In the midst of a mid-year break, the athletes of UAA kept busy with training and competitions. At the busiest point of the athletic year, seven different UAA teams were active in competition.
While both basketball teams and the hockey team were already well into their seasons, skiing, gymnastics and track were just making their 2018-19 season debuts.
The team used the break to compete in four different games. The Seawolves started the break off by hosting two home games, one on Jan. 3 against Western Oregon and the other on Jan. 5 against Concordia.
Both games resulted in wins for the Seawolves. Against WOU, UAA won at 61-57 and then again at 75-66 against CU. Sjur Berg and Tyler Brimhall made significant contributions to the wins.
Berg contributed a team-high 18 points against WOU, while Brimhall accumulated the high against CU with 22 points.
The team continued on to capture two out-of-state losses against Saint Martin’s on Jan. 10 and Seattle Pacific on Jan. 12.
Both losses were close. UAA lost by just two points to SMU with a score of 70-68, and 13 points to SPU at 87-74.
Similar to the men’s, the women’s team also competed in four games during the break. In contrast to the men, however, the women came out of the break with four wins.
All four of their games were home games, played at the Alaska Airlines Center. The first two games were won against Simon Fraser (70-55) and Western Washington (68-50) on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5, respectively.
Safiyyah Yasin helped the Seawolves win the first two games by contributing 20 and 16 points. Hannah Wandersee also stood out with 17 points against WWU.
The women finished off the break with games against UAF (81-70) on Jan. 8 and Montana State Billings (87-42) on Jan. 10.
Again, Wandersee made several standout efforts by contributing the team-high points during both games, with 17 in each.
Nordic and Alpine Skiing
The ski teams kicked off their season during the week of Jan. 3-8 at the U.S. National Championships in Vermont.
The meet started with the 10K and 15K Classic Individual Start. On the women’s side, Michaela Keller-Miller (34:54) and Jenna DiFolco (34:58) were the top UAA finishers at 54th and 55th, respectively. With a time of 45:33, James Schoonmaker was the top male finisher at 60th.
The team continued on with the sprints. Casey Wright finished as the top female at 25th, while Tracen Knoop finished at 57th for the men.
As for alpine, the team competed in the giant slalom. Didrik Nilsen finished second overall in the men’s field with a time of 1:52.16. Li Djurestaal finished sixth overall (2:00.35) in the women’s field.
The UAA men’s hockey team played in six games over the break, resulting in six losses. The Seawolves are ranked last in their conference out of 10 teams, with just two wins overall and 19 losses.
The team played two games against Omaha on Dec. 29-31, with a 0-3 loss and a 0-4 loss. The next two games against Lake Superior State took place on Jan. 4-5, with a 2-5 loss and a 1-3 loss. The Seawolves finished off the break against Northern Michigan with a 1-5 and a 1-4 loss.
The women’s gymnastics team kicked off their season debut with a home meet against Illinois State. The two teams competed twice, once on Jan. 4 and again on Jan. 6.
While the Seawolves lost the first meet (192.975 – 188.925), they redeemed themselves the following meet with a win (192.350 – 189.275).
During the first meet, team highs were solidified by Isabelle Fox in both vault (9.625) and floor (9.800), Sophia Hyderally in bars (9.700) and Hope Nelson on beam (9.750).
In the second meet, Fox scored the high in vault (9.700) and floor (9.825) and Hyderally in bars (9.800) and beam (9.825).
Track and Field
The runners, throwers and jumpers of UAA began their season at the UW Indoor Preview on Jan. 12.
Making her debut on the team and placing at No. 5 overall was Tylantiss Atlas, who ran the 400-meter in 58.42 seconds.
Returner Akeilia Knight placed seventh in the 600-meter (1:33.43) out of a field of 32 runners. Another returner, Danielle McCormick, placed fourth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:11.32.
Previous national champion, Caroline Kurgat, placed third overall in the 3,000-meter with a time of 9:07.05, which broke the Division II all-time record by over two seconds. The previous mark was set in 1983.
As for the men’s team, returner Felix Kemboi finished 30th in the 3,000-meter with a provisional qualifying mark of 8:20.94. Jumpers Brandon Nicholson and Christopher Brake placed seventh and eighth in the triple jump, respectively.