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Sky Broncos advance to nationals

Oct. 24, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's precision flight team, the Sky Broncos, advanced to compete with schools from across the country after finishing second in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Region III event.

The 15-member WMU traveling team won the ground events and came in second in flight events, ranking just below Kent State University, the school that ultimately won the regional title and was the host of the Oct. 13-18 competition. The Sky Broncos pulled a total of 704 points, just 58 shy of Kent State University, despite having five new members and dominating the ground events by more than 110 points.

NIFA regional competitions pit schools against each other in five ground events and three flying events. Team points are earned by competitors who place in the top 10 in each of the events. A team first- or second-place finish at regional competition means the team qualifies for the national competition to be held May 17-23 at Parks College of St. Louis University.

WMU flight teams have placed among the top four in the nation for 17 consecutive years.

For regionals, a standout Sky Bronco performance was turned in by Kevin Kotewa, a senior aviation flight science major from Memphis, Mich., who was regional top pilot and placed first in both short-field landings and navigation.

Another outstanding performance for the WMU team was turned in by Jared K. Neterer, a junior aviation flight science major from Mattawan, Mich., who ranked first in computer accuracy and was runner up for top pilot; and by Erick McDaniel of Battle Creek, Mich., a junior studying aviation science and business administration, who placed first in aircraft recognition.

"Our team depth is strong this year, and we will be prepared to show that at nationals," says Steve Tkachuk, a WMU flight instructor who is in his first year as head coach for the Sky Broncos. Other members of the coaching team include Capt. Jess Dudley, a WMU alumnus and previous Sky Bronco competitor who works for ASA Airlines; 1st Officer Blake Koehn, also from ASA; and Benjamin Lauer, a 2008 WMU graduate and previous Sky Bronco competitor.

Members of this year's Sky Broncos traveling team who competed in the regional match include:

  • Robert Bowden
  • Kevin Helmboldt
  • Jeremy Jackson
  • Kathleen Jevnisek
  • Kyle Johnson
  • Kaitlin Klingler
  • Kevin Kotewa
  • David Lerond
  • Erick McDaniel
  • Kate Meyer
  • Jared Neterer
  • Drew Pearson
  • John Robbins
  • Lee Wierenga
  • Matthew Ziomkowski

Other members of the team are Erik Broderdorf, Andrew Seguin, Tim Ham, Remington Atkinson, Christopher Ivan, Nate McCune, Kyle Mallory and Alex Patterson.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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