USPA held its 2018 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships at an unusually frigid Skydive Arizona in Eloy December 28-January 2. Skydive Arizona has hosted numerous Collegiates over the event’s 61-year history, and as usual, owners Larry and Lil Hill, Safety and Training Advisor Bryan Burke and the rest of the staff held a fantastic and successful competition despite the surprisingly chilly temperatures.
The competition started with the freefall events. First up was 2-way, which USPA divided into open and advanced classes for the first time to allow the more experienced teams—generally those from the various military academies—to compete against one another and to promote a more positive experience for teams that do not have nearly as much experience or support.
Eight teams competed in the open class. In a tight race for the bronze medal, Army West Point Dairy Queens and Army West Point Black Ice were tied after the standard three rounds with a 13-point average, and both teams scored 21 points in the jump-off round. Per the rules, the judges awarded the medal to the team that scored highest in any one round, which was Dairy Queens with its 17 in round three. Army West Point Conair took the silver with a 13.67-point average, and Army West Point Zachleberry Finn took the gold with a 15-point average.
In the newly created 2-way FS advanced class, only two of the nine registered teams were from the military academies, so splitting the classes appears to have had the intended consequence of providing a more even playing field for civilian teams. THWG took the bronze medal with a 7-point average, and two U.S. Air Force Academy teams—Air Force Hornidts and Air Force Temp—took silver and gold, respectively, with 12.33- and 14.33-point averages.
The 4-way FS open event was a battle of the military services with four teams competing, three from the U.S. Air Force Academy and one from the Army’s U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Air Force Skyfall, which had a 17.50-point average, edged out Air Force Shadow, which had a 17.33-point average, for the silver by only one point. In a surprising turn of events, Army West Point 2-Something bested the three teams from the Air Force (traditionally a powerhouse in 4-way at Collegiates) for the gold with a 19.17 average.
Three teams competed in the 4-way advanced event. Purple Hair Don’t Care from the U.S. Naval Academy took bronze with a 1.67-point average. With a 3.83-point average, the team named Space Force ROTC (poking fun at the military cadets, maybe?) from the University of Arizona and the University of Connecticut took silver, and CT True Blue from the University of Connecticut took the gold with a 8.67-point average.
An impressive five teams competed in the 2-way VFS event. Air Force Rejects took bronze with a 4.50-point average, Air Force Triple Threat took silver with a 5.75-point average, and Air Force Spare Change went home with the gold and an 8.25-point average. Yes, folks, you read that correctly: The U.S. Air Force Academy swept the podium!
Seven teams competed to complete formations in the shortest amount of time in 6-way speed, probably the most fun event at Collegiates. Air Force Foam earned the bronze with a total of 32.30 seconds. Air Force Mastiff took silver with 30.46 seconds, and Army West Point Scheme Team 6 took gold with a total of 30.36 seconds and set a Collegiate National Record for Fastest Time in round two by building a snowflake formation in 8.56 seconds. With only a tenth of a second separating the two top teams, it was an exciting event.
Nineteen competitors participated in the masters class of sport accuracy. In the four-round event, Jeremy Stanley took the bronze with a total score of 4.02 meters and made a dead-center landing on his first jump. Michael Colella took silver with a total score of 1.32 meters after making dead-centers on his first two jumps. And putting on an absolute master class in the masters class, Daniel Zivney secured the gold with a total score of 0.45 meters by making three dead-centers in a row after scoring 0.45 meters on his first jump.
In the intermediate class, 20 jumpers competed. Brad Ellis took the bronze with a total score of 8.74 meters, including dead-centers on his first two jumps. Zachary Daines earned the silver with a total of 7.57 meters, including a dead-center on his first jump. Winning the gold medal, Matthew LoVetri scored 1.42 meters, including a dead-center on his first, third and fourth jumps.
Novice sport accuracy, currently the biggest event at Collegiates, had 33 competitors register. Connor McQueen took bronze with 34.97 meters, Evan Peterson took silver with 23.20 meters, and Rachel Kinnison earned the gold with 17.90 meters.
Thirteen teams vied for medals in the team event, which compiled scores from the team members’ first three rounds of sport accuracy into a total team score. Army West Point Marshawn took bronze with 72.81 meters, Army West Point Dark Horse took silver with 56.79 meters, and Air Force Jake’s Angels went home with the gold and a total score of 29.79 meters.
With the interest in the accuracy landing (aka classic accuracy) event waning and the military academies ending their participation in it, this year’s event was likely the discipline’s last hurrah at Collegiates. Sadly, with deteriorating weather conditions and the ability to complete only one round, the event—the longest-running event in all of competitive skydiving—went out more like a lamb than a lion. With six competitors, there was a five-way tie for second place, with everyone (Michael Colella, William Derrick, Johnathon Muraski, Jeremy Stanley and Thomas Rounds) scoring 2.00 meters. Taking gold in what will likely be the final Collegiates individual accuracy event (depending on the USPA Board’s decision) was Rhianna Sullivan, who scored 0.85 meters.
Most Competitive Skydiver
West Point cadet Jeremy Stanley—who took gold in 6-way speed FS, 4-way open FS and team sport accuracy; silver in accuracy landing and bronze in masters sport accuracy—received the Most Competitive Collegiate Skydiver award. Since military cadets may not accept scholarships, Stanley passed along the attendant André Istel Memorial Scholarship to the Western Michigan University Skydiving Club Broncos. The Broncos, assisted by the dedicated Ben and Emily Bennett of Skydive Allegan in Michigan, put in lots of hard work and made many sacrifices to compete.
This year, as always, the energy and excitement of Collegiates was contagious. This happy atmosphere will be sure to follow the young jumpers to the 2019 USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships scheduled for December 28, 2019-January 1, 2020, at Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales.