions against Army and Navy for the year, so they will more than likely finish the year with a 12-10-3 mark against their service academy rivals.

Army and Navy have 8 scheduled contests left, meaning it’s going to take a dominant performance from one of the two schools to overcome the deficit they now face and overtake the Falcons.

We still have outdoor track and field, men’s tennis, lacrosse, and baseball remaining. There is also still a chance that we could see some head to head Patriot League tournament action for these schools down the line, which would be exciting if that determined who won the Ike Award in its first year!

Stay tuned throughout April as we prepare to crown our inaugural Champ!