8 Teams Favored To Make NCGA Nationals In 2019

This year the NCGA National Championships are hosted at University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, and although every team in the division hopes to see itself there, only six can qualify. Which teams snag a spot at nationals depends what happens at regionals, where the top three teams from the East Region and the WIAC secure a berth to the national tournament. With a little over five weeks left to go until competition day, here are eight teams that have a good shot at winning the title. 

1. Brockport

Ranked first in NCGA gymnastics at the moment, Brockport looks like the team to beat so far this season. With a season high score of 192.575 and an average score of 189.2625, Brockport is sure to gain a spot at nationals if the team keeps up its performance this season. 

The Golden Eagles have a history of doing well at nationals, qualifying every year for the last five years and taking third place the last two. In 2016, they took second, as well as fourth in 2015 and third in 2014. 

Senior Candis Kowalik is a strong all-arounder who surely wants another shot at the national title. She has helped the team snag high scores all season so far and will be a huge asset in qualifying for nationals. 

Brockport has mainly competed in quad and tri meets this season, besides its first meet where it opened against Cortland, winning 186.575-182.950. After that dual meet, Brockport went on to win a quad meet against Ursinus College, Springfield College and Rhode Island College with a 186.300, then took second to Southern Connecticut State and beat Rhode Island College in a tri meet. 

The Golden Eagles then continued their season, winning a tri meet against Rhode Island College and Ithaca, and most recently took second in a tri meet, losing to Cornell and beating Ithaca. Only time will tell if Brockport makes it into this year’s national championships, but the odds are looking good for this team. 

2. UW–Stout

Having competed four meets so far this season, Stout’s record is looking great so far. Although the Blue Devils have competed fewer meets than other teams, they have had an unusually good year. 

This explosive team won its first meet on Jan. 18 against two-time defending national champions UW-Whitewater, winning 187.575-186.000. Stout tied for second at a quad meet, losing to Texas Women’s University, tying with Centenary College and beating UW–La Crosse with a score of 189.950. The Blue Devils’ last two meets were wins, first with a huge win in a tri meet against UW–Eau Claire and Hamline University, where they beat Hamline by over six points and Eau Claire by even more. Their most recent meet was a dual meet against Winona State, where they won with a score of 188.825 to Winona’s 183.675. 

With a high score this season of 189.950 and an average score of 188.2938, Stout appears to be a team to beat this spring. Although Stout has not been to nationals since 2017, when it placed fifth, and has only been in two national championships in the last five years, this year could the team’s year to pick it up. 

The Blue Devils’ other national appearance since 2014 was in 2015, when they placed sixth as a team. 

3. Ithaca

With four meets under its belt and many coming up soon, Ithaca is currently ranked third in the NCGA. The Bombers’  average team score is currently a 187.350, and their highest score a 189.375. 

“Being ranked third as a team is very exciting, but also very motivating for our team,” said Ithaca senior Nina Bustamante. “We are excited about all the potential we have been showing, but we are also very ready for the rest of the season. With nationals five weeks away, we are determined to keep our momentum moving forward and very excited for what is yet to come. It’s been such a fun season so far and it will only get better.” 

Ithaca’s first meet was a win against Rhode Island College, which the Bombers swept with a 197.000 to Rhode Island’s 176.275. Next, they competed in a quad meet against Temple, Penn and Ursinus, taking third with a 185.750. They moved on to a tri meet with Brockport and Cortland to begin the month of February, taking second with a 185.975. Their most recent competition was another tri meet, this time against Brockport and Cornell, where they scored a 189.375. 

Until last year, Ithaca had not been to nationals since 2014 where it placed seventh, but in 2018 the team qualified and placed sixth. Moving up in the rankings this year, it’s looking quite likely that this team will qualify for nationals and improve its team ranking for 2019. 

4. UW–La Crosse

A top contender at NCGA Nationals in the last four years, UW–La Crosse is expected to make the cut once again. In 2018 and 2017, the Eagles took second, a placement that was down from 2016 and 2015, when they won first place both years. 

The Eagles have competed in five meets so far this season, winning dual meets against Eau Claire, Hamline and Oshkosh. They did not fare quite as well in a quad meet against Texas Women’s University, UW-Stout and Centenary College where they took fourth, and a tri meet where they lost to the U.S. Air Force Academy and beat Whitewater, taking second place. 

UWL’s season high this year so far has been a 187.350, and the team average is at 186.9438, giving the Eagles a likelihood of qualifying for nationals. With seven freshmen, six sophomores, five juniors, and two seniors, La Crosse has had some difficulty pulling together and being ready to go for competitions, but the more experience the roster gets, the better this squad will be. 

5. Springfield

In its first of four outings this season, Springfield placed second in a quad meet, losing only to Brockport. After that meet, the Pride moved to a competition against West Chester, where they lost on Jan. 27. They placed fourth in a quad meet on Feb. 2, but scored a new season high of a 188.200, making it a successful competition. 

The Prides’ most recent competition was another quad meet where they scored a 185.775, placing fourth. Springfield has competed in just one national competition in the last five years, but that sixth-place showing at the 2017 NGCA Nationals gives the team some recent familiarity with such a high-pressure competition.

The team’s average score this season is a 185.9563, placing it over many other DIII teams and giving it a shot at getting into championships again this year. In the regular season, Springfield still has to compete in a tri meet against Ithaca and Southern Connecticut, a dual meet against Cortland and a dual meet against Rhode Island College. If this team can keep up its strong season, it has a good chance to make it into this year’s national championships.

6. Cortland

Coming off of a fifth-place finish in 2018 at nationals, this team is currently ranked sixth in the NCGA and hopes to qualify for nationals once again. The Red Dragons have been in four of five national competitions in the last five years, placing fifth in 2016 and 2015 and second in 2014. 

This team’s season high currently stands at a 186.975, and its average is a solid 184.5438. Cortland’s first matchup was a dual meet against Brockport which the Red Dragons lost, scoring a 182.950. At the next outing, a quad meet, they took fourth with a 183.450, then finished third at a tri meet, scoring a 180.475. Next, they were up against Cornell, losing with a 184.800. 

In the Red Dragon’s most recent competition, they took second in a tri meet with a 186.975. This team’s score keeps getting higher and higher as season goes on, showing its potential to climb that season high even higher as a team, as well as improve its average. If Cortland keep improving, we could easily see this team at the national championships. 

7. UW–Oshkosh

With a season high team score of 185.750 and an average of 184.3188, Oshkosh wants a spot in this year’s nationals badly—after all, they’re hosting it. UWO has won three dual meets and lost two this season, beating Gustavus Adolphus, Eau Claire and Winona. The Titans lost to Hamline and UW–La Crosse and placed third in a quad meet. 

Oshkosh has not competed in nationals since 2014 when it placed fifth, but this team has a long history of competing at the meet and the Titans believe they have a good chance of qualifying again this year. 

“I would say it’s different than most nationals, because so many of the girls know each other on all different teams and although it’s a competition, at the end of the day everyone is happy and excited for everyone else’s accomplishments,” said Oshkosh junior Baylee Tkaczuk. A two-time bars national champion, Tkaczuk gained All American honors on beam in 2018. Like many others on her team, she is excited for the chance to compete at home while hosting a national competition. The Titans’ motto this season is “Road to Home,” giving them the motivation they need to do their best at regionals. 

8. UW–Whitewater

The two-time defending champion is currently ranked eighth, but this team is ready to ramp up and improve its scores by regionals to qualify for nationals and defend the title. 

The Warhawks have claimed gold or bronze at every national competition in the last five years: winning the title in 2017 and 2018 and finishing third the two years prior. 

“We’ve faced some adversity so far this season with injuries, so a big goal right now is to get healthy and keep working on building some consistency,” UWW senior Bailey Fitzpatrick said. “After every meet, we look at the details we can keep improving on and focus on that during practice, and just try to take things one step at a time throughout the year.” 

So far this season, Whitewater has competed in four meets, its first being a close loss to Stout, 187.575-186.000. The next meet was a tri meet against Gustavus Adolphus and Winona, where UWW took first place with a 183.375 over Winona’s 182.650 and Gustavus Adolphus’s 180.575. Next, the team moved onto a tri meet against U.S. Air Force Academy and UW–La Crosse, where it took third with a 182.500. The Warhawks’ most recent meet was a dual meet against Hamline, where Whitewater won by a huge margin, receiving a 185.350 over Hamline’s 179.875. With an average score of 184.3063 and a season high of 186.000, the Whitewater gymnasts plan to give it their all at regionals and qualify to defend their title at nationals. 

Miranda Martin is a freelance writer who writes about gymnastics, social justice issues, and more. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or contact her through her website.

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