Winona State finished the season ranked No. 75 and fourth in the WIAC, just shy of qualifying to the NCGA championships as a team. It still had a successful season in 2017, scoring above 188 twice. The team will be led by senior Eboni Jackson, who was the 2016 NCGA all around champion and 2017 floor champion. The team graduated no seniors and its roster indicates an additional six freshmen. While predicting lineups in DIII can be difficult, previews can give you a good idea of what to look for from the Warriors next season.
Note: All reported scores are taken from competition (not including exhibition) routines published on MyMeetScores.com and RoadToNNationals.com.
Vault was the weakest event for Winona last season, ranking No. 79. However, there is a lot of potential for 2018. Leading the Warriors will be Jackson who had an RQS above 9.5 and a season-high of 9.65. Samia Taylor, Alyssa Carroll and Kennedy Utz all have RQS scores above 9.3 and are quite consistent as well. Taylor Lewis and Alanna Currin both scored season highs above 9.5 in 2017, so look for them to be a strong part of the lineup. Megan Tran and Leah Messelt also fit into the top six in 2017 for season highs above 9.4. With 10 returning gymnasts competing at some point last season, depth on vault should not be an issue. Additionally, look for freshmen Cora Geiger to contend with her Tsuk layout while Anna Hiller has training video of a Yurchenko layout full. There is good potential for Winona State on vault so look for it to capitalize on consistency while also increasing difficulty on the event in 2018.
Bars was a strong event for Winona in 2017, finishing the season ranked No. 74. It will be led by senior Katie Pipp, an individual qualifier to NCGA nationals on the event with an RQS of 9.55. Haruka Hasebe is also strong on bars, scoring as high as a 9.625 in 2017. Jackson and Katie Carling both achieved RQS scores in the 9.3 range, so expect them to remain a key piece of the lineup in 2018 as well. Hannah Norman and Elizabeth Maher both had season highs around 9.4. From the freshmen, Shelsea Zehr earned as high as 9.05 in level 10 and Alexis Burton shows a nice blind to jaeger. Hiller holds a J.O. career high of 9.15 and competes a unique front giant to straddle back. Because of all of this, the lineup actually has the potential to rival the best in the division.
Winona finished 2017 ranked No. 73 on beam—its best position on any event. It will be led again by Jackson, whose 9.595 RQS was a team high, also hitting a season high of 9.75. Closely following is Kelly Johnston who had a season high 9.725. Hasebe wrapped up 2017 with an RQS of 9.56 and Natalie Kohler notched a 9.49. Carroll is another gymnast to keep an eye out for as her season high in 2017 was a 9.65. Carling, Miranda Saathoff and Tran all competed beam as well for high scores of 9.475, 9.4 and 9.225, respectively. And Hiller has a difficult routine with a side aerial, back handspring layout step-out and side aerial to back full dismount.
Winona is a talented team on floor thanks to 2017 floor champ Jackson. The star held an RQS near 9.7 last season and tallied a huge season high of 9.85. Carroll is very strong on the event as well, holding a 2017 RQS score of 9.595. Utz shows great potential, scoring as high as 9.725 while Breanna Murray, Tran and Currin all hit above 9.5. Messelt was a regular contributor to the top six, finishing with an RQS of 9.1. There is talent from the freshman on floor, too: Zehr scored as high as 9.3 in level 10 and shows a comfortable double tuck-style routine, Hiller has a high double tuck with potential for more.
Graduating no seniors in 2017 and adding six freshman gives Winona State a lot of depth heading into the 2018 season. The Warriors will look to rely on their experienced veterans, as well as some input from newcomers to lead them back to NCGA nationals after missing last season. Jackson should remain an all around star and will be looked upon as a contender for the individual national title this year.
Article by Morgan Bradford