GVSU club teams head to nationals
The second weekend of April is proving to be a popular weekend to host club national championships, it appears.
Grand Valley State club sports teams will compete for the hardware against schools from around the nation this weekend. The dodgeball, men’s and women’s volleyball, gymnastics and strength clubs are among those representing GVSU around the country.
Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky. is hosting the 2015 National Collegiate Dodgeball Association (NCDA) national championship on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lakers are looking for the three-peat and their seventh national championship in program history. GVSU enters the competition with a 30-1 overall record this season, only losing at Central Michigan a few weeks ago after rattling off 29 straight wins to start the season. The Lakers fought through close games in the first semester, and swept the Michigan Dodgeball Cup earlier in 2015.
In pool play on the Saturday, GVSU will square off against Wisconsin-Platteville, Penn State and Kentucky. Then in the single-elimination bracket, Central Michigan, James Madison and Michigan State figure to be the biggest competition for GVSU in the tournament. Maryland and Ohio State, meanwhile, are said to be the dark horses.
GVSU seniors Dylan Fettig, Trevor Nordberg, and Jalen Gardner will guide GVSU wearing a Laker dodgeball uniform for the last time in the event. Captain Kevin Bailey, Aaron Terenzi and Austin Morley will also provide significant contributions for the Lakers all over the floor.
“After losing to Central, we have been working on strategies to beat the top teams. Losing (to CMU) only helped us improve,” Bailey said. “Hopefully, we are peaking at the right time. We are all really confident in how we can play against other teams and that we can win the tournament.”
You can follow along for updates on Twitter @GVDodgeball.
GVSU men’s volleyball will be taking its talents to Kansas City for the three-day national championships, hosted by the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF). Heading into the April tournament, GVSU is looking to capitalize on its strong play during the MIVA conference tournament at the end of March. GVSU will be using the same lineup as the conference tournament, a new lineup that coach Cam Rowland put together amidst injuries and scheduling conflicts.
The team will either compete in I-A competition, or I-AA, with I-A being the top division. The Lakers have faced the likes of I-A powerhouses Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Ohio State, so they have seen the best of the best on the court.
“We are hoping to finish well, and we have a shot to win it all at I-AA,” said Rowland. “We’ve just got to play solid and hard against the best competition.”
The Lakers have been able to practice together with the same lineup for more than a week, and are starting to mesh. Moving Brett Michaud to libero was a huge change that figures to benefit the team and free up outside hitter Marcus Johns to take more swings. The big man in the middle, Mike Marciniak is another player who will be a big factor the Lakers in Kansas City.
You can follow along for updates on Twitter: @GVMensVBall.
Kansas City is also the site for the women’s national championship from April 9-11.
GVSU has had a great season thus far. After the team’s first two tournaments of the year resulted in first-place finishes, the Lakers reached at least the semifinals in every other tournament this season. At Marquette two weekends ago, the Lakers won the ranking tournament.
Lineup changes have been huge for the Lakers, and libero Taylor Shomin moving up to varsity was a contributing factor.
GVSU is typically the only D2 team playing in D1, so the competition is always tough at nationals. Playing big schools with loads of talent does give GVSU added motivation, which could give the team an added boost.
Seniors are a big part of this team, which has a good upperclassmen/underclassmen dynamic. The veteran players lead the team, while the younger girls step up as an integral part of the team.
“My goal is to really focus on winning key matches that get us to the Gold (bracket) and then we just give it 100 percent during single elimination,” said coach Anna Tollefson. “Obviously, we’d like to win it all, but I don’t like to look ahead. Our focus is going to be one game at a time.”
You can follow along for updates on Twitter @GVSU_VBclub.
Last year, the gymnastics team finished 14th at nationals. This year, GVSU heads back looking to compete for a title.
Philadelphia is the host city, where GVSU’s women will compete on Saturday at noon before the men meet at 5 p.m.
The season started off slowly for the Lakers with a myriad of injuries and illnesses hitting the team. As soon as they recovered, they never looked back, especially as of late, with GVSU winning the last two meets they have competed in. With this success, there has been more motivation, confidence, and hard work for the Lakers on both the men’s and women’s sides.
The Lakers are a loud and proud team, and they will be one of the loudest at the sizable meet. They’ll also be one of the biggest – so big that they’ll enter two women’s teams. On the women’s side, Nicole Lasecki, Abby Alden, Stephanie Peterson and Ally Parks are set to lead the pack, while Austin Tucker will represent the Lakers on the men’s side.
GVSU will face stellar competition all over the board with Ohio State, Penn State and William & Mary sending solid teams to the national meet. The Lakers will have a chance to put their name on the map if they can go toe-to-toe on the bars, beam, floor and vault.
“We are hoping to place top 10 and have more event qualifiers,” Lasecki said. “We are still in building stage and not as experienced, but we still have a lot of depth and hopefully that will show.”
You can follow along for updates on Twitter @GVSUGYMNASTICS.
The GVSU strength club was named the “Fittest Campus in America” last year at the national competition at Ohio Northern University.
This year, the Lakers are hoping to repeat that feat and bring the title back to GVSU.
On Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Lakers will take on some of the fittest college students in the nation in a series of workouts to test the overall strength of the athletes.
GVSU has been training well recently, and that has shown all year long as they have taken first place all three competitions they have competed in this year. The Longhorns from the University of Texas will provide the most competition for the Lakers in Cincinnati. GVSU was able to watch some of their tape from the National Collegiate Fitness League series, which allowed teams to qualify for the national competition.
Regan Quaal, Adam Marthaler and Mike Carr have been competing well for the Lakers on the men’s side, which Elizabeth Martin and Kaylyn Kucish have been leading the women’s side of the spectrum.
“We are pretty confident that our team will perform well. It would be great to win the title two years in a row and winning this competition would be a successful end to the season,” Marthaler said.