SIU Flying Salukis team photo

The SIU Carbondale Flying Salukis finished third this past week in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championships — the 14th straight year the team has finished in the top five in the nation, including three national titles. Coach Nathan Lincoln, a senior lecturer in aviation management and flight in the School of Aviation, is in the third row, far left. (Photo provided)

May 16, 2023

SIU Flying Salukis continue national success with third-place finish

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Tradition and consistency are pivotal to success. Both are trademarks of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Flying Salukis when it comes to collegiate aviation.

Using balanced scoring and a team effort, the Flying Salukis finished third at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championships May 13 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The finish marks the 14th straight year the nine-time national champions have finished in the top five nationally and 11th time in 12 years SIU has been in the top three overall.

With 12 of 18 team members scoring points, Coach Nathan J. Lincoln, a senior lecturer in aviation management and flight in the School of Aviation, was pleased with the team’s performance, which included finishing second overall in flight events. The May 8-13 competition featured 28 teams. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott won the title, followed by the University of North Dakota.

“This truly shows that competing well is a team effort. Everyone steps up and performs well when needed,” Lincoln said. “Our flying events performance was outstanding, but every event and point matter at a national competition. The ability of our members to perform well in each of their events is what truly leads to our success.”

Results are available on the NIFA website.

Strong team effort

The team placed in 10 of the 11 events they competed in. “SIU has an amazing flight program, and being able to stay in the top five in national competitions reflects that,” Lincoln said. “Our students go in and above every year to showcase SIU and the School of Aviation.”

Krzysztof Skubisz from Hoffman Estates, Illinois, who earned his degree in economics and aviation flight on Saturday, May 13, was the 13th overall scoring contestant with 58 points and was the top scoring for the Flying Salukis. Co-captain Wendy Elliott, an aviation management and flight graduate from Boulder, Colorado, finished with 49 points to place 20th overall and was the highest scoring woman in the event.

Other Flying Salukis who scored points were:

  • Noah Ciocca, aviation management and flight graduate from Morton, Illinois, 41 points; 26th place.
  • Dayne Snodgrass, senior, aviation management and flight, Byron, Illinois,5 points; 28th place.
  • Thomas Edgar, senior, piano performance and aviation flight, Charles, Illinois, 35 points; 34th place.
  • Grant Gillespie, sophomore, aviation technologies and aviation flight, Fort Worth, Texas, 28 points; 41st place.
  • Samuel Cogan, aviation management graduate, Alton, Illinois, 20 points; tied for 54th place.
  • Matteus Thompson, aviation technologies and aviation flight graduate, Cincinnati, 15 points; tied for 72nd place.
  • Amelia Anderson, aviation management and aviation flight graduate, Johnston City, Illinois, 12.5 points; 80th place.
  • Vassilios Georges, freshman, aviation management and flight, Chesterfield, Missouri, 12 points; tied for 84th place.
  • Jake Mack, freshman, aviation technologies and aviation flight, Lake Zurich, Illinois, 11 points; 93rd place.
  • Derrick Crider, economics and aviation flight graduate, Wheaton, Illinois, 3 points; tied for 141st place.

Additional Flying Salukis with hometowns, year in school and majors are:

  • Dale Miller, aviation management and flight graduate, Highland, Illinois.
  • Josie Boelter, freshman, aviation management and flight, Lomira, Wisconsin.
  • Ben Campbell, freshman, aviation management and flight, Richmond, Illinois.
  • Colin Ramsour, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Centralia, Illinois.
  • Mateo Torres, freshman, aviation management and flight, Park Ridge, Illinois.
  • Luke Trout, freshman, aviation management and flight, Holland, Indiana.

Credits assistant coaches

Lincoln noted the work of assistant coaches Mike LeFevre, Sydney Reijmer, Matthew Santos and Gavin Voris in getting the team prepared. All four are former Flying Salukis, he said.

“Each one of them puts in countless hours making sure that the team is performing at their best,” he said. “I am so grateful to have the support of so many talented individuals.”

Looking ahead

Snodgrass and Torres are team captains for next season, said Lincoln, who will also return as coach. Tryouts will be early in the fall semester as the squad then quickly prepares to compete for a 12th straight Region VIII title in early October at Lewis University.

“I take the most pleasure in the success of my team members,” Lincoln said. “Seeing and experiencing their name announced at a national championship banquet is a priceless opportunity. I still remember that moment when I was a Flying Saluki. My goal is help as many team members as possible have that same experience.”