Across the service academy landscape, we had a number of teams competing for championships and putting on performances for the ages. The following teams nabbed a title of some sort and are up for consideration for “Best Championship Performance” for 2018-2019.
Air Rifle National Championship, Air Force
There were a number of big-time championship performances this last season, but there was only one National Championship performance for our service academy teams! After day one at the Rifle National Championships, the Falcons sat in fifth place following the smallbore competition. But it was on day two that they would cement their place in Air Force rifle history, as the team tied TCU in the air rifle portion with a score of 2368. However, they scored 10 more center shots than the Horned Frogs, putting them in place to win the air rifle national title for the first time in school history and to finish the competition ranked third in the country, the Falcons highest national team ranking since 1996.
Both Spencer Cap (sixth) and Peter Fiori (seventh) placed in the top eight finals round with 592 and 596, respectively.
This was obviously a huge performance and championship, and members of the Air Rifle team even got a shout out from the president during graduation.
Air Force Academy wins first-ever NCAA air rifle championship with a score of 2368-181X -- https://t.co/07EW6iRs9e@AF_Academy #NCAA #NCAARifle #CompetitiveShooting #AirRifle @usairforce pic.twitter.com/c0Ht87iIFw— Shooting Sports USA (@SSUSA_Magazine) March 14, 2019
Patriot League Men’s Lacrosse Championship, Army
There were several impressive championship performances for Army this season, but perhaps none was bigger than winning the Patriot League Men’s Lacrosse tournament championship and making it back to the NCAA tournament. Given the fact that they had to upset bot the #1 and #2 seeds along the way to do it, it was quite the achievement. The Loyola victory may have been the most impressive as Johnny Surdick shut down Pat Spencer, but that wasn’t a championship performance, so we will recap the takedown of Lehigh to secure the victory. The star of the show in this one was freshman sensation Brendan Nichtern, who led the team with his game-high of six points on three goals and three assists. All three of his goals came during a crucial 6-0 run that helped Army close out the game. It was that 6-0 run in the fourth quarter that gave the Black Knights the come from behind victory. AJ Barretto was also dominant in the net again, securing 12 saves, and earning tournament MVP honors for his play. After winning the championship, Army finished the season ranked 13th in both the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches Poll.
Volleyball Patriot League Tournament, Navy
They needed five sets to do it, but Navy finally got over the American hump, as the Mids earned their first-ever Patriot League Women’s Volleyball Championship this past season. For the last five years, American held the PL Tournament title but Navy closed out the match during the fifth set on a 7-3 run with three kills led by Maddi Sgattoni. Sgattoni was also named tournament MVP. The Patriot League All Tournament Team featured three Mids including Sgattoni, Patricia Mattingly, and Sydney Shearn. This was truly a significant accomplishment for this Navy team to pull this out on American’s home court. The Eagles were a perfect 31-0 in Patriot League tournament games on their home court, having won the tournament 15 times in 17 years in the Patriot League. They had never lost the Finals in a year they were hosting. For Navy, which had lost to American twice on the season already, including dropping a tough 3-2 match in their previous meeting at Bender Arena, it was the culmination of several years on the rise and one of the best championship performances by any service academy team this year!
USAG Collegiate Team Gymnastics Championship, Navy
Navy had not won the USAG Collegiate Team Championship in gymnastics since 2008, and had only accomplished that feat twice previously in 37 years of the competition. Not only did they secure their third USAG Championship this year, they did it in dominating fashion! Led by Ryan McVay, who wast crowned the All-Around champion for the event, Navy won by 15.9 points over their next closest varsity competitor. Frank Bradley and Lucas Beltran also turned in top performances on the floor exercise and pommel horse to pace the Mids to a victory they hadn’t achieved in 11 years.
Navy rolls to USAG Collegiate Team Championship on Friday! The Mids scored 400.7 points and surpassed the field by 15.9 points. The USAG title is the first for Navy since 2008. Ryan McVay wins All-Around. https://t.co/xAGpichQql pic.twitter.com/KdpBuQUadf— Navy Gymnastics (@NavyGymnastics) March 30, 2019
With so many school records, “firsts” and nail biting games, you definitely have your work cut out for you in the voting department. Whichever you choose, we can all agree all of these teams had quite the memorable performance.
But remember, there can only be one winner—so, cast your vote starting Wednesday June 19th and let us know what you think was the greatest championship performance of the year!