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Sky Broncos fly home with regional title

Oct. 9, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, captured the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Region III title last week to qualify for the national championship next spring.

The 15-member WMU team won the ground event title and came in second in the flight events to win the overall competition title at the Oct. 2-6 event held at Ohio University. Kent State University came in second, and Ohio State University took third. The regional win marks the 16th time in 17 years the Sky Broncos have won the regional title.

The regional win qualifies the team for the May 4-10 national championship, which will be held at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. WMU flight teams have placed among the top four in the nation for 16 consecutive years.

NIFA regional competitions pit schools against each other in five ground events and three flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the events. A team first- or second-place finish at regional competition means the team qualifies for the national competition.

A standout Sky Bronco performance was turned in by team co-captain Benjamin R. Lauer, a senior aviation flight science major from Alpena, Mich., who took "Top Pilot" honors and was the competition's highest-scoring male contestant. Lauer shares team leadership responsibilities with Jared Neterer, an aviation flight science major from Mattawan, Mich.

Another outstanding performance for the WMU team was turned in by Jennifer Jakubiec, a senior aviation flight science major from Commerce Township, Mich. She was named top-scoring female contestant for the competition.

"This was a terrific and balanced team achievement," said Sky Bronco Head Coach James Whittles of his team's performance. "Other teams this year were well prepared, and it took a great effort from everyone on the team to achieve this success. I couldn't be more proud."

The Sky Broncos are competing for the first time this year with the help of corporate sponsorship provided by L-3 Avionics Systems of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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