CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Backed by strong performances in the National Qualifier, four members of the 13th-ranked Air Force men’s gymnastics team advanced into the individual event finals of the NCAA Men’s Collegiate National Gymnastics Championships, which are taking place this weekend at the University of Illinois.
As one of the top-three finishers not on an advancing team or as one of the top-three all-arounders from the afternoon session of competition at the State Farm Center, senior Lukas Texeira and the sophomore trio of Ethan Esval, Scott McMurray and Frankie Valentin will represent the Academy in five different events during tomorrow’s championship round.
Texeira recorded Air Force’s highest finish of the day, as he tied for fourth on the high bar following a 13.633 performance on his signature event. The senior, who will be making his second appearance in the individual event finals, was one of two Falcons to finish within the top 20 on the high bar, as classmate Christian Kalustian closed out his collegiate career with a 19th-place score of 13.033.
Esval earned advancing finishes in two events this afternoon, marking the second time in as many years that the sophomore qualified to the finals on the still rings and parallel bars. Esval tied for 10th on the parallel bars behind a score of 13.233, while finishing 15th on the still rings with a score of 13.533. McMurray earned his first bid to the event finals after tying for 11th on the pommel horse (12.833) and Valentin used a score of 14.200 – a mark just shy of his lifetime best – to finish 16th on vault and secure his debut in the final round of the NCAA Championships.
The quartet will return to the State Farm Center tomorrow (April 20) for the finals of the NCAA Men’s Collegiate National Gymnastics Championships, which is slated to begin at 6:00 p.m. (CT).