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Eagle River gymnast ties for national vault title

Van WilliamsAlaska Sports Hall of Fame

Amy Winczura of Eagle River has done the vault literally hundreds of times, but never as well as she did Saturday night in Shreveport, La.

The Texas Woman’s University senior picked the perfect time for her signature moment, earning a career-best score of 9.85 to tie for the vault title at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships Individual Event Finals.

She shared the title with two teammates who are also her roommates.

“It was pretty exciting,” Winczura told me. “After we found out we tied (for the championship), we gave each other the biggest hugs and cried.”

Winczura, of East High fame, was the final of the three Texas Woman's University gymnasts to stick the Yurchenko vault.

“It’s funny because one of my teammates went first and then my other teammate went and my coach says, ‘How sweet would it be if you guys went 1-2-3’ and then after she saw my other teammate got a 9.85 as well, she’s like, ‘Actually how cool would it be if you guys all tied for first.’ And I was like, ‘That would be pretty cool.’ ”

Then she went out and did it.

Talk about pressure.

“It was definitely the best time to do my absolute best,” said Winczura, who has practiced and performed that particular vault since her senior year of high school.

“I’m still in shock.”

It was only 18 months ago that Winczura had surgery on her right shoulder.

“Still a lot of pressure on it, but it feels good so it’s OK,” she said. “Every routine I do is for the team. It’s about going out and having fun and doing your best. I didn’t really put a lot of pressure on myself.”

Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at alaskasportshall@yahoo.com.