Apr 8, 2012 12:42 AM by Jordan Mason
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Highlighted by four national champions, the Air Force boxing team picked up its 19th National Collegiate Boxing Association title on Saturday at the Academy's Clune Arena. The Falcons went 4-1 on the day, en route to their first NCBA championship since 2004.
Air Force scored 47 points to capture the 19th NCBA title in program history, defeating Navy by six points. Army, which had won the last four national titles, finished third with 21 points, while Nevada placed fourth with 19 points. Massachusetts and San Jose State rounded out the top-five teams, as they tied for fifth with 10 points each.
Air Force entered the day in first, holding a narrow one-point lead over Navy, but quickly extended its lead as junior Drew Pineda defended his NCBA title at 112 pounds. After receiving a bye throughout the first two rounds of competition, Pineda stepped into the national ring and earned a victory over Navy's Richard Gonong. Pineda applied immediate pressure to Gonong and forced the referee to call the bout in the third round.
The Falcons' added another championship belt in the 139-pound weight class, as senior Dan Starr claimed a split (3-2) decision over Maryland's Dan Contreras for his first NCBA title. Senior Casey Habluetzel stepped into the ring three bouts later and picked up his first national title at 165-pounds after claiming a 3-2 decision over California's Juan Ramos.
Habluetzel's victory clinched the team title for Air Force, returning the Falcons to a one-point (42-41) advantage over Navy, who had ended its night with the 156-pound bout. Air Force added one more title to its tally, as junior Olawale Lawal earned a unanimous decision over Lock Haven's Nick Gounaris in the heavyweight contest. Lawal immediately took charge of the ring, sending his opponent to the mat in the opening minute. He continued to keep Gounaris against the ropes during the bout to earn the vote of all five judges.
Senior Mike McLain also competed in today's championship round, but dropped his 175-pound bout with Army's John Maddux by a 4-1 decision. With his second-place finish, McLain concluded an impressive collegiate career with four consecutive NCBA All-America certificates.
In the championship other bouts, Navy's Tom Payne won the 119-pound title with a 5-0 decision over Penn State's Dave Martinez, Nevada's Andrew Morales defeated (5-0) East Carolina's Brandon Knox for the 125-pound championship. San Jose State's Oscar Gomez won a 3-2 decision over Navy's RJ Garcia for the 147-pound title, Navy's Noah Weintraub claimed the 156-pound title with a 3-2 split decision over Josh Surgeon of Coast Guard and Nevada's Josue Gayton won a unanimous decision over Army's Ryan Johnson. The remaining two bouts were won by walkover, as Josh Lopez of UMass won the 132-pound title and Navy's Keon Briscoe claimed the 195-pound title.
Nevada's Andrew Morales (125 pounds) was named the Outstanding Boxer for the Lightweight Division, while Army's John Maddux (175 pound) was named the top Outstanding Boxer for the Heavyweight Division. Army's 195-pound boxer Andre Shinda received the NCBA Sportsmanship Award
Air Force's four gold medalists are the most for the program in an individual championship since the 2003 squad also earned four. The wins by Pineda, Starr, Habluetzel and Lawal bring the Falcons' total of national champions to 109 since 1976.