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Freshman M'rcy Matsunami twisted to a 9.7 balance beam score in Friday's dual-meet win over Seattle Pacific.
Courtesy: Sam Wasson/UAA Athletics

Seawolves earn first win over Falcons

Courtesy: UAA Sports Information
Release: 01/25/2013
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ANCHORAGE – Led by a fine all-around performance from freshman M’rcy Matsunami, the Alaska Anchorage gymnastics team made history Friday night with a 191.675-191.575 victory over Seattle Pacific at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

The Seawolves (2-2) also got a career night from junior Emily Petersen as they beat their Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rivals in a dual meet for the first time in 38 tries.

The Falcons (0-3) were led by 37.975 points from all-arounder Sydney Clark, while senior Corrine Wise delivered 9.775s on vault and floor.

UAA earned top-5 all-time team scores on vault (48.500), uneven bars (48.475) and balance beam (48.350) to take a seemingly comfortable 145.325-143.900 lead into the final rotation. The Seawolves struggled on floor, however, and SPU’s Stephanie Wagner nailed a 9.825 on her team’s final beam routine to put the pressure on.

Morgan Cook, a sophomore from Arkansas, answered for UAA in the anchor position with a 9.35 on floor, giving her team its first win over SPU since the formation of the Seawolf program in 1985.

“I’m really pleased with their performance, doing well on those three events,” said UAA head coach Paul Stoklos. “We know our weakness is floor right now, and we will be really focused on improving that aspect of our performance.”

Matsunami, a freshman from Omaha, Neb., started the Seawolves off with a 9.85 on vault, tying the No. 7 score in school history for the second straight meet. In just three meets, the rookie has become just the fourth UAA gymnast to post three vaults of 9.8 or better in her career, joining Dominique Ingram (2004-05), Lauren Agostino (2005-06, 08-09) and Shakea Sanders (2009-12). Matsunami also posted a 9.75 on bars and a 9.7 on beam as she won her first collegiate all-around and equaled the No. 20 score in program history at 38.675.

“M’rcy is obviously just scratching the surface of her ability as a true freshman,” said Stoklos. “She is someone who our fans will really enjoy watching for the next four years. I’m also pleased with the way Emily Petersen is really coming into her own, both as a team leader and with her skill set.”

Petersen, from Indianapolis, nailed all three of her routines, including a career-high 9.825 to win on uneven bars. That score matched the 5th-best bar routine by a Seawolf, while her 9.8 on beam was just shy of a career-high and ties the 9th-best score on that event. The team captain also had a 9.6 on vault.

UAA swept the top three spots on bars, with Petersen, sophomore Paige Pirie (career-high 9.775) and Matsunami (9.75) leading the way.

Cook tied third on both vault and beam with identical 9.7 marks, while the Seawolves also got solid scores from freshman Marie-Sophie Boggasch (9.675 vault, 9.525 bars), sophomore Sariaye Jensen (career-high 9.675 vault), freshman Simone Penker (9.625 beam) and freshman Nicole Wetzel (9.525 beam).

The Seawolves and Falcons are back at the WFSC for the rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. AST.

NOTES: UAA’s 191.675 team total equaled the No. 13 score in program history and set a new record for the month of January for the second straight meet … the 48.500 vault tied for No. 5 on the all-time program list … the 48.475 on bars was No. 3 on the all-time list and broke the record for a home meet, edging the 48.450 score against UC Davis on Jan. 27, 2008 … the Seawolves now have two of their best four balance beam showings ever in the last two meets, getting a 48.350 (No. 4) Friday after their 48.400 (No. 2) at Rutgers on Jan. 12 … Pirie’s 9.775 on bars tied for the No. 17 mark in program history on that apparatus.

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