October 28, 2004

Flying Salukis capture regional title

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- With a squad depleted by graduation, coach Michael S. Frette didn't quite know what to expect from his Southern Illinois University Carbondale Flying Salukis at last week's National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region VIII competition.

But the tradition-rich Flying Salukis came through to win its second consecutive regional title at the University of Illinois' Willard Airport, and in the process, advance to national competition in April for a 36th consecutive year.

Seven teams participated in the four-day competition. SIUC won the event, followed by the University of Illinois and Purdue. The Flying Salukis finished first overall in the five ground events, ahead of Purdue and the University of Illinois. SIUC finished second, behind Illinois, and ahead of Middle Tennessee State University in the two flight events.

The top 10 scores in each event earned points toward the team score.

Ground events were computer accuracy, aircraft preflight, simulator, aircraft recognition and simulated comprehensive area navigation (SCAN). Flight events were power-off precision landings and power-on landings. Scores in two other flight events, navigation and message drop, did not count toward total scores due to weather, but contestants still received medals.

Frette, an assistant chief flight instructor in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, was particularly pleased with the finish. Seven team members from last year are among this

year's squad, but had not gotten in a lot of events due to what was primarily a senior-laden team.

I was very impressed with the team because this is actually early for the regionals, said Frette, who is in his first year as head coach after six years as an assistant coach.

They really stepped it up after we lost all that senior leadership, said Frette, who was chosen Region VIII Coach of the Year.

Weather conditions early in the week not only limited practice time in the air, but meant competitors landed on a different runway in the competition and they still did well, Frette said.

Everybody on the team took those three days and really honed their skills on the ground events, he said. They did everything we asked of them and it showed.

The 15-member team was led by strong performances of senior Douglas A. Gibbs, who won in both short-field landings and aircraft recognition, and senior William M. Gersch, who was first in SCAN and second in computer accuracy.

Gibbs, the son of Margaret and David Gibbs of Princeville, was third in SCAN, eighth in aircraft preflight inspection, and eighth in power-off precision landing. Gersch, the son of Sandy and Bill Gersch of Algonquin, was ninth in simulator and tied for 10th in short-field landing.

Other Flying Salukis placing in the competition were:

Timothy A. Cipolla, a junior, who was third in power-off precision landing, fourth in aircraft recognition, and eighth in computer accuracy. He is the son of Christine and Donald Cipolla of Hurricane, W. Va.

Jonathan D. Greene, a junior, who was fourth in computer accuracy, fifth in SCAN, and seventh in short-field landing. He is the son of Karen and Mark Smetana of New Lenox.

Brandon E. Crowd, a freshman, was second in aircraft recognition. He is the son of Sylvester and Deidra Tig-Crowd of Ontario, Calif.

Garrett E. Hackett, a junior, was fifth in aircraft preflight inspection. He is the son of Pam and Chris Hackett of Algonquin.

Patrick T. Skonie, a senior, was sixth in SCAN. He is the son of Wendy Skonie of Aurora and Thomas Skonie of Naperville.

William J. Strauthers, a junior, was 10th in aircraft recognition. He is the son of Maureen and Mike Lilleeng of Fox Lake and Jack Strauthers of Hamilton, Ohio.

In the message drop event, Jennifer L. Byrne, a freshman, was sixth and Ryan C. Warren, a junior, was eighth. Byrne is the daughter of Darcy and Scott Byrne of Algonquin; Warren is the son of Kris and Holland Warren of Princeville.

In navigation, the team of Greene and Cipolla was third, and Gersch and Hackett finished fifth.

Frette credited assistant coaches Matthew T. Clevenger and Bryan T. Harrison for their work.

I thought we were going to do OK, Frette said. Having those seniors for three years, you lost all that experience. I knew we were capable of getting first but I didn't expect it. They went beyond expectations.

Other Flying Saluki team members are:

Jeremy A. Baiman, a sophomore, the son of Michelle and Ron Baiman of Oak ParkEric P. Greener, a sophomore, the son of Gail and John Greener of Crystal LakeAlex J. Kemps, a sophomore, the son of Jenny and John Kemps of Emmaus, Pa.; Eric T. Miller, a sophomore, the son of Elyece and Scott Miller of St. Charles; and Sabrina J. Weber, a sophomore, the daughter of Debra Weber-Stokes of McHenry.

The national competition is the last week of April at Kansas State University.

Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.