I’ve been saying for weeks now that we’re approaching the end of the school year, but now, with only eleven days left until the class of 2019’s hats go up in the air and the Thunderbirds fly over Falcon Stadium, it’s truly becoming reality. Falcon baseball has officially closed out its season and at this point, we’re only left with the NCAA prelims and outdoor championships in track and field on the intercollegiate side of sports, but there are plenty of athletes still competing on the fields of strife.
As a fan of Falcon sports and a believer that our athletic teams can compete with any other Division I team in the country on any given day, I have to say the Air Force baseball team had a disappointing season considering the team’s talent. With a 2-1 series win over San Jose State, the Falcons were able to pull off a .500 season at 26-26. They finished 5th in the conference overall, which means they won’t be able to have a shot at the conference championship in the four-team tournament despite being only two games back from numbers three and four Nevada and UNLV. It’s also worth noting that Air Force only played 26 conference games, while the aforementioned teams both played 30. The final two games in the New Mexico series were also cancelled due to weather, and games against San Diego State and Fresno State were also cancelled earlier in the season, so the argument could be made that we could be having a different scenario had those games been played.
Regardless of the wargaming that can be done in hindsight, there is a lot for these young men to be proud of. The class of 2019 has had 107 wins over their four year tenure, making them the winningest baseball program in Academy history. Nic Ready, who hit 50 college career home runs with 13 this season, is also up for the Lowes Senior Class Award and sits in third place in voting from the fans. Now that the season is complete, keep an eye out during the MLB draft because there is a good chance we’ll hear a Falcon’s name called.
Track and Field
Though not the most home-viewer friendly of sports, you may want to keep track of the NCAA West outdoor track and field prelims coming up next weekend in Jacksonville, Florida.
The men qualified multiple athletes in four events, including the pole vault (sophomore Greg Skage, senior Sam Hinegardner, sophomore Mitch Lipe), 800-meter run (junior Michael Rhoads, senior Gordon Kowalkowski), 5000-meter run (senior Jacob Bilvado, senior Nathan Thomas) and javelin throw (junior Parker Spearman, junior Bailey Ishler), while the women advanced a pair of athletes in the 5000-meter run (senior Jaci Smith, sophomore Maria Mettler).
18 athletes have qualified in 14 events going into the meet and if any of the athletes qualify, they will head to the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas on June 5th through the 8th.
If you thought wrestling was only a winter sport in the NCAA, you’ve clearly never met a wrestler. It’s most certainly a lifestyle for these athletes and Air Force Academy senior Alex Mossing exemplifies that. He wrestled at 72 kg in the men’s greco roman tournament at the USA Wrestling World Team Trials at NC State on May 18. This title will send him to the Final X, and even which could earn him a spot on Team USA at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships.
At the meet, Mossing wrestled as a number nine seed and pinned the number one seed RaVaughn Perkins. Then, in an inter service matchup for the ages, Mossing defeated Army WCAP wrestler Michael Hooker to win his weight class. The Final X will take place June 15th, at which point Second Lietenant Alex Mossing will be wrestling for his shot to represent the country and wear red, white, and blue in the fall’s World Wrestling Championships held in beautiful Astana, Kazakhstan.
While intercollegiate sports usually get most of the limelight, cadets at the Air Force Academy can compete athletically in a lot of ways. One of which is club Ultimate Frisbee. Many of the players have a history with other sports like soccer and football and their ability to bring those skills makes for some really exciting gameplay.
Over the weekend, the Air Force club team, known as the Afterburn, competed in the USA Ultimate D-III College Championship and lost in the finals to Middlebury College. Although they couldn’t come away with the win, they were still able to put together an impressive highlight reel.
The class of 2019 has done some amazing things for Air Force Athletics in their four years at the Academy. Their legacy has been made and we here at AAE are sad to see them go, but there is no doubt they will continue to do great things in the big blue Air Force. This will likely be the final Around the Flightline with recaps on our athletic competitions for the spring season, but come back next week for more Air Force talk as we begin to shift our focus to the new incoming cadets and fall sports.