Although the UAA gymnastics ended with a split in the two meets against the Air Force, the team stayed strong and ended their regular home season with a win against a conference foe.
On March 14, UAA matched up against the Air Force Falcons at Service High School. The meet was moved to Service because the Men’s West Region Division II tournament was being held at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
UAA was steady and at the top of their game, with several of the Seawolves earning career-high performances. UAA outscored Air Force 191.675-189.550.
Senior Jessica Portlock scored a 9.7 in both her vault and floor events while earning a 9.725 on the bars. Fellow Seawolf Brooke Nall had a personal best on the beam of 9.75.
“I think that when we have our best performance, we’re a 192-point team,” UAA head coach Paul Stoklos said.
The Falcons, hailing from Colorado, had their second best score of the season during their first duel against UAA.
Regardless of the Seawolves’ impressive performances on March 14 that earned them their first home win since the 2005-2006 season, they had a harder time repeating their success on March 16.
Despite Portlock setting a new personal best, the Falcons came out strong with precise routines and few mistakes, squeaking by the Seawolves, 190.975-190.250.
“If we had performed well and lost, that is out of our control,” Stoklos said, “but we made a lot of mistakes that we could control, and that’s really disappointing.”
Although frustrated with the loss, Stoklos still had good things to say about his team and commended athletes such as Meagan Byrne for her consistency.
“She hit her beam really well, and she had a great vault,” he said. “That’s two days in a row, actually, where she had the same score on that vault.”
However, not all the Seawolves were as consistent. Plagued by rough landings on vault and out-of-bounds floor routines, clutch scorers such as Leah Wilson and Kristy Boswell had scores at or around 9.0.
Air Force Academy head coach Doug Day was very satisfied with his team’s performance and said he attributed their highest score of the season all to “having moose for dinner last night.”
The traditional Alaska dish paid off for the Falcons, especially Abigail Rogers, who held the highest scores of the meet in the beam and floor events.
Celebrating the last home meet of their two seniors, the Seawolves were disappointed to lose on senior night, but they remained upbeat about the future.
One of those seniors, Lauren Magiera, had a high 9.65 on her vault. Although she was not originally going to compete on the beam due to having some rough beam practices in the weeks before, Magiera scored second place on the beam with a 9.6.
“We’re just hoping that we can make up for our losses today, work harder and aim for conference,” Magiera said.
Portlock had the highest vault score of the meet, surpassing her previous high score with a 9.85. She stayed positive after the loss, although she said she was sad the regular season was over.
“I’m just happy we’re all safe and healthy and we finished the meet,” Portlock said.
In a post-meet tribute to the Seawolf seniors, Portlock and Magiera were honored with their parents on the floor and presented with flowers. Fellow team members described Portlock as an “intrinsic energy,” while Magiera was said to have “continuous encouragement” for her teammates.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Magiera said, “but I think the last four years have been such a blessing to be able to live in Alaska and be on this team.”
After the loss, Stoklos said the team is looking forward to the conference meet and will be working to fix what they can.
“In particular, one: our tumbling passes; we need to stand them up and stop taking extra steps on them. And two: our balance beams; we need to get back to the real acrobatic skills that we do,” Stoklos said. “We need to push as hard as we can and go into the conference meet and give it our best shot.”