The Air Force football team wore full pads for the first time during the spring session on Monday. While the team didn’t go fully live in terms of tackling, there were plenty of drills that allowed players to hit something other than the weights for the first time in a while.
“It feels nice, first day with shoulder pads,” junior center Austin Hayes said. “You know you can go all out, so it’s a lot more fun.”
Hayes said it was a different feel than a first padded practice in the fall, when it has been several months since the last opportunity for contact. Afterall, Air Force is less than 60 days removed from the Armed Forces Bowl.
“In the fall it feels like you’re starting anew, but in spring you just kind of pick up the ball where you left off,” Hayes said.
The practice wasn’t without its tense moments, including a couple of small skirmishes that generally occur when contact is added to the equation.
“That’s going to happen,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “It’s part of being somewhere where you get competitive. We’re just looking for guys who are not only competitive but have good poise and understand what it means to be a teammate.”
Player of the week awards
Air Force garnered several conference honors, with women’s basketball player Jimi Blagowsky earning player of the week honors from the Mountain West and senior outfielder Alex Bast earning the same honor in baseball.
Lacrosse junior Bryan Price was named the ECAC specialist of the week.
Blagowsky, the first women’s player to earn the award in nearly a year, scored a career-high 19 points off the bench in a win over Boise State. She also had seven rebounds, three steals and had a pair of assists. Blagowsky scored 41 points in the season’s first 23 games and now has 32 over her past two games.
Bast hit .562 (9-for-16) as the Falcons split a four-game series against Navy at the Freedom Baseball Classic in Kinston, N.C. He had at least one RBI in each game.
Price, a midfielder from Denver, won 15-of-23 draws in two games and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal against No. 12 Lehigh.
Talking about lacrosse
Coach Eric Seremet had one primary goal for the season. And five games in, it has been achieved.
“My goal in the locker room is really simple – we want to be talked about,” Seremet said. “And we want to be talked about in a positive way.”
Air Force improved to 4-1 when it knocked off No. 12 Lehigh 15-10 at a game played at Air Force’s indoor Holaday Athletic Center when weather moved it out of Denver as part of the Frontier Airlines Face-Off Classic.
Seremet said the overall growth of lacrosse as a sport has resulted in more parity at the college level. When he was a player about 20 years ago the cream of the crop in college consisted of about six or seven teams. Now he feels that group has grown to about 15 or 15 teams.
Is Air Force now part of that?
“In my opinion I think we’re right there,” Seremet said.
Wing Open won’t have full slate
The 55th Wing Open Championships will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Clune Arena, but will be missing bouts at 112 pounds and heavyweight.
By going unopposed, Drew Pineda at 112 will become the 13th boxer to win four Wing Open titles.
Olawale Lawal, a former football player, will win the heavyweight title.
“It’s really a bummer to go out there and not have a bout in the Wing Open finals in front of the cadet wing and your peers,” longtime coach Eddie Weichers said. “But those are unavoidable.”
The Wing Open, which is run by cadets in nearly every conceivable role, will raise money for The Pat Tillman Foundation.