Potential Lineups: WIAC Part II

The second part of our WIAC potential lineups focuses on the three Minnesota teams. Traditionally led by Winona, we saw a shift in the rankings last year with Hamline coming out on top. Gustavus also proved it was a force to be reckoned with when the team finished fifth at the conference championship—right between Hamline, which was third, and Winona, which was sixth. All three of these teams have something to prove this year with the Pipers and Gusties hoping to show their incredible finishes weren’t flukes and the Warrior’s wanting to bounce back as Minnesota’s top DIII team.

The potential lineups series is back to discuss teams’ prospects for the 2019 season. However, it has a bit of a new look: less body, more straight-forward analysis yet all the same great information you’ve come to know and love.

No. 76 Hamline

Hamline qualifying to nationals was truly the highlight of DIII gymnastics last year. Vault and floor were consistently great events for the Pipers, but beam and bars really came together at the conference championship to put them in title contention with Whitewater and La Crosse and two full points ahead of the fourth place team. The team followed up with a record-breaking performance at nationals to finish fourth. However, with five major contributors having graduated, it could be tough to repeat the amazing season the team had last year.

Losses: Alyssa Huch (VT, UB), Courtney Morrison (UB, BB), Sydney Tribbett (AA), Alexa Vorderbruggen (VT, FX), Morgan Bradford (UB, BB, FX)
Gains: Nicole Johnsen, Katie Kalland, Carolina Schlawiedt, Katie Viles, Savannah Tafolla


The Pipers’ vault lineup was ever-changing last year, which allowed for many returners to get some experience. Caitlin Cooper’s Tsuk layout will remain a staple in the lineup. Others that could potentially join her are Meghan Webb with her big Yurchenko layout and Darby Slater with a handspring front. Both had the opportunity to compete at nationals last year. Freshman Nicole Johnsen is another that could see some lineup time with her solid Yurchenko layout.

Potential Contributors: Caitlin Cooper (9.445 RQS), Meghan Webb, Jada Czysz-DeBoer, Rosie Giese, Danielle Dudley, Darby Slater, Julia Williams, Nicole Johnsen


Bars was one of Hamline’s weakest events in 2018, and with three of the team’s usual contributors graduating, this year will likely be similar. Lydia Ingram and Kelsey Renneklev lead the way with Ingram competing a unique twisting dismount and Renneklev a Gienger. However, both need to clean up form to boost their scores. Though it’s a weak event for the freshmen as well, there are two that could potentially break in with Johnsen competing a nice Jaeger and bail routine but has small form issues throughout. Carolina Schlawiedt is another new face we could see, with a clean giant half to bail combo and blind full + double back.

Potential Contributors: Lydia Ingram (9.245 RQS), Kelsey Ranneklev (9.025 RQS), Caitlin Cooper (8.790 RQS), Rosie Giese, Nicole Johnsen, Carolina Schlawiedt


Beam was another one of Hamline’s weaker events, but the lineup hit when it counted. With three returners with RQS above a 9.000 and a few others with experience, the team should be in a good position here if it gains a bit more confidence and consistency. Freshmen Katie Viles and Johnsen are also in a position to be lineup contenders. Viles competes an aerial + roundoff series and Johnsen has a great side somi.

Potential Contributors: Meghan Webb (9.465 RQS), Lydia Ingram (9.305 RQS), Lauren Faust (9.050 RQS), Caitlin Cooper (8.865 RQS), Darby Slater, Kelsey Ranneklev, Nicole Johnsen, Katie Viles


Floor was a stellar event for the Pipers last year. Like vault, their lineups changed quite frequently so there are only two returners who were regular membersbut those two both have a massive RQS above 9.600. Four other veterans saw action—one of which competed at nationals—so the team should be in a solid position to build on the success it saw last year. Johnsen and Viles could also see some time out on the floor with Johnsen competing a nice double pike and Viles scoring big for her pretty front tumbling connections.

Potential Contributors: Darby Slater (9.665 RQS), Caitlin Cooper (9.640 RQS), Meghan Webb, Jada Czysz-DeBoer, Rosie Giese, Danielle Dudley, Nicole Johnsen, Katie Kalland, Katie Viles

The Pipers are likely to have a solid and consistent year thanks to strong returning gymnasts as well as freshmen that are ready and capable of filling lineup spots. However, in a conference where every team is really stepping up its game, a weak bar rotation could hold the team back from repeating as national qualifiers.

No. 78 Winona

After losing their star all arounder Eboni Jackson to an Achilles injury early in the season, Winona struggled to figure out a lineup that made up for her loss. However, it pulled it together at conference to finish sixth. This year looks like it will be one of rebuilding as it lost eight seniors and five additional team members but brought in nine freshmen. With such a young team, it will be critical to build confidence early in the season to fight for one of the top three spots at the conference championship.

Losses: Katie Carling (UB, BB), Jessica Gabriel, Eboni Jackson (AA), Kelcie Kappes, Cassidy Kleven, Katie Pipp (UB, FX), Gianna Scala (VT), Emily Woitchek (UB, FX), Alyssa Carroll, Miranda Saathoff (BB), Breanna Murray (FX), Bryanna Peterson, Samia Taylor
Gains: Hailey Bryant, Katie Curtis, Maya Fernando, Sarah Fortuna, Hailey Illi, Gabrielle Johnson, Hannah Matuszak, Mackenzie Velarde, Kaitlyn West


Though vault was the Warrior’s lowest ranking event in 2018, they actually scored higher and more consistently here than their other events. Unfortunately, the team just did not have the difficulty to keep up with the higher ranked teams. This year, they could be looking to replace some of their lower scoring vaults with strong freshmen. Kaitlyn West and Hailey Bryant scored big in J.O. for their clean Yurchenko layouts, and Maya Fernando has a great handspring front. Watch for these three to swoop in and become consistent lineup members.

Potential Contributors: Alana Currin (9.390 RQS), Kennedy Utz (9.325 RQS), Anna Hiller (9.285 RQS), Leah Messelt (9.270 RQS), Cora Geiger (8.495 RQS), Kaitlyn West, Maya Fernando, Hailey Bryant


Katie Carling and Katie Pipp were big stars on this event throughout their years on the team, and making up for their loss will be no easy task. However, veterans Sunny Hasebe, Alexis Burton and Hannah Norman have shown great work in fall training videos, with Hasebe and Burton catching solid Jaegers and Norman with a pretty blind full + Pak combination. Freshmen Fernando, West and Bryant are all possibilities as well, along with classmate Hannah Matuszak, who has a beautiful double layout.

Potential Contributors: Anna Hiller (9.235 RQS), Shelsea Zehr (9.105 RQS), Sunny Hasebe, Alexis Burton, Hannah Norman, Maya Fernando, Kaitlyn West, Hailey Bryant, Hannah Matuszak


Many returning gymnasts saw action in the beam lineup last year, which should benefit the team greatly this season. Lone senior Natalie Koehler was a staple in the lineup her first two seasons, so watch for her to come back strong this year, as she has shown great work this preseason. West and Bryant could also get a chance to shine on beam as the former has a clean set that has scored as high as 9.400 in J.O. and the latter has unique skills, such as a back handspring + back tuck series and gainer pike off the end of the beam.

Potential Contributors: Kelly Johnston (9.410 RQS), Anna Hiller (9.100 RQS), Mikaela Sellner (9.095 RQS), Sunny Hasebe, Cora Geiger, Natalie Koehler, Megan Tran, Kaitlyn West, Hailey Bryant


Floor is another event where many veterans got good experience last season—all of whom managed to score above a 9.200 at some point. Kennedy Utz and Leah Messelt will lead the way and are already ready for season, both having been featured as standout routines on the team’s Instagram this fall. Messelt in particular will be exciting to watch as she has upgraded to a whip + double pike opening pass. Though the Warrior veterans are fully capable of a great lineup, watch for freshmen West, Matuszak, Bryant and Sarah Fortuna to see some time in the top six or in exhibition.

Potential Contributors: Kennedy Utz (9.440 RQS), Leah Messelt (9.385 RQS), Megan Tran (8.975 RQS), Ashley Wright, Alana Currin, Shelsea Zehr, Kaitlyn West, Sarah Fortuna, Hannah Matuszak, Hailey Bryant

Winona’s season will be interesting to watch with 13 members of the team being underclassmen. With Jackson’s departure, look for West to potentially fill the role of all arounder. Also watch for more of its freshmen to break into lineup or exhibition spots as they grow and become more confident in their gymnastics.

No. 81 Gustavus

Talk about peaking at the right time! Throughout the season, Gustavus saw a steady progression in its scores, culminating in its highest mark of the seasonand third highest in the team’s record booksat the conference championship. The score of 185.725 led it to a fifth place finish, the team’s highest finish since 2004. The Gusties lost four of the sets that helped in their exciting ending last year but have two very strong freshmen that could potentially compete all four. Watch for this team to build upon its amazing conference showing from 2018 and continue its rise in 2019.

Losses: Emily Anderson (AA), Lisa Jerden, Kate Schneider (VT, UB), Maggie Willis
Gains: Brooke Merila, Maria Flores-Marquez, Sophie Redding


Their strongest event in 2018, the Gustie’s return five gymnasts who saw a lot of lineup time. However, freshmen Brooke Merila and Sophie Redding come in poised to take over two lineup spots, both having competed big Yurchenko layouts. Redding in particular could be a star as the team recently featured a video of her working an extremely viable Yurchenko full in its Instagram story. Merila also has some training videos of Yurchenko fulls, so if the two come together, it could be a big boost to the lineup.

Potential Contributors: Amanda Malo (9.380 RQS), Leah Heilig (9.365 RQS), Sam Ardy (9.315 RQS), Alyssa Teper (9.145 RQS), Leah Dargis (8.930 RQS), Veronica Vasina, Sophie Redding, Brooke Merila


Two-time event qualifier Sam Ardy is the standout here with her beautiful Maloney, but fellow seniors Veronica Vasina and Amanda Malo are right there with her. Vasina competes a Jaeger to bail and Malo was seen working giant + hop change + Healy which is quite unique as well as difficult. Again, Redding and Merila are possible lineup options. Neither competed routines that were up to the level for college, but both have training videos of skills that could get them there, with Redding showing a big Tkachev and Merila a unique double full dismount.  

Potential Contributors: Veronica Vasina (9.390 RQS), Amanda Malo (9.330 RQS), Sam Ardy (9.235 RQS), Leah Heilig (8.750 RQS), Grace Arnold (8.525 RQS), Sophie Redding, Brooke Merila


An area of inconsistency last year, the Gusties will definitely need to focus on hitting strong, confident sets in 2019 as this could be a make or break event. They return four beam workers who saw a lot of action last year and two others who were in and out of the top six. So they have enough depth, but it now comes down to who can hit under pressure. All arounder Amanda Malo will almost certainly remain in the lineup, however Redding and Merila could take over two other spots, with Redding scoring as high as 9.425 in level 10 and Merila having an aerial + back handspring series and a pretty illusion turn.

Potential Contributors: Katy Trunk (9.025 RQS), Sam Ardy (8.900 RQS), Amanda Malo (8.900 RQS), Jamie Erdely (8.500 RQS), Grace Arnold, Sam Tonjes, Sophie Redding, Brooke Merila


Floor has the greatest depth this year with eight returners that shared time in the lineup last year and two freshmen who could make an appearance. Ardy is poised to become a consistent lineup member as she was recently seen training a difficult back two and a half. Merila will also be a key contributor, having scored as high as a 9.625 in level 9.

Potential Contributors: Amando Malo (9.535 RQS), Leah Heilig (9.250 RQS), Victoria Aycock (9.135 RQS), Jamie Erdely (9.025 RQS) Katy Trunk (9.015 RQS), Sam Ardy, Alyssa Teper, Lara Aycock, Sophie Redding, Brooke Merila

Gustavus is a team to watch this year. Like Oshkosh, it is a team on the rise with great new talent that the program should be able to build on. Pay attention to what it does about all arounders as it has two strong veterans in Ardy and Malo and now have two freshmen who could also compete all four events.

READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: WIAC Part I

Article by Rachel Riesterer

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