La Crosse ranked No. 72 in 2017 and finished second at NCGA championships under first year head coach Kasey Crawford. The team graduates four seniors but will look to a large returning crew, as well as a strong freshmen class, to regain the WIAC and NCGA championships in 2018. While DIII lineups can be notoriously hard to predict, previews can give a good idea of what to look for from the eagles in 2018.
La Crosse finished the season ranked No. 71 on vault. It returns a large number of strong vaulters with Samantha Wiekamp, Dani Barmore and Savannah Farrell all having RQS scores above 9.5. Additionally, each received a score above 9.7 at some point during the season. Other consistent returning vaulters for the Eagles include Leah Spankowski, who scored as high as 9.65. Abby Ostrovsky also appeared in the lineup for a 9.625, which shows high potential and will look to contribute frequently in 2018. Lauren Wilson made an appearance twice, scoring above 9.2 and showcasing reliability should they need her to step in. From the freshmen, Ellie Beckman has notched as high as 9.525 for her stickable Yurchenko layout half, Ally Brugler brings a powerful and difficult Yurchenko layout full and Sarah Rogalla scored as high as 9.475 in level 10. With a crop of consistent returning athletes, as well as incoming freshmen with high difficulty, the event should be a reliable strength of the Eagles in 2018.
Bars has historically been a strength for La Crosse and 2017 was no different, finishing the season ranked No. 66 above three non-DIII teams. The lineup will return all six regular contributors, lead by NCGA All-Americans Wilson and Amy Enright, who hold season highs of 9.725, along with Ostrovsky who also recorded a 9.725 on the event. Barmore, Wiekamp and Monique Muehlethaler were all consistent contributors with scores above 9.5, and Farrell competed a few times as well for a season high of 9.475. With this strong of a returning lineup, it will be difficult for any freshmen to break in, but look to Beckman as a likely contributor as she holds a career high 9.375 in level 10. Bars is likely to be the eagles strongest event in 2018, so look for a consistent group of returning athletes to capitalize on the strength.
Beam was La Crosse’s weakest event in 2017, finishing ranked No. 72. However, there is plenty of potential for the Eagles, with six returning athletes having scored above 9.5 last season. Spankowski and Wiekamp lead the way in RQS with totals above 9.5 and season highs of 9.725 and 9.65 respectively. Enright, Jessica Ahrens and Barmore were all regulars in the beam lineup as well and performed solidly for RQS scores above 9.2. Increased consistency from these veterans will be a focus heading into 2018. Now sophomore Ally Blixt was strong on beam last season scoring, hitting a season high of 9.625. Incoming freshman Brugler could crack the lineup with powerful acro and confidence on the event. Beckman holds a 9.375 career high in level 10, finishing her set with a beautiful round off one and a half dismount. Rogalla reached 9.35 in level 10 and showcases a back handspring layout with straight legs, as well as a side aerial. There is plenty of potential for La Crosse on beam, so look for an increased hit percentage and clean execution from the Eagles in the coming season.
La Crosse had a strong floor showing last season, finishing at No. 71. The Eagles will need to replace their top three scorers on the event in 2018, though. However, those who do return to the lineup are lead by Enright and Wiekamp, both with 9.45+ RQS scores and highs of 9.7 and 9.75, respectively. Ostrovsky also had a season high of 9.75 in 2017 and will look to contribute frequently next season while Muehlethaler competed floor six times with a season high of 9.65 and never tallying a mark below 9.2. Barmore was another strong competitor for the Eagles, hitting a high of 9.4. Floor is a strong event for the incoming freshmen as well, with Brugler showcases a sky high double arabian that would add difficulty to the lineup. Beckman is another one in contention for a top-six spot, scoring as high as high as 9.45 with a clean double pike and quick combination passes. Rogalla hit a career high 9.575 in J.O., with beautiful execution and stunning dance, giving the Eagles a plethora of options on floor, making it a strength for La Crosse in 2018.
The Eagles will need to replace a few strong routines on three events but look poised to do so with a strong incoming class and increased depth among returning athletes. They will be lead by all arounders Wiekamp and Barmore. Wiekamp looks like a challenger for the overall AA title in 2018, with a career high of 38.8, and Barmore has plenty of potential and will look to consistently hit all four events on the same day. Capitalizing on clean gymnastics and consistency will be key for La Crosse in 2018 if the team wants to regain its spot atop the WIAC and DIII gymnastics podium.
Follow NCAA DIII gymnastics all season and look for our weekly DIII previews every Tuesday in the fall at NCAA Gym News. Then, join the conversation by following NCAA Gym News on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Article by Morgan Bradford