Alaska ended its landmark 2019 season on a high note at the MPSF championship, recording a program record total of 194.200.
“We didn’t know that we did it until the end,” junior Sophia Hyderally said. “So when the coaches did the math and we found out, we all started crying! It was so much emotion.”
The program record was a surprise to many on the team as it followed a difficult start on floor that included a counted fall. But the Seawolves bounced back, beginning with a career high 9.900 for senior Kaylin Mancari’s final routine on that same troubled event. It then put together a near-perfect meet on the final three events that culminated in a program record of 49.075 on beam. It’s only the third time in program history that any Alaska lineup has scored over 49.000.
“I was hoping that it would have happened sooner,” head coach Tanya Ho said about the record score. “But to finally be able to break it our last meet was really exciting. We also didn’t expect to be in the 194s after how we started on floor, but we finished so well on bars and beam.”
The 2019 beam squad has been incredibly successful, finishing the season with a program record NQS on the event and and scoring five of Alaska’s top 10 all-time beam rotation scores. Anchor Hyderally has been a critical factor in the lineup—she finished the season as MPSF beam champion and No. 41 in the nation on the event. Plus, she now owns seven of the top 10 beam scores in school history.
After a knee injury restricted her to bars in 2018, being able to compete three events this year and reclaim the conference beam title that she won as a freshman meant a lot to Hyderally.
“It’s kind of full circle getting to compete beam again,” she said. “It was so much fun this season, and then the cherry on the top at the end was the best feeling.”
Ho knew Hyderally was in contention for a regionals spot on beam throughout the season but chose not to tell her to avoid “getting in her head.” When Hyderally learned for the first time that she had qualified, she burst into tears.
“That’s really cool!” she sniffled. “In your article, you can just write ‘insert crying.’”
Hyderally is the first Seawolf to advance to regionals since M’rcy Matsunami in 2016 and only the 14th all time.
“Since this will be my first time going, I want to stay present in the moment and experience all that excitement and energy,” she said. “Just being around such amazing gymnastics is really what it’s all about.”
Hyderally’s beam hasn’t been the only game-changer for Alaska this year. Her exquisite floor routine, choreographed by assistant coach Alina Cartwright, accumulated over 34,000 views—a lot for a team whose norm sits more in the low hundreds.
“It was kind of unexpected,” Hyderally said. “Coach Al has produced such amazing floor routines for our entire team. When it all blew up, it was a big tribute to her to be able to perform something that she created.“
Cartwright also produces content for the team’s social media. Ho credits that work in large part for the team’s increased visibility in 2019.
“Props to Alina and all her stuff on social media,” Ho said. “She makes all our videos, and I think they’re amazing.”
Ho has a landmark of her own to celebrate this year—she was named MPSF Head Coach of the Year in only her second season at Alaska.
“It was a surprise definitely,” she said, referencing the fact that she beat out not only a previous boss at Sacramento State, where she was formerly an assistant coach, but also her own college coach.
That coach, UC Davis’ John Lavallee, has fond memories of Ho’s days in Davis and isn’t holding a grudge.
“I am incredibly proud,” he said. “What she has done up in Alaska the last couple of years is really amazing, but it doesn’t surprise me at all. Tanya has a great gymnastics brain, she’s a great person and those student-athletes are really benefiting from all of her talent.”
Her effect on the team is undeniable. It finished 2019 with its all-time best team NQS, as well as setting NQS bests on every event but vault. It also added 10 top-10 individual NQS finishes and 14 top-10 single routines to its record books.
Ho credits the improvement in part to having a full summer of preparation with the team—versus last year when she didn’t arrive in Anchorage until August—as well as the benefits of having a full coaching staff of three plus a volunteer, where last year she only had Cartwright and herself.
Perhaps the most important factor is the Seawolves’ faith in themselves though. And their unprecedented results and brand-new status as a gymternet cult favorite can only help.
“They’ve had time to train and buy into this and believe that they can be better,” Ho said. “Ending on this note really helped them. ‘Oh look, we just broke this record, we broke the beam record, we broke the bars record, we’re not last in our conference any more.’ This year did a lot for their confidence.”
Hyderally will compete at the Corvallis regional at 5 p.m. ET Friday.
Article by Rebecca Scally
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