By Trevor Stone
With the move to the UMAC (Upper Midwest Athletic Conference) some Yellowjacket Athletic teams made some major strides of success in the 2015-2016 season. This transition showed signs of hope for more conference titles, playoff contention, and potential championships for each athletic team.
Last season there were many positive results from the conference move. Multiple teams qualified for playoffs and several UWS student-athletes were voted All-UMAC or All-Region, and were recognized by other coaches from the conference.
2015-16 was arguably one of the best athletic years for UWS.
Men’s Soccer Outlook:
The men’s soccer season came to a close after a loss to St. Scholastica in the UMAC Tournament Championship. That had only put determination in the eyes of the players as they are hungry for revenge this 2016 season.
Jonah Garcia, a junior midfielder said, “We did a lot of preseason work to become ‘game-fit’ for this season.” Garcia is assured that their physical efforts for preparation are not the issue, but the team chemistry is what needs some work, and when that is accomplished, then they should have all of the tools to be successful.
Though with a 0-4 start to their season, the team has yet to begin conference play. Their first conference game was against St. Scholastica on Sep. 21 at home at 4:15 p.m.
Women’s Soccer Outlook:
Last season the women’s soccer team only won two games. However, that sparked some optimism for this fall. Two of those wins came from conference play and showed that they have the potential to compete.
Assistant Coach Taylor Piechocki is looking forward to seeing the season play out, and hopes to see a lot of UMAC wins, as well as her team accomplishing the small things, such as fundamentals on the field. The small things eventually become the big things.
Piechocki is also hoping to see the ladies have a .500 season record this year. The team is 0-2 at the start of their season but have the tools to be a competitive team. The next game on the schedule was at Bethel University on Sat, Sep. 17. Game set to start at 1 p.m.
In their 2015 season, the volleyball team was 18-16 overall and 6-2 in conference play. This earned them a trip to the UMAC Tournament last season, but their season ended after a loss to the University of Minnesota-Morris.
This season, the team is at a record of 3-8 at the start. Head Coach Lynne Deadrick is assured that their tougher non-conference schedule is one of their best preparations for success in conference-play this season. Deadrick said that it’s all of the little things that will help this year. From their offseason workouts, and their non-conference game-play, it will all be beneficial when facing conference competition.
Golf was a sport added recently last year when UWS moved to the UMAC Conference. With this transition came accomplishments, both personal and team oriented.
The men’s golf team had an impressive first season in the UMAC. They finished third in their second-to-last spring season tournament at the Saints Invitational, and fourth at the Edgewood College Spring Invitational to finish their season. It was a memorable year for the Yellowjackets and showed optimism towards the development of the golf program here.
This fall, the men have placed in the top five places in four out of their last five tournaments. A consistent basis of success is being seen through these tournaments and makes this team exciting to watch.
The women’s golf team won the UMAC Conference Title last season and even achieved a spot in the NCAA DIII Tournament in Texas last spring. Though unsuccessful in the tournament, it was a great accomplishment for the team in their first year as a competing sport at UWS.
This fall season, the ladies have placed in the top three spots in four of their last five tournaments. They continue to impress and are definitely a team to follow and watch out for.
Cross Country Outlook:
Men’s Cross Country:
At the end of the fall last season, the men cross country runners earned a second place spot in their first season in the UMAC Conference. The team has some big returners to lead them as they are predicted first in the coaches’ poll in the UMAC. One of the returners that has already made a major impact this fall season is Jackson Lindquist.
Lindquist finished his junior season with an All-UMAC award, along with an All-Region Honoree. Lindquist got third overall in UMAC Championships and placed second on his team behind Charles Corbett, who graduated last spring. He has already finished second in each of his first two races this season. The men’s cross country team has shown a lot of success not only with individual runners, but also as a team as a whole. This is one team that has a lot of potential and can make major waves in the UMAC this year. They will be fun to watch.
Women’s Cross Country:
In 2015 the women’s cross country team finished third in the regular season UMAC Conference standings with 86 points, this being their highest finish the cross country has ever had. As a team in the NCAA Regional Tournament, they placed 24th to conclude their postseason stretch.
The three top runners that are returning for the Yellowjackets are sophomore Kelli Praska, who was voted All-UMAC in 2015, senior Alissa Boyharti, and sophomore Alli Manthey. Both Boyharti and Manthey competed in the 2015 Championships. Boyharti finished 21st and Manthey finished 22nd. These three are a good core of leaders to help bring the team back to the top three spots in the UMAC Championships.
Though some big runners were lost last season (Jackie Erickson: 2015 All-UMAC and Hannah Kautz: ninth team finisher in 2015 championships), Head Coach Glenn Drexler and his team have the tools and capabilities of making a run for the top again this fall.
Basketball Offseason Preparation:
In the 2015-16 season, the men’s basketball team was 12-14 overall, and 8-8 in conference play. This performance got them an appearance in the UMAC Tournament. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in the tournament with a three-point loss to Minnesota Morris in the first round.
This fall the team is training in full-force. Their training includes their weekly conditioning classes, and they also scrimmage within themselves to make training as game-like as possible. Players also take it upon themselves to go in the gym and take extra shots to work on their individual game.
Their first game is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. in the Mertz-Mortorelli Gymnasium at UWS.
The women’s basketball team had one of the most memorable runs in team history last year. With a record of 24-4 overall, a perfect 16-0 in conference play, and the team was a favorite in the UMAC Tournament. A successful conference tournament play paved the way for the team’s first trip to the NCAA DIII Tournament. Unfortunately, it was a short run after a first-round loss to UW-Oshkosh.
The ladies are now working hard once again to make an even better run this year. A junior guard, Brittany Laehn says she is excited to see if they can be better than last season. To prepare, the ladies are conditioning four times a week, and playing pick-up scrimmages against each other at least two times a week.
Aside from that, multiple players spend some free time that they have taking extra shots and doing individual work. Game one of their 2016-17 season scheduled for Tue, Nov. 15 in Superior at Mertz-Mortorelli Gymnasium on campus. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
Hockey Offseason Preparation:
Men’s Hockey Team:
The men’s hockey team was 9-15-3 last season and 2-5-1 in the WIAC Conference. After a tough season, the head coach position became vacant. After several interviews and searching, Rich McKenna was named the head coach for the 2016-17 season.
After a disappointing season last year, the team is doing a lot of training and preparation in their offseason. The players have started their dry-land training, as well as training and lifting on their own in a separate program. With a new coach and new training techniques, the team is getting ready for their season opener. The first game is scheduled for Fri, Oct. 28 at Wessman Arena at 7:00 pm.
Women’s Hockey Team:
The women’s hockey team finished their season overall 10-12-5 and a conference record of 3-6-3. They came close, but not close enough to a playoff spot after being kept out by Stevens Point. After coming so close last year, the determination to get a better result is in the mindset of the players.
Lexie Weiss, a junior forward said that starting preseason conditioning and workouts is helping build excitement towards the season. Weiss said, “I’m pretty excited to get back on the ice with everyone and see what our five new players are going to bring to the team. I think we are all really fired up and looking forward to get some revenge on Stevens Point and River Falls this year.”
The offseason workouts being more structured seems to have been more of a help in getting the team ready for games to start she also mentioned. The season is only two months away and regular practices should begin soon. The first scheduled game is set for Oct. 28 at 7:00 pm against Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.