Gymnasts make jump to Division I

For more photos of the Seawolves Green & Gold Intrasquad meet on Saturday, Dec. 5, click here!

It’s not just another new season for the UAA gymnastics team.

It’s a completely new identity. They are no longer the Division II Seawolves. Meet the Division I Seawolves.

In compliance with Title IX, gymnastics has completed the overhaul to a full DI status in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. They join hockey as one of only two DI team at UAA. That means more scholarships, more gymnasts and higher standards.

“They know the expectations are higher, they know the competition is tougher and those are two big sources of pressure right there,” UAA head coach Paul Stoklos said.

But if they show improvement like they did last season, the Seawolves may surprise their new opponents. Last year, UAA shattered school records practically every weekend, setting 10 new team records and six individual ones.

Leading the way will be sophomore Dominique Ingram, who comes off the best freshman season in Seawolf history. She captured national titles on two of the four exercises at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships last March. She scored a 9.925 on the vault and 9.9 on the floor exercise while solidifying her position as the team’s best gymnast.

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“Skillwise, she has the highest level of difficulty,” Stoklos said. “We want her to have a better season. And she has a season of collegiate competition under her belt.”

Ingram twice broke the school record for the most points in the all-around and holds the record at 39.125. She broke her own school record on the vault six times.

The Seawolves, though, will have to overcome several significant departures. All-American Mandy Burdick graduated after a stellar four-year career in which she was one of UAA’s top gymnasts. Also leaving after her first year is Brianna Thomas, who set the school’s season-average record on beam. And highly touted recruit Amanda Stefani quit the team only a few weeks before the opening intrasquad meet.

Still, Stoklos sees two key newcomers with the potential to fill those positions, Jamie Burton and Jessica Portlock. Burton joins from Owassa, Okla., where she was the level 10-state champion on the floor exercise in 2003 and then beam in 2004.

Portlock is a local product from Dimond High School that Stoklos has had his eye on for years.

“She is very talented and very strong,” Stoklos said. “Our job is to show her how successful and talented she is.”

Along with Ingram, another top returner looks to be Amanda Kolosovsky. The senior became an All-American for the first time last season in vault and set several career highs on almost all her events. Stoklos says she has had a strong summer of training and it showed Dec. 5 as she finished with the top all-around score of 37.075.

“Mandy has really been focused,” Stoklos said. “She wants to make the final year of her career great.”

It still may be a while before the Seawolves can be contenders in DI with the likes of Stanford and UCLA, who have sent gymnasts to the elite level and as far as the Olympics.

“We can compete within our own conference,” Stoklos said. “Then we can move up in the region closer to the best teams. The goal this season is to qualify for the regional meet.”