SIU’s Flying Salukis finish in the top 5 in the country for the 13th year


Led by Wendy Elliott and Ben Morris, the SIU Carbondale Flying Salukis finished in the top 5 in the nation for a 13th year at the recent National Intercollegiate Flying Association Championships.

May 23, 2022

SIU’s Flying Salukis finish in the top 5 in the country for the 13th year

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Flying Salukis continued to be a consistent powerhouse in collegiate aviation with a fifth-place finish at the recent National Intercollegiate Flying Association championships.

Coach Nathan J. Lincoln, a lecturer in aviation management and flight at the School of Flight, was pleased with the performance and optimistic about the team’s future. The team tied for fifth with the US Air Force Academy in the May 9-14 competition. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott took the title in the 28-team event.

“I’m so happy with how our very junior squad performed during the week,” Lincoln said, noting that only one or two students on the 15-member squad had previous national competitive experience. The 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic and the 2021 event was held virtually.

“The ability to stay in the top 5 for 13 years is an impressive feat,” Lincoln said. “We have an amazing flight program and talented flight team members here at SIU. It just shows the strength of our program compared to other college aviation programs.

Solid base

Lincoln was especially pleased that the Flying Salukis were third in the judges’ trophy category. The category awards points to all team members who competed, whether or not they finished among the competition’s top 20 scorers in each event.

“The third place judges trophy shows that the quality of our entire team is one of the best in the country. I look forward to what they will accomplish in the future,” he said.

The results are available on the NIFA website.

Wendy Elliott, an aviation management senior from Boulder, Colorado, was the ninth overall contender with 66 points, and was the Flying Salukis’ top scorer and top female pilot. Co-captain Benjamin Morris, a May 2022 graduate of Carbondale, was the team’s second-highest scorer with 55 points and 15th overall.

The other Flying Salukis that scored points are:

  • Grant Gillespie, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Fort Worth, Texas, 35 points; tied for 33rd place.
  • Dayne Snodgrass, junior, aviation management and flight, Byron, Illinois, 32 points; tied for 39th place.
  • Thomas Edgar, senior, piano performance and aviation flight, St. Charles, Illinois, 18 points; tied for 66th place.
  • Sydney Reijmer, May 2022 graduate, Aviation Management and Flight, Barrington, Illinois, 12 points; tied for 83rd place.
  • Samuel Cogan, senior, aviation management and flight, Alton, Illinois, 11 points; tied for 85th place.
  • Noah Ciocca, junior, aviation management and flight, Morton, Ill., 11 points, tied for 85th.
  • Angelina Kapp, co-captain, May 2022 graduate, aviation technology, aeronautical flight and environmental sustainability, Western Springs, Illinois, 8 points, tied for 97th.
  • Amelia Anderson, senior, aviation management and flight, Johnston City, Ill., 5 points, tied for 132nd.

Additional Flying Salukis are:

  • Derrick Crider, senior, aeronautical flight and economics, Wheaton, Illinois.
  • Dale Miller, junior, aviation management and flight, Highland, Illinois.
  • Krzysztof Skubisz, senior, economic and aeronautical flight, Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
  • Matteus Thompson, senior, aviation technology and aeronautical flight, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Joshua Weyers, May 2022 Graduate, Aviation Management and Flight, Canton, Illinois.

Special visit

Among the special guests accompanying the team at the May 14 banquet was Aymee Zimmerman, the mother of Flying Saluki team member Joseph Ermel. A sophomore in aviation technology and aviation flight from Downers Grove, Illinois, Ermel died in October 2021, shortly after the team won a 10th consecutive Region VIII championship to qualify for the national championships.

“It was a heartwarming experience to be able to share the experience of the banquet with her,” Lincoln said. “The team was happy that she was able to travel to be part of everyone’s experience.”

Assistant coaches and varsity support play a key role

Elliott and Snodgrass will be team captains next fall. Lincoln thanked assistant coaches Mike LeFevre, Matthew Santos and Gavin Voris — all aviation school assistant instructors and Flying Saluki alumni — for helping the team prepare for the competition.

“We have an incredible support structure that enables our continued success,” Lincoln said.

“Without their help in preparing a team, none of our successes are possible. We are also grateful for the support of the university management, which allows us to present our incredible program and our students.

Wendy Elliott

Wendy Elliott

Ben Morris

Ben Morris

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