Gymnastics team battles injuries early on, but find positives in season full of obstacles

    Logan Tuttle/TNL

    Last year, UAA’s Gymnastic team had a stellar year ending with a win at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. As defending champions, the bar to perform was set high this year.

    But instead of continuing where they left off, the Gymnastics team got off to a very rough start.

    The beginning of their season was riddled with injuries. Two of the hardest hits felt when last year’s team MVP junior Leah Wilson and junior Kristy Boswell, stars of the uneven bars, went out with season ending ACL tears.

    While the team struggled to replace these two girls on the bars, they were able to perform well on vault, floor and beam.

    With the scores from the uneven bars falling short of last season’s, the other events could not make up the points needed to push UAA to victory in many tightly contested meets.

    “Our scores have not been quite what I would have hoped for. We started out a little behind last season’s scores and have been trying to bring them back up with two athletes out of the line-up that we really were counting on,” head coach Paul Stoklos said.

    Throughout the season, though, the team improved their scores steadily due to new faces stepping up. The likes of senior Meagan Byrne, sophomore Shakea Sanders and senior Courtney Williams continued to get better as the year went on and helped lead the Seawolves find their grip on the year.
    The trio led the ‘Wolves at the season-ending Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships.

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    Byrne set a new career-high on the floor exercise with her score of 9.625. Williams tied her record with a 9.675 on her routine and finished sixth all-around. Sanders, meanwhile, had fantastic marks of 9.75 on both floor and vault.

    Their final team score at the competition was 190.725 points. This mark was better than their original high 190.200 back on Feb. 12. Oddly enough,

    Logan Tuttle/TNL

    that was a mark set by their full team.

    When the MPSF announced their All-Conference Team March 29, six Seawolves were recognized. Sanders and Williams led the way by making it onto two spots on the All-MPSF teams. Sanders by way of vault and floor teams while Williams ended up on the uneven bars and all-around teams.
    Joining them were junior Maria Puricelli (uneven bars), sophomore Kaelei Spoor (floor), sophomore Kelsey Fullerton (floor) and senior Lauren Agostino (balance beam).

    Agostino is no stranger to this sort of honor. Her award this year was her ninth All-MPSF honor, which is the most by any UAA gymnast ever.
    This just goes to show the growth that the Seawolves have experienced despite some growing pains.

    The 2011 season will miss three seniors: Williams, Byrne, and Agostino. And after a year that saw many step up in the absences of stars from last year’s championship team, this can only mean the sun will rise even brighter next season when the ‘Wolves take back to competition in 2011.