Category: Gymnastics

February 27, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
Goalie Olivier Mantha makes a save during the game against UAF on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Photo credit: Adam Eberhardt

UAA has two Division I teams: Hockey and gymnastics, but hockey was not always a D-I sport.

According to UAA Athletic Director Keith Hackett, hockey became a Division I sport in the ’80s after Division II hockey was eliminated as a sport at that level by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“The options available to UAA at the time were to move to Division I or Division III. UAA chose to move up in the level of competition to Division I,” Hackett said.

Matt Thomas is the head coach of Seawolf Hockey, and he says that there really is no other division for UAA to compete, except at the top level.

“There wasn’t enough schools that supported [Division II hockey], so you either compete at the Division I or the Division III level in hockey. We wouldn’t have a conference that we’d be able to go into. There’s no Division III programs out west,” Thomas said. “We wouldn’t have a conference to go to. Nobody would accept us. They pushed so hard back in the ’80s to go Division I because that was the only conference they could go into because of those teams. Division I teams, they travel. We travel quite a bit and that’s why we need it for Alaska.”

Hackett said there are several differences between Division I and II sports, and while UAA offers two Division I sports, the school is still recognized by the NCAA as a Division II school.

“Some of those differences include numbers of permissible scholarships available, size of coaching staffs, recruiting rules and regulations, level of competition, etc.,” Hackett said. “Chief among these requirements is a desire to make a commitment to developing a program that can be competitive at the highest level in college sports through competitive facilities, salaries and the support services needed to build a winning program… Up until a few short years ago, UAA did not have these kinds of necessities for our Division I programs to compete at the Division I level on a consistent basis. Competing at the Division I level takes a significant commitment of human and physical resources.”

Thomas said that the team and the scholarships it would be able to offer would be greatly affected by a different division and that only local students would come for the sport.

“There are no scholarships in Division III. You’d only have one comprised of… Well, it depends, you’d still have teams,” Thomas said. “From a scholarship standpoint, you can probably get Alaskans to play because they’d probably be here but I don’t know how many out of state people come up here. I think a lot of Division III schools people go there, they’re regional, they live in that area.”

The overall cost of athletics would be reduced if UAA didn’t offer Division I sports, Hackett said, but that many of the costs would stay the same regardless of division.

“[Without Division I sports] we would have to add programs to meet our NCAA minimum requirements to be a D-II member and to maintain our compliance with Title IX,” Hackett said. “A majority of our costs are travel related. When you have to fly to every competition, there are significant costs involved. Sponsoring Athletics is an expensive proposition but an important one for most institutions.”

Dede Allen, the associate director of Athletics, is the designated Gender Equity Coordinator for athletic programs and Title IX issues. All divisions are subject to the same Title IX regulations, Allen said.

“Title IX’s intent is simple; provide participation opportunities and athletic grant-in-aid in a gender equitable manner,” Allen said. “Any institution that receives federal funding is subject to Title IX, therefore the NCAA Division I, II or III is irrelevant. The details of how gender equity is achieved can be complicated. Title IX gives us guidance in the operation the department of athletics and it is our responsibility to make decisions in a gender neutral manner.”

Some issues that Allen focuses on are equipment and supplies, travel and per diem allowance, coaches, services, facilities, publicity, recruitment and scheduling of games and practice times.

Hockey costs more than gymnastics, and Allen said that budgets don’t need to match up as long as decisions about the teams are made without a consideration of gender.

“This doesn’t mean that we are required to spend dollar for dollar the same on men’s and women’s sports, only that decisions are made in a gender neutral manner…[For example,] gymnastics uniforms and equipment are less expensive than hockey uniforms and equipment,” Allen said.

Hackett said that there have been no further discussions to eliminate any athletic teams at UAA since Nov. 2016, and that talk of transitioning into a Division II school isn’t very serious.

“If we were to make a decision to move solely to a D-II Conference there would need to be a careful review of what that would look like and what sports might be considered for expansion,” Hackett said. “At this time there has been no serious discussion about this topic. Many of our costs would remain the same because of the huge amount of travel we already have based on our geographic location in Alaska.”

Allen said that outside of Title IX requirements, cutting or transitioning divisions also means discussing NCAA requirements.

“There are other considerations like NCAA membership requirements and Conference sport offerings, in addition to Title IX, when determining sport sponsorship,” Allen said. “While dropping a male sport may not hurt our gender equity position, it may put us in jeopardy with NCAA or Great Northwest Athletic Conference rules.”

If UAA were to cut hockey, Allen said that there may not be an immediate Title IX issue, but NCAA rules require a minimum of 10 sports, and GNAC membership requires offering specific sports such as basketball and cross country.

February 20, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
madeline arbuckle, skip hickey: uc davis.jpg
Madeline Arbuckle preforms her floor routine in a meet against UC Davis at the Alaska Airlines Center. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

Already five meets into the season before the UC Davis meet, the Seawolves have received variable results from week to week, but the gymnasts, including junior Kendra Daniels, can barely keep up with the quick season.

“It has flown by. Pre-season felt like it was dragging on and the team was ready to compete, it’s hard to think we only have a couple more meets and then it’s over,” Daniels said.

The began with a rocky start in the Northeast in early January with two back to back losses in the Virginia opener and Maryland quad meet, neither time breaking a score of 188 when their goal is always 190.

However, soon after, things started looking positive in the mid-season for the Seawolves. Although neither meet produced a score of 190, the gymnasts secured two wins with their home field advantage. Wisconsin-Stout joined the Seawolves at the Alaska Airlines Center for two separate meets that allowed the gymnasts to score the previous season high score of 189.350.

Not long after, the team performed the current season high score of 190.900, finally bypassing the 190 barrier — In Sacramento against the Hornets. Although it was a season high, the meet still resulted in a loss behind Sacramento’s 194.900.

Although they pulled off what they wanted, head coach Paul Stoklos reflected that it wasn’t under the best circumstances.

“We had our season high score and we walked away from that really quite happy because we had two of our competitors out of our lineup, one go out with an injury during the event, and one out with the flu right before… but we still pulled it off,” Stoklos said.

These meets lead the Seawolves to the weekend of Feb. 17-19 in Davis, California with a record of two wins and three losses.

Only five meets in and five meets left, the team realized how important these upcoming meets were.

“We are at the halfway point of the season, both time wise and competition wise… but everyone is really stepping up and doing a great job,” said head coach Stoklos.

The meet proved to be rather successful for individual gymnasts but lacked with the overall team score.

Standout junior Madeleine Arbuckle, a Winnipeg local, secured her career-best score of 38.000 all-around with an impressive 9.625 in floor being the highest of all her events.

Arbuckle also boasted a score of 9.500 in uneven bars, just barely edging past her previous season record of 9.425. In addition, her beam score of 9.575 lead her to a three-way tie with senior Brice Mizell and sophomore Kaylin Mancari who shared fifth place in beam.

The only other all-arounder on UAA’s side was junior Morgan Ross. The Reno, NV local just barely fell behind Arbuckle with a final score of 37.625. Securing top UAA performances in vault with a score of 9.625 and in floor with 9.800, putting her at second place in the floor exercise.

Ross wasn’t the only one able to succeed in floor, Daniels — who only began floor in college — was able to pull through for a tie for third with a score of 9.750.

“I had always wanted to do floor, and turned out it was one of my better events in college so being able to help out with that is amazing,” Daniels said.

kendra daniels:skip hickey: sacramento.jpg
Kendra Daniels leaping up in her beam routine during a home meet at the Alaska Airlines Center. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

In addition, the Seawolves produced a season-best team total on uneven bars resulting in a score of 46.975. The uneven bars was led by senior Nicole Larkin, although scoring an impressive 9.700, it only put her at sixth overall, followed by freshman Mackenzie Miller (9.525) and Arbuckle, in eighth and ninth respectively.

Overall, the gymnasts performed exceptionally well as individuals, but it wasn’t enough to surpass UC Davis’ score of 194.900 while the Seawolves fell behind 189.350.

With a second chance to redeem themselves, the Seawolves rematched the Aggies on Sunday, Feb. 19. After returning to Alaska, the gymnasts will have several weeks off before returning to competition at home joined by Centenary College of Louisiana at the Alaska Airlines Center on Mar. 3-5.

“With so many meets in such a short amount of time… we cram it all into a 10-11 period week of time, but i know it every year and warn the athletes every year it’ll be over before [we] know it,” Stoklos said.

Quickly afterwards, the gymnasts head to the Conference Championships when it seemed to be just the beginning of their season.

January 31, 2016 Nolin Ainsworth
Photo credit: Inna Mikhailova

The UAA Gymnastics squad hosts their first home meet of the season this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Alaska Airlines Center when they entertain the Brigham Young University Cougars. The meet will mark the third time the team has competed this season. The Seawolves hosted a Green-and-Gold intra-squad scrimmage in mid-December before flying to Ohio for a January 23 dual-meet with the Bowling Green Falcons. Despite losing the meet 194.075-191.500, several Seawolves performed up to their potential.

Junior Julia York competed in the beam and floor events in Bowling Green, two events in which the Seawolves have deepest reserves. Despite the stiff competition among her teammates, York remains optimistic about her events.

“I started to go downhill and I wasn’t making my routines and I didn’t know why,” York said. “Then I just realized I wasn’t being confident and that changed everything.”

The team is comprised of 17 members this season after welcoming four freshmen to the team, including Kierra Abraham, Morgan Colee, Erica Man, and Kaylin Mancari. The whole roster is expected to compete this weekend.

For the Seawolves to be successful this season, gymnastics coach Paul Stoklos said they will need to improve on one event in particular.

“Bars is our toughest event. We have people who can’t do bars anymore who came in as bar workers and so were really limited in our depth,” Stoklos said. “Whereas on some of the other events we have maybe 8 or 9 people.”

Senior M’rcy Matsunami will be one of the Seawolves competing in the bars, along with the vault, beam, and floor exercise. As the only UAA gymnast to qualify for last season’s NCAA West Regional tournament as an all-arounder, the Nebraska native has plenty of reasons to be eager for one last season with the Seawolves.

“I’m really excited for this season, also really sad because I’ve been doing gymnastics for 21 years, since I’ve been born,” Matsunami said. “After I’m done, its just going to be a shock, I think.”

After this weekend, the Seawolves will only have two more home meets, on March 11 and 13 against conference-rival Air Force.

UAA students taking 6 or more credits get in free to all home UAA athletic events. For more on the gymnastics team, visit

January 24, 2016 Nolin Ainsworth

Updated last Saturday, January 23, 2016 After a whole semester of pre-season training and three weeks of practice we finally reached the week of our first road trip. We compete Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio. Because it takes a few days for our bodies to adjust to a different time zone, we boarded a plane…

January 12, 2015 Adam Eberhardt

The UAA gymnastics team started its first season in the Alaska Airlines Center with two strong victories against Winona State University. UAA beat Winona State 191.550-178.450 last Thursday and 192.250-185.275 last Saturday. On Thursday night M’rcy Matsunami placed first in all events except the floor in which she scored second. Kallie Randolph won the floor…

April 29, 2014 TNL Staff

Courtesy: UAA Sports Information ANCHORAGE – Sophomore Stefany Bryan was named the Alaska Anchorage gymnastics team’s 2014 MVP on Thursday night as the Seawolves celebrated with their year-end banquet at Lone Star Steakhouse. Bryan was an NCAA Div. I West Regional Championships all-around qualifier and earned All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors in the all-around and on uneven…

March 4, 2014 Travis Dowling

March 1, 2014

In the final event at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex last Sunday, the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves competed against the Lindenwood University Lions in a gymnastics meet. Freshman Julia York posted a score of 9.675 on the vault. The Seawolves lost the vault event to the Lions by a score of 48.450 to 47.850.

January 29, 2013 Keon McMillan

The Seawolves pulled off a win despite a close scoring margin in Friday’s gymnastics meet against the Seattle Pacific Falcons. Freshman gymnast M’rcy Matsunami was a stunner in this one, leading the ‘Wolves to a 191.675-191.575 victory.

April 3, 2012 Ashley Smith

UAA may know Paul Stoklos as being the Seawolf Gymnastics coach since the program began in 1985 but he has a hobby that he is just as passionate about away from the mats and bars.

“When I got into ski patrolling here somebody told me, ‘well there’s this guy who’s a ski patrol instructor’ and that was Bill Tai, who was my link into Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs,” Stoklos said.

February 21, 2012 Taylor Hall

TNL Sports Editor, Taylor Hall, does a Q&A with UAA Gymnast, Melissa Doucette.
How did you get started in gymnastics?
It was in a “Mommy and Me” class. I saw others doing it and decided I wanted to join in on it.

January 31, 2012 Ashley Smith

The Seawolves’ gymnastics team has the skill, attitude, and determination to come out on top of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference, and from the looks of it are already vaulting toward that goal.

The UAA gymnasts are averaging about the same scores as they did last season at this point. Recently took 2nd place at a tournament in Towson, Md. Earlier in the year, they tumbled past the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons for two home wins.