February 10, 2014 Updated: February 11, 2014 at 4:07 am
Three home duals this week will conclude the Air Force wrestling team's home schedule, but the most exciting matches to watch will continue to take place in practice.
Josh Martinez (28-2 at 125 pounds), the team's star sophomore and a Pine Creek graduate, faces off regularly against volunteer assistant Nate Engel.
Engel, 30, placed second in the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials and was training locally in the Army WCAP program with an eye toward the 2016 Olympic Games and coaching for local clubs when he added volunteer duties with the Falcons team.
Since Engel and Martinez are roughly the same weight, they make perfect practice partners.
"Nate has man strength," Air Force coach Joel Sharratt said. "He's got old-man strength to bring, but Josh has some very unique skills as far as his explosiveness and ability to level-change and penetrate. It's a very dynamic fight. It's been very good for Josh."
In addition to Martinez, local products Devin Hightower (Widefield, 184) and Carter McElhany (Coronado, 141) figure to be in the lineup for the Falcons as they host Wyoming at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and New Mexico Highlands and Utah Valley in a Friday doubleheader at 5 p.m.
Smart's suspension puts perspective on Coggins'
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart was suspended by the Big 12 for three games after shoving a Texas Tech fan Saturday. The suspension was the same length to the one handed down to Air Force guard Tre' Coggins for unspecified team-related issues.
Coach Dave Pilipovich stood by his decision regarding Coggins, though he admitted that Coggins' violation was nowhere near as egregious.
"No, Tre' did not nearly push anybody or do anything like that," Pilipovich said. "But everything is different and you adjust it to your situation and your program and we did the right thing and I think we're moving forward from that and moving in the right direction."
Torf ready to return
Goalie Jason Torf is ready to return for Air Force, but the staff hasn't finalized the plan to work the senior back into action.
Coach Frank Serratore said he is toying with the idea of giving Torf and freshman Chris Truehl each a game this weekend.
Torf would have been available this past weekend, but Serratore decided he wasn't quite sharp enough and didn't see the need to rush the return with Truehl continuing to do a commendable job since taking over the position.
"He's taken a lot of pressure off of all of us by getting the job done," Serra
Line disparity no concern
Six of the seven goals Air Force's hockey team scored in a sweep of Mercyhurst this past weekend came from the top line of Chad Demers, Cole Gunner and Scott Holm. Serratore calls the line the best he's had in his 17 years with the Falcons.
But the question becomes, it is detrimental to the team to have such a steep drop-off between the top line and the rest of the squad?
"Is that something that concerns me? I'd be more concerned if we didn't have them, I'll tell you that," Serratore said.
Serratore acknowledged that finding secondary scoring is a focus, particularly since the formula that has carried the team to past success has been a scoring-by-committee approach.
Medina's career ends with injury
Senior guard Cherae Medina will require ACL surgery after suffering an injury during an 88-28 loss to Colorado State on Saturday.
"It's devastating for her and her family," coach Andrea Williams said. "She's fought through this for four years. She's a tremendous leader and a team captain."
Medina was averaging 8.9 points and a team-best 4.8 rebounds.
She will have access to the team's medical staff through her rehab. Her first assignment as an officer will be to serve as a liaison at the prep school.
The day before Medina was injured the Falcons (1-20, 0-11 Mountain West) lost freshman backup point guard Sydney Graham to season-ending achilles tendon surgery.
Awini apparently to Colorado
The question of where former Air Force quarterback Jaleel Awini would land has apparently received a quiet answer.
Though no announcement has been made, Awini's Twitter handle reads: "Student of Life. University of Colorado Football."
Awini lost his good standing as a cadet shortly after taking over as starting quarterback this past season. He missed the season's final eight games and was disenrolled from the academy prior to the end of the semester.