Photo image via DenMar Services/U.S. Air Force Academy
The Air Force Falcons are hoping to be a player in the Wester Water Polo Association this upcoming season.
The Air Force Falcons mens's water polo is looking to improve off their fifth place finish last year in the WWPA, Preseason predictions have the Falcons finishing fourth place behind Loyola Marymount, UC-San Diego and UC-Davis. In the preseason polls Air Force was ranked No. 16, and by going by history the Falcons will nearly always be ranked anywhere from No. 15 to 20 in the polls.
This Falcons team however is looking for big things as they return six of their seven starters from last years team that went 11-18. Plus, they return their top eight point scorers. The one starter that was lost came at the goal keeping position as Danny Harold graduate, and the 2012 starter is not new to being in the cage, as Mike Fish was the teams starter in 2010.
The leading returning players on offense are seniors Cruz Smithson, Dillon Fisher and then there is junior Josh Stedman. Smithson led Air Force in both goals and total points scored last year, while Fisher led the team in assists. As for Stedman, he was a first-team All-WWPA selection last season, and was second on the team in goals and points as well as a defensive force that led the team in steal.
The Falcons are coached by Jeff Heidmous who is the teams the winningest coach in program history, and Heidmous returned to coach the bench to be the Air Force head coach back in 2010 after spending the previous 11 years working in the Air Force athletic department.
This is Heidmous' 19th year coach Air Force and during that time he holds a 256-237-1 record, and all 19 of his teams finished the season ranked, 15 times they have finished in the top-15, and five times in the top-10. His most dominant years were between 1988 through 1996 where he led Air Force to nine straight WWPA championship games, winning two and making four NCAA Championship tournaments.
With so many returning players the goal for Air Force is to finish at worst in the top four of league play, and challenge the top two teams for a potential NCAA tournament berth.