UWL adds to athletics legacy
The trophy case in UWL’s Mitchell Hall continues to get more crowded. This fall, UWL Athletics added several WIAC titles to its legacy.
“It’s been an amazing fall season,” says Jason Murphy, UWL soccer head coach.
The men’s team set the tone at the WIAC conference meet. The team earned the first-place trophy with six Eagles finishing in the top 12. At nationals, UWL would take second.
The women’s team took 2nd in the WIAC and finished well enough to earn a bid to run in the NCAA Championships where they would finish seventeenth. Senior Kaitlyn McDaniel was named the co-recipient of the 2017 WIAC Judy Kruckman Women’s Cross Country Scholar-Athlete Award.
“Being at a school that has this rich tradition, it’s made me a better coach,” says head coach Derek Standly. “All of the credit goes to the coaches before me. I’m riding the coattails of Phil Esten, Don Fritch, Pat Healy, Mark Guthrie and a number of others.”
For the first time in school history, the UWL Women’s Soccer team went undefeated in WIAC conference play. They also won the WIAC tournament giving the team an automatic bid into the national tournament. The last time the program won both was in 1996.
“I’m super excited for the players,” says Head Coach Jason Murphy. “They’ve worked hard to build our program. For them to see the benefits is exciting for me.”
The team also set a single-season school record with 20 wins on the way to the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals. This was the first season the team won a national tournament game.
The UWL volleyball team dominated conference play. The team, led by first-year coach Amber Dunn, went 7-0 in conference play and swept the WIAC tournament on the way to making it to the regional semifinal of the national tournament.
“Going undefeated in conference is impressive, especially since the WIAC is one of the best in the country,” says Dunn. “I don’t know how long it’s been since a school has swept the WIAC in both season and tournament play, but it can’t be that often.”
For the first time since 2006, UWL’s football team won eight games. However, it wasn’t enough to give the Eagles a shot to play for a national title. UWL was the first team out by the tournament selection committee.
“To make that jump from last year to this year, winning eight games and being ranked in the top 25 nationally is huge,” shares Head Coach Mike Schmidt. “This just shows where the program is going.”
A major highlight of UWL’s success is senior wide receiver Nick Holcomb being named a semi-finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy which recognizes the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III. The winner will be announced December 13.
The women’s tennis team claimed second in both WIAC play and at the WIAC tournament falling four points behind UW-Whitewater at the tournament. The tennis season will continue in spring with a four-team WIAC tournament where the winner earns an automatic bid to the national tournament.
Along with the team accolades, number one singles player, Bridget Bellissimo, won her second individual conference title and earned the 2017 WIAC Judy Kruckman Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete Award.
“Certainly as coaches, we want them dedicated to the sport 100 percent, but at La Crosse you have to have balance,” says head coach Bill Hehli. “Our students better be focused in the classroom and they are – that’s why they’re always on the podium for outstanding academic performance.”