Seawolf gymnasts happy, not complacant

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Photos courtesy of Michael Dinneen

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.

Despite the early signs of success, UAA has yet to put together a full meet that lives up to their goals.

“We’re running a little over two points short of where we want to be,” said UAA Head Coach Paul Stoklos. “We just have to do what we’re doing in practice in front of the judges.”

The Seawolves have yet to average above their target score of 190.00, yet various team members have posted head turning scores and the whole team has been working through minor injuries.

Although injuries are no stranger to gymnastics, UAA’s team has had untimely ones this season, according to Coach Stoklos. The Seawolves lost one of their newest members when freshman Chelsey Baker badly injured her knee in the Green and Gold Intra Squad meet. Most of the other injuries have been minor like a pulled muscle, a jammed knee, and an extremely sore elbow from a bad fall in the first meet. The team is working through the pain and focused on improving after full recovery.

“If you try a difficult skill on beam and crash on the beam it is going to hurt,” said Stoklos. “Best way to avoid injuries is to be in the best shape possible, use drills to prepare the athlete to perform the difficult skills and rest when needed.”

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After recovering from an injury last year, UAA sophomore gymnast Melissa Doucette received the co-Gymnast of the Week for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation after she delivered back-to-back solid performances in Maryland and Towson. Doucette posted career, and UAA season-high, all-around scores in the tournaments with 38.375 and 38.400, respectively.  She also set or tied career-high scores on the bars (9.65), floor (9.775) and balance beam (9.375). The MPSF also recognized Doucette for earning the best averages in the conference for all-around with 38.131 and for vault with 9.631 throughout her last four meets.

“This year she is really kind of coming into her own,” Stoklos said. “She’s been really hungry and aggressive at trying to bring her score up and I think she has her eye set on breaking the all-around record.”

UAA’s all-around record of 39.125 was set by Dominique Ingram at the MPSF Championships in 2004. Ingram was also a national champion that year in both Vault and Floor exercises.

Other Seawolves proving that they are worth their weight in green and gold are freshmen Jeanette Conrad and Morgan Cook. Conrad has posted high all-around scores in Maryland on Jan. 20 with a 37.025 and on Jan. 10 on home turf against SUNY Cortland with a 37.700. Cook also scored well in Maryland on Jan. 20 with an all-around score of 36.225 and earned the high score on balance beam in the Jan. 10 meet. Conrad and Cook joined Doucette in the Top Five All-Around scores in Maryland on Jan. 20.

“Freshmen are really pumping up this team right now, sometimes you don’t know what you will get with the incoming freshmen but when you look at who is posting the scores so far this year the freshmen are doing very well,” Stoklos said.

Senior Kathleen Mantell stated that she thinks just getting over 190.00 is the toughest part and once the Seawolves break that barrier as a team it will be easier to maintain that higher average.

Photos courtesy of Michael Dinneen

“As a whole, I think we’re really doing good and we’ve come together as a team,” Mantell said. “We should have the whole team back really soon and we’ll be able to concentrate on getting and keeping our score higher.”

The Seawolves will take their can-do attitude to Denver, Colorado on Feb. 4 for a meet against the Denver Pioneers. It will be another chance to gain steam as the team looks to capture its ultimate goal come March.

“I know we can get it together it’s just a matter of the timing and when we get it together,” Stoklos said. “What we need is to put this all together in time to win the Conference meet.