Academy-Record High Bar Helps Air Force Beat Army West Point

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USAF ACADEMY, Colo. An Academy-record high bar score of 14.600 from senior Lukas Texeira helped the 13th-ranked Air Force men’s gymnastics team secure a 394.250-389.950 victory over service academy rival and 12th-ranked Army West Point this afternoon (Mar. 2) at the Academy’s Cadet West Gym.

In the final event of the meet, Texeira posted a career-best 14.600 to easily win the high bar and give Air Force victory. Improving his own Academy-record score by 0.150, the senior bettered the rest of the 10-gymnast field by nearly two points – and produced the third-highest high bar score in the country so far this season.

Texeira was one of four event winners for the Falcons, who improved to 2-0 on the season over their counterparts from West Point. A trio of sophomores – Scott McMurray, Allan Shadan and Frankie Valentin – also earned victories for the Falcons, as McMurray scored a career-best 13.850 to win the pommel horse, Shadan registered a season-high 13.500 to win the parallel bars and Valentin matched his career-best of 13.900 to take first on the still rings.

In addition to their respective event victories, Texiera and Valentin also earned team-leading scores of 13.850 to tie for second on the vault. Valentin also added a third-place score of 12.900 to tie for third on the high bar, while Texeira recorded another top-five finish on the still rings (13.450, fifth).

Senior Christian Kalustian rounded out the Falcons’ list of event leaders, as he posted a mark of 13.800 to finish second on the floor exercise. The Falcons claimed two of the top-three scores on four events, including Texeira and Valentin’s tie for second on the vault. Sophomore Ethan Esval (still rings, 13.750) and senior Ryan Girouard (high bar, 12.950) tallied second-place scores to help Air Force to a 1-2 finish on their respective events, while freshman Collin Hickey scored a career-best 13.600 to finish third behind Kalustian on the floor exercise. Girouard tied for fourth on the pommel horse with a 12.750, while Kalustian added a fifth-place mark of 12.600 on the high bar.

Freshman Nathan Reed placed within the top half of the field in a pair of events, as he scored a career-best 12.750 to tie with Girouard for fourth on the pommel horse and added a fifth-place mark of 12.850 on the parallel bars. Classmate Alex Schechtman made collegiate debut this afternoon, scoring a 12.900 to finish fourth on the parallel bars.

It was a close contest throughout the day and due to an early-meet injury, several Air Force alternates stepped up for the first collegiate competitions. The Falcons held a four-point lead (67.400-63.500) after the first rotation, but the Black Knights responded to take a narrow lead on the next rotation and continued to maintain the lead through the next four events. Air Force retook the team lead following its parallel bars rotation and used four of the top-five scores on the high bar to secure the team title.

Air Force heads back out on the road next week for a pair of contests. The Falcons will face conference foe and second-ranked Stanford in California on Friday, March 8, before traveling to Arizona to face Arizona State, Penn State and Navy on Saturday (March 9) afternoon.