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Sky Broncos capture third in national championship
May 28, 2009
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, finished in third place at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship that concluded May 23 at Parks College of St. Louis University.
The Sky Broncos came in behind two of the team's longtime rivals to take the third-place slot, extending the team's record to 18 consecutive top-four finishes in the annual national event. Three national championships, the last in 2002, are included in that run. This year, the University of North Dakota took first place and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona captured second place. Another longtime rival, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott (Az.) came in just three points behind the Sky Broncos to take fourth place.
The six-day competition concluded with a Saturday evening awards ceremony at which the final results were announced. The competition attracted more than 300 pilots from teams representing 28 of the top aviation schools in the nation. Each school earned the right to compete at nationals by winning or placing second in regional competition. Among the other schools represented at this year's national championship were the U.S. Air Force Academy; Kent State, Ohio, San Jose State and Southern Illinois universities; and the universities of Central Missouri and Illinois.
Teams accrue points to determine final standings by having individual team members place in the top slots in the competition's 11 judged flight and ground events. The Sky Broncos placed second overall in ground events and sixth in flight events.
"This year's competition was fierce, with many of our competitor schools really stepping up to the plate," says Steven W. Tkachuk, head coach for the Sky Broncos. "Our team really put forth a stellar performance, and made it happen for us. With Embry Riddle-Prescott only a few points behind, this really shows that everyone's effort really helps make the difference. Every last point counts."
Leading the Sky Broncos in scoring this year was senior Jared Neterer of Mattawan, Mich., who accrued 87 points in six events, making him the third-highest point winner among the competition's male contestants. He also was named the winner of the Harold S. Wood Award for Excellence, presented to the student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in academics, and service to his or her aviation program, institution and community. The recipient is chosen through a three-step local, regional and national review process, and receives a $1000 cash award and a wooden propeller trophy award. Neterer also tied for the Craig Morrison Award, which is given to the competitor who achieves the highest combined scores in three of the ground events.
Erik McDaniel of Battle Creek, Mich., won the fourth-highest number of points of any male competitor at the event. He was named WMU's outstanding team member for the competition.
Tkachuk, a faculty specialist in WMU's College of Aviation, had coaching assistance at the event from Tom Grossman, the University's chief flight instructor. The Sky Bronco team captain is Kevin Kotewa, a recent WMU graduate from Memphis, Mich.
Competition next year will begin with the NIFA Region III event this fall, which will be hosted by WMU in Battle Creek at the W.K. Kellogg Airport.
2008-09 Sky Broncos
- Robert Bowden, of Farmington, Mich., is a junior in aviation flight science. He is a 2006 graduate of Farmington High School.
- Benjamin Hastings, of Hillsdale, Mich., is a 2008 graduate of Hillsdale High School. He is freshman in aviation science and administration.
- Jeremy Jackson, of Three Rivers, Mich., expects to graduate in June with a bachelor's degree in aviation science and administration. He placed fourth in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.
- Kyle Johnson, of Arnold, Mo., is a 2005 graduate of Fox High School in Arnold and expects to receive a bachelor's degree in June in aviation flight science
- Kaitlin Klinger, of Hillsdale, Mich., is a freshman studying aviation flight science. She is a 2008 graduate of Hillsdale High School.
- Team Captain Kevin Kotewa, of Memphis, Mich., is a 2003 graduate of New Life Christian Academy High School. An April graduate of WMU, he majored in aviation flight science. Kotewa placed second in preflight inspection and fifth in crew resource management/line-oriented flight training. He was part of the 13th-place navigation team, and he came in 11th in scoring among all male contestants. Kotewa also was honored as the NIFA Region III Top Pilot.
- Dave Lerond, of Dorr, Mich., is a 2005 graduate of Hopkins High School in Hopkins, Mich., and expects to receive his bachelor's degree in June in aviation flight science. Lerond was part of the two-member navigation team that placed eighth, and also placed 20th in aircraft recognition.
- Kyle Mallory, of Rochester, N.Y., is a 2008 graduate of Churchville Chili High School in Churchville, N.Y., is a freshman studying aviation administration.
- Nathaniel D. McCune, of Hanover, Mich., is a 2008 graduate of Hanover High School. He is a freshman studying aviation flight science.
- Erick McDaniel, of Battle Creek, Mich., is a 2005 graduate of Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind. He plans to receive a bachelor's degree in August in aviation science and administration. McDaniel placed fourth in aircraft recognition, 13th in short-field approach and landing, and he was part of the eighth-place team in navigation. He was fourth in the number of points scored among male pilots, and he was named WMU's outstanding team member for the competition.
- Kathryn Meyer, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is a 2006 graduate of Forest Hills Central High School. She is a junior majoring in aviation maintenance technology.
- Jared K. Neterer, of Mattawan, Mich., graduated in April with a bachelor's degree in aviation flight science. A 2005 graduate of Paw Paw High School, he placed first in preflight inspection, second in computer accuracy and 11th in power-off landings. He also was part of the fifth-place team in crew resource management/line oriented flight training and the16th-place team in navigation. He had the third highest score among male contestants, and he won the Harold S. Wood Award for Excellence and tied for the Craig Morrison Award.
- Drew Pearson, of Battle Creek, Mich., is a 2003 graduate of South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Wash. He plans to receive his bachelor's degree in June in aviation flight science. Pearson came in fifth in computer accuracy, and he was part of the fifth-place message drop flight team and the 13th place navigation team.
- John Robbins II, of Munith, Mich., is a 2007 graduate of Bay City Western High School in Auburn and a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He placed 12th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.
- Andrew Seguin, of Alpena, Mich., is a freshman majoring in aviation flight science. He is a 2008 graduate of Alpena High School.
- Lee Wierenga, of Grandville, Mich., is a 2005 graduate of Calvin Christian High School in Grandville. He plans to receive his bachelor's degree in June in aviation flight science. Wierenga placed 19th in computer accuracy. He also was part of the fifth-place team in message drop and the 16th-place team in navigation.
- Matt Ziomkowski, of Walker, Mich., is a 2006 graduate of Kenowa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Mich. An April graduate, he received his bachelor's degree in aviation flight science.
Sky Broncos midway through national competition
Sky Broncos head to national championship
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org
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