The Aggies entered the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships as the favorites, looking to defend their title from a season ago.
Unfortunately for UC Davis, that wasn’t the case. The Aggies finished third with a score of 191.425, losing to Alaska Anchorage (192.825) and rival Seattle Pacific (191.700). Host Air Force was fourth (191.050).
“We knew that Alaska was coming on strong, but Seattle Pacific had a great day and did an amazing job,” said coach John Lavallee. “We were in the driver’s seat, but had too many problems on our last event [bars] to hold our lead.“
Some of those problems may have been due to the Aggie gymnasts having something else of importance on their mind: finals.
UC Davis was the only school that was in the process of finals at the Mar. 20 meet.
“We were really stressed out from being in the middle of finals week,” said senior co-captain Andi Dolinsky. “Some of us had to take finals in the hotel just that morning. I had to arrive to the meet later than the rest of the team because I was taking an online final in the hotel room. I literally finished minutes before the warm up started.“
The stress seemed to catch up with the Aggies by the time they took the bars.
“We had been consistent on bars this year, so I was confident,” said junior Kendall McCann. “Things obviously didn’t go as planned.
“I think the team just wasn’t as dialed in as we should have been. People didn’t have enough confidence. Once one person fell, I think the team had a hard time keeping the energy up to try and bring it back.“
Despite this stress, Dolinsky was still able to put up a strong performance on floor, finishing third with a score of 9.775. This, coupled with her overall season, led to her again being named MPSF Gymnast of the Year. She also won the award in 2007.
“I felt good about how my performance went,” said Dolinsky. “It was probably one of my better routines this season, even if it wasn’t my highest score.“
The Aggies‘ lone win came in the vault, where sophomore Stacey Nicolini posted a score of 9.800 to tie for first. Her season-high score moved her into a tie for second on the seasonal conference list. Juniors Tanya Ho (9.725) and Michelle Bobonski (9.700) followed Nicolini, helping the Aggies to their highest vault score of the season (48.600).
“I have been waiting for us to perform like that on vault,” said Lavallee. “We just had not gotten everyone together on the same day on vault this year. It was very exciting to watch.“
McCann put forth one of the most solid nights for the Aggies as she scored on beam (9.725), floor (9.750) and bars (9.500).
“I felt like I ended the season on such a good note because this year I really focused on building my confidence with each meet,” said McCann. “I convinced myself it was ‘easy,‘ and that helps me to remain confident.
“I was particularly excited about floor because I tied my career high at the most important meet of the year.“
Two freshmen showed that the future of Aggie gymnastics is bright. Jennifer Mueller scored a 9.725 on floor and a 9.225 on beam, while Erika Van Dyke scored a 9.675 on floor and went 9.750 on the beam.
“This first season as an Aggie has been incredible,” said Van Dyke. “It was amazing to be a part of this team, and I can’t wait for three more years of UC Davis gymnastics.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at email@example.com.