Alaska political leaders honor Seawolf teams
UAA men’s and women’s basketball teams were honored on April 4 with citations in the State House and State Senate for their remarkable, history-making seasons that concluded last week with play for both squads in the Final Four round of the NCAA Division II Championships.
Four members of the men’s team and four from the women’s team were introduced on the floor of each chamber. The UAA men included seniors Carl Arts, Chris Bryant, Luke Cooper and McCade Olsen. The women were seniors Maria Nilsson, Kalhie Quinones and Jennifer Salazar, and junior Rebecca Kielpinski. UAA Chancellor and former Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer escorted the eight.
The seniors have all played their last hoops game for UAA. Those games ended in a pair of defeats on Thursday, March 27, in Kearney, Neb., for the women and Springfield, Mass., for the men. But despite losing in the semifinals, the squads made history this season in numerous categories. 2008 was the first year a UAA women’s team had won the Regional championship and advanced to the Elite Eight and then the Final Four. The men had done it once, in 1988.
UAA’s hoops teams are the only Alaska Clubs ever to play at such a level, and UAA is only the second Division II school in history to send both its men’s and women’s teams to the Final Four in the same year (the other, Central Missouri State, did it in 1984 and won both championships).
Later in the afternoon after Alaska lawmakers paused to honor eight of the finest athletes to play for a state team, the Seawolf players visited a local elementary school for a “Reading with the Seawolves.”
Six Seawolf gymnasts make All-Conference team
UAA gymnasts Kristy Boswell, Kelsey Fullerton, Brooke Nall, Jessica Portlock, Courtney Williams and Leah Wilson were all honored Tuesday as the Seawolves’ representatives on the 2008 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Conference Team.
Portlock, a senior from Anchorage, was UAA’s most decorated gymnast, earning all-conference spots on all three of her events – vault, bars and floor. It was the eighth, ninth and 10th such career honors for Portlock, who had the MPSF’s second-best vault regional qualifying score (9.75) in 2008.
Williams, a sophomore, was the Seawolves’ all-league honoree in the all-around for the second straight year with a 37.485 RQS.
The rest of UAA’s all-league gymnasts were first-time award winners – Nall and Wilson on beam, Boswell on bars and Fullerton on floor.
The All-MPSF teams recognize the gymnasts with the top eight regional qualifying scores on each event.
High ranking for Seawolves in Director’s Cup standings
UAA ranks 32nd in the U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup standings for NCAA Division II after the recent conclusion of the winter championships season.
The ranking is the Seawolves’ highest ever after the winter sports season. UAA’s previous best standing at this point was 43rd place in 1995-96, the inaugural year of Directors’ Cup competition at the Division II level.
UAA’s current standing comes on the strength of just three sports as it gained 83 points apiece from men’s and women’s basketball for their national semifinal appearances, plus 66 points from skiing for its eighth-place showing.
Grand Valley State (Mich.) leads the current race with 719.25 points.
The U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup is a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s NCAA finish in up to 14 sports – seven
women’s and seven men’s. There are currently 282 schools that compete at the NCAA Division II level.
The final Cup standings will be announced at the conclusion of the spring sports season in June. UAA has two more sports in which it can score points – men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.
UAA’s previous best finish in the final standings was 68th place in 1996-97. The Seawolves were 92nd in 2006-07.