May 9, 2000
KALAMAZOO -- WMU's flight team, the Sky Broncos, leaves for Mississippi Wednesday, May 10, to prepare for the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's May 16-20 national championship.
The 14-member team, which will represent WMU's College of Aviation, earned a berth in this year's national event by capturing first place last October in NIFA's Region III competition at Ohio State University. The national event will be held in Grenada, Miss., with Delta State University acting as host team.
At last year's NIFA championship, the Sky Broncos placed third, making it the eighth consecutive year the team earned top three placements at the national event. The Sky Broncos last won the national championship in1998.
"Our chances this year look very good," says Ryan Seiler, Sky Bronco head coach and the College of Aviation's flight dispatcher. He notes that nine of this year's team members were on last year's team. "We're a little more seasoned than last year and we have two strong returnees as captains of the team."
Seiler says another factor in the team's favor is the involvement of two members of both last year's and the 1998 championship team, Eric Johnson and Kevin Wiig, who are serving as assistant coaches. Team co-captains Jesse Coeling of Hudsonville, Mich., and Jay Orwin of Carleton, Mich., also were members of the 1998 team.
At the NIFA championship, team members compete in six ground events and four flight events for a total of 10 opportunities to earn points. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the judged events.
"We're a fairly balanced team and should do well in both the flight and ground events," Seiler says, "but we've always been known for our strength in the flight events, especially navigation. We're very strong in that event again this year."
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org
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