Healthy gymnasts cover for injured teammates

Plagued with sore backs, hips and sprained ankles, the UAA Gymnastics team left Jan. 19 for Seattle to compete in its first away meet of the 2006 season against Seattle Pacific University.

The team traveled without sophomore Jamie Burton, who sprained her ankle Jan. 15 before UAA’s home duel meet against the Air Force Academy (W 187.250 _” 154.825).

“I think it scared me more than anything because I heard kind of like a pop, and I was a little bit nervous,” Burton said. “Plus, I knew we had a meet coming up this weekend.”

In Division I gymnastics, the top five competition scores count towards the team’s point total, but UAA has only six girls who compete in the floor exercise.

With Burton unable to compete, UAA would have taken a zero for its fifth score, had it not been for junior Dominique Ingram.

“Jamie got hurt and Dominique walked up about a minute later and said ‘I’ll do floor,'” Coach Paul Stoklos said.

The team has six gymnasts who compete in the floor exercise, five of whom were slated to compete Jan. 15. However, Stoklos said he was keeping Ingram out of the floor exercise rotation to help her rest.

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“She’s one of our best (floor workers), but we were trying to spare her. She’s got some hip injury problem that’s bugging her,” Stoklos said. “-We were kind of giving her a break, letting her rest, but she came through, did her part so we could get her score.”

Ingram scored 9.250 in her floor exercise routine, lower than her 9.745 average for the 2005 season.

“We needed someone else to do floor,” Ingram said in regards to taking Burton’s place after the sprain. “Jamie got hurt and I felt I needed to step up to help my team out.”

Burton said she wasn’t surprised by Ingram’s decision to compete in her place.

“I know her hip’s been bothering her, but she understands that without her we only had four people on floor,” Burton said. “I’m not surprised that Dominique did it. Of all people, I would expect Dominique.”

Ingram’s hip is one of the few aches starting to bother the gymnasts. Both junior Tiffany Staton and freshman Lauren Agostino have old injuries; Staton has been practicing in a knee brace and Agostino has undergone pain-relief treatments for her back.

Co-captain Amanda Keever also has a chronic skin condition that causes blisters, and ices her feet after each practice.

Stoklos said in an earlier interview that the team is healthy, and _” fortunately _” only a small number of injuries. It was this fact that contributed to UAA’s 34.425 victory Jan. 15 over the Air Force Academy.

UAA sophomore Jessica Portlock and freshman Agostino, who tied with an all-around score of 37.800, bested Air Force’s highest scoring all-around competitor, Lauren Robison, who scored a 36.800.

Five of the UAA gymnasts’ 23 scores were below 9.000, but the Air Force team had 14 of 19 scores below 9.000, including a 0.000 in vault from Mary Barrett.

Athletic trainer Chris Volk said Burton’s injury will take three months to fully heal, but Burton should be ready to compete by Feb. 3 against UAA’s second away meet against Boise State University.

“Right now, because it’s so new, (it’s) mostly just the “rice” routine _” rest, ice, compression, elevation _” and exercise,” Volk said. “She’s doing isometrics, and then she rides a bike and swims. We don’t want to do any weight-bearing activity.”

Although Burton didn’t travel with the team to Seattle for its first away-meet of the season, she said she is eager to compete in Feb.

“By the next meet, Feb. 4, I’ll be ready to go,” Burton said. “We’ve got a week off, so I guess I picked a good time.”