GVSU clubs cap busy weekend at nationals

By Mark Washburn | 4/12/15 11:08pm

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With an assortment of Grand Valley State club programs scattered across the country for nationals this weekend, there was bound to be some great competition. All teams represented Laker Nation well.

Here's what the gymnastics team, strength club and volleyball teams were up to:

Courtesy/Eric Garvelink
Courtesy / Adam Marthaler

Strength Club

Courtesy/Nicole Lasecki
Gymnastics

Philadelphia was the site for GVSU and many other schools at the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAICG) national meet. The Lakers improved on their 14th-place finish from last year with an 11th-place showing, scoring 135.75 points.

On the men’s side, Austin Tucker finished fifth all-around in his session. 

On the women’s side, Nicole Lasecki finished 13th in her session with a 34.6 during the all-around. Regarding individual events: Abby Alden and Stephanie Peterson led the team on vault with an 8.675 score, Lasecki finished bars with an 8.9 and a 9.15 on floor, Morgan Ryder scored and 8.75 on the beam and Ally Park finished floor with a 9.125. 

Both Lasecki and Ellie Stiles competed on Saturday in the finals.

The team started off really well on the floor, which was excellent for the Lakers. As a high-energy team, they really benefit from the yelling and cheering associated with the floor event. The event is also a favorite for GVSU because of the personality it allows them to showcase. After a rough patch on vault, the Lakers rebounded with good routines on the bars, then finished off on the beam.

“During finals (on Saturday) was when the energy was really high and it was a lot of fun just being in the gym,” Lasecki said. “The intensity was really exciting to watch."

The 2015 team was the largest GVSU ever sent to nationals.

Strength Club

The GVSU strength club traveled to Cincinnati to protect its “Fittest Campus in America” title on Saturday. The Lakers performed well, but finished a mere five points behind the University of Texas (630 points) in second place with 625 points. Pittsburgh finished in third with 595 points.

“It was a tough loss, especially losing by just five points,” said Adam Marthaler. “This is the first time that our club hasn’t taken first place in a competition since the club was created. We will definitely keep this in the back of our minds as we train this summer.”

GVSU competed in five different events, including overhead squats, pull-ups, dead lifts, rope climbs and many other endurance/strength feats.

Cooper Skarzynski stepped up on Saturday for the Lakers, along with Dustin Karlik, Anthony Davis, and Dakota Miller.

“Overall, I am really proud of our club," Marthaler said. "We have had excellent performances out of everyone this year which has given us a lot of success. We are looking forward to another strong year next year.”

Men’s Volleyball

For the men’s club volleyball team, this was a year unlike any other at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) national tournament in Kansas City. 

The Lakers started off on Thursday in pool play finishing 3-0. The squad took down Oregon State in three sets, then defeated Rhode Island and North Dakota State in the next two matches.

Day two saw the Lakers taking on two California teams. GVSU was able to top Fresno State (26-24, 25-19) in the first match, but lost to Stanford in three sets.

During gold bracket play in Division I-AA, the Lakers played against North Carolina State, eventually losing in the third set.

“I thought we played really well," said coach Cam Rowland. "This morning (against N.C. State) we really let the moment get to us after that first set. It’s tough, we just had to hold them but we couldn’t finish in the third set.”

Marcus Johns played a great tournament for the Lakers, consistently finding ways to get kills. Senior Mike Marciniak stepped up big time in a leadership role, while also being named a DI-AA First Team All-American. Brett Michaud also kept GVSU in the system with key digs to keep plays alive.

Johns was excited about the way his team competed this year.

“This was actually was the best tournament I’ve ever played in my entire life. I couldn’t think of a better group of brothers to play with,” he said.

GVSU finished the tournament in ninth place.

Women’s Volleyball

The women’s club volleyball team also took their talents to Kansas City for the three-day NCVF national tournament, finishing in fifth place.

On day one, the Lakers went 3-0 in pool play, defeating North Carolina-Chapel Hill in three sets, then Illinois and Pittsburgh in two sets. GVSU was a bit hesitant against UNC-Chapel Hill, but powered back after adjusting to the scenery and spectacle inside the Kansas City Convention Center.

On day two, GVSU lost to Texas A&M, but bounced back with a win over St. Louis (29-27, 25-17) to advance to the Division I Gold Bracket.

On Saturday, the Lakers overcame Connecticut -- a team that had only dropped one set up to that point in the tournament -- in the first round of bracket play (25-12, 25-18). It proved to be their last win of the season, however, as GVSU was eliminated by Texas (25-21, 25-20) in the quarterfinals.

“We weren’t expected to do this well this year and we came back and fought for it hard," said senior Hannah Chapla, who was named a DI First Team All-American. "Texas is a great team but we came out and played our hardest."

McKenzie Zinn and Nicole Hahn also stepped up for the Lakers all weekend, as did setter Emily Robb and Michelle Arnett in the libero role.

“We built every game, getting a little bit better which is exactly what we needed to do,” said coach Anna Tollefson.

The two teams that GVSU lost to in the tournament, Texas and Texas A&M, played for the championship.

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