WMU News

Sky Broncos take second at national championships

May 24, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's flight team, the Sky Broncos, took second place in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship that concluded Saturday, May 21, in Grenada, Miss., making this the ninth consecutive year the team has earned a top three national ranking.

The 14-member team, which represented WMU's College of Aviation, turned in outstanding performances in the navigation and aircraft recognition events and took second in both the overall flight and ground portions of the competition. The University of North Dakota won the championship and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott, last year's winner, came in third. Delta State University was the host team for this year's event.

The Sky Broncos have placed in the top three at the NIFA championship in each of the past nine years and last won the event in 1998. The team finished in third place last year.

"I am extremely pleased with the team's success," says Dr. Richard Wright, dean of the College of Aviation. "It was a very difficult competition and they did an excellent job in retaining, for nine years running now, their standing in the top three in the country. It was an outstanding performance and I'm very proud of them."

At the NIFA championship, team members compete in six ground events and four flight events for a total of 10 opportunities to earn points. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the judged events. More than 150 pilots from 31 teams took part in this year's event.

"Overall, the team did a really good job and put in a very balanced performance," says head coach Ryan Seiler. "We improved tremendously over last year's effort. Our point total this year would have been enough to win the event in other years, but not this time."

Jesse A. Coeling, a WMU senior from Hudsonville, Mich., and the Sky Broncos co-captain, came in third in the event's "Top Pilot" standings. He earned top 10 placements in four of 10 judged events, including a first place in the navigation event.

All three of WMU's entries in the navigation competition placed in the top 10, with the team made up of Coeling and sophomore Mike Cherry of Charlevoix, Mich., taking first. Senior Sky Broncos co-captain Jay Orwin of Carleton, Mich., and sophomore Reese Swanson of Gilroy, Calif., took 5th place in the event. Senior Matthew White of Temperance, Mich., and sophomore Jess Dudley of Howell, Mich., took sixth.

The Sky Broncos saw all five of the team's entries in the aircraft recognition event earn top 10 placements. Cherry won the event; sophomore Jason McDowell of Willis, Mich., took second;

Coeling took fourth; sophomore Martin Coaker of Rockford, Mich., took sixth place; and White came in ninth.

Sky Broncos team members also scored top 10 placements in short field landings, power off landings, message drop, simulator, preflight inspection and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.

Competitors at this year's NIFA championship included the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, Ohio State University, Florida Tech, Purdue University and Auburn University.

The Sky Broncos are based at WMU's College of Aviation facilities, which are located at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek. More than 600 undergraduates are enrolled in aviation programs there.

Members of the 2000 Sky Broncos are:

Michael Cherry, Charlevoix, Mich., who graduated from Charlevoix High School in 1998, is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Gail and Eric Cherry of 7854 S. Dennis Road, Ellsworth.

Martin Coaker, Rockford, Mich., who graduated from Rockford High School in 1997, is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Nancy and John Coaker of 2882 Riverwoods.

Jesse A. Coeling, Hudsonville, Mich., who graduated from Hudsonville High School in 1995, is a senior majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Wendy and Thomas Coeling of 4888 Barry St.

Jeff Dougherty, Libertyville, Ill., who graduated from Libertyville High School in 1999, is a freshman majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Roe Dougherty of 813 Pembroke Road and Kevin Dougherty of Gurnee, Ill.

Jess Dudley, Howell, Mich., who graduated from Howell High School in 1998, is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Beti and Richard Dudley of 322 S. Center St.

Jeff Haney, Jackson, Mich., who graduated from Columbia Central High School in Brooklyn in 1997, is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Linda Haney of 9800 Gillette Road, Clarklake, and John Haney of 827 Phillips, Jackson.

Ben Ilmer, Farmington Hills, Mich., who graduated from Harrison High School in 1999, is a freshman majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Connie and Steve Ilmer of 26344 Greythorne.

Jason McDowell, Willis, Mich., who graduated from Ypsilanti's Lincoln Consolidated High School in 1996, is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Laurie McDowell and Glen Cutright of 8260 Judd.

Jay Orwin, Carleton, Mich., who graduated from Airport High School in 1996, is a senior majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Ann and James Orwin of 266 Ready Road.

Reese J. Swanson, Gilroy, Calif., who graduated from Gilroy High School in 1998, is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Bonnie Banta of 550 Broadway St., Gilroy, and Jeff Swanson of 4047 Woodland Creek Drive #202, Kentwood, Mich.

Kenneth Rosengren, Wappingers Falls, N.Y., who graduated from Roy C. Ketcham High School in 1997, is a junior majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Diane Rosengren of 176 Sheafe Road, Wappingers Falls, and Steve Rosengren of 2006 Long Cove, Round Rock, Texas.

Chris Westcott, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who graduated from Lahser High School in 1997, is a junior majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Mary Westcott of 2743 Plumbrook, Bloomfield, and Ron Westcott of 321 N. Marias, Clawson.

Matthew White, Temperance, Mich., who graduated from Bedford High School in 1996, is a senior majoring in aviation flight science. He is the son of Sandy and Jon White of 1745 Stoneybrook.

Dana Wolz, Grand Rapids, Mich., is a sophomore majoring in aviation flight science. She is the daughter of Donna and Dan Wolz of 3122 Woodsboro Drive.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu


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