The NCAA D2 and D3 Conference Championships Recap

Our Division II and Division III teams wrapped up the regular season last weekend with Conference Championships, and while some teams ended their seasons at these meets, other teams and a handful of individuals have qualified to move on!

The post-season works a little differently with non-Division I teams, and it might be a little bit confusing. First, you have NCAA regional championships, the bids for which were just announced a few days ago, and yes — it is possible for Division II (and even Division III) gymnasts to qualify. Quite a few made it, actually, but I’ll get to that later.

Then, you have USAG Collegiate Nationals. This is DIFFERENT from the NCAA Championships you’re thinking of. You see, because Division II is so small, the NCAA dropped its funding, and to save it, USA Gymnastics picked it up. The teams that are eligible to advance to USAG Nationals include all the Division II teams as well as Division I teams that do not give athletic scholarships, like the Ivy League and Air Force. Centenary, despite technically being Division III, is also part of this group, not the NCGA.

What is the NCGA you ask? The National Collegiate Gymnastics Association is the governing body of Division III gymnastics, since the NCAA doesn’t financially sponsor them anymore either. There are two conferences that make up the NCGA: the WIAC (all the D3 schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota) and the NCGA East (formerly ECAC-3 back in my day, basically comprising all of the D3 schools on the east coast). The NCGA has its own national championships for D3 teams only.

So, in a nutshell, it is possible for a gymnast to qualify for both the NCAA regional as a D2 or D3 gymnast (or team if ranked in the top 36), as well as for the national championship meet specific to each team’s division.

Lindenwood, Texas Woman’s, and Centenary competed at the MIC Championships, and despite being Division II programs, as I predicted, Lindenwood won the meet (194.675) for a third-straight MIC title, while TWU took second (194.000), beating the three Division I teams in their conference. Centenary (Division III) was sixth with a 190.350.

Lindenwood’s Kierstin Sokolowski and Katey Oswalt tied with TWU’s Schyler Jones for second place finishes on vault with scores of 9.85. Lindenwood’s Aubree Horn and TWU’s Bria Northrop tied for third on bars with 9.8s. Sokolowski won beam with a 9.85, and Oswalt tied with TWU’s Mallory Moredock for third place on floor with scores of 9.875. Centenary was led by strong performances from Ashley White on vault (9.8) and beam (9.625), Evelyn Harris on bars (9.625), and Navia Jordan on floor (9.825).

At the ECAC-2 Championships, Bridgeport won the meet (194.925), with West Chester second (192.875), and Southern Connecticut third (190.05), as I predicted last week.

Bridgeport absolutely dominated vault here, earning the top four scores on the event from Kim Stewart (9.825), Kelsey Campbell (9.775), Nina Whittaker (9.75), and Maya Reimers (9.7). Bridgeport’s Christine Liautaud won bars with a 9.825, and UB’s bar squad counted all scores of 9.675 or higher.

Brianna Comport won beam with a 9.9, but West Chester actually outscored Bridgeport on this event by half a point! They counted all scores of 9.775 or higher from Rose Wortman (9.775), Meghan Chan (9.775), Cassandra Hagerman (9.8), Selena Swanger (9.85), and Majesta Valentine (9.85). Valentine and Comport (ah, my two faves!) tied for the floor title with 9.875s, and Reimers was second with a 9.85.

Southern Connecticut’s Alexandra Avendano led the team on vault (9.625) and floor (9.825), Kathleen Aberger contributed strong performances on bars (9.625) and beam (9.725), and Rotem Porat posted SCSU’s best beam score (9.8).

The all-around title went to Campbell with a 39.15, while Valentine placed second (39.0), Reimers third (38.825), and Swanger fourth (38.45).

Seattle Pacific was the lone Division II competitor in the MPSF Championships and took fifth with a 192.775. Ariana Harger tied for third on vault (9.775) and scored 9.825s on beam and floor. Harger was part of a SPU trio that contributed top scores on all events. Darian Burns contributed a 9.725 on vault, and 9.8s on bars and floor, while Lauren Glover contributed a 9.7 on vault, 9.8 on beam, and 9.775 on floor.

Moving on to Division III, we’re going to add some checkmarks into the “predictions Sarah was WRONG about” column. For the WIAC Championships, I predicted Whitewater winning, followed by LaCrosse, Winona State, Stout, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, Hamline, and Gustavus.

The results ended up being Whitewater (191.85), LaCrosse (188.7), Stout (188.75), Winona State (186.75), Eau Claire (186.525), Oshkosh (185.9), Gustavus (185.625), and Hamline (183.775).

Whitewater’s Lisa O’Donnell won vault (9.7), but Stout had two gymnasts in the top three: Kaylee Jondahl (9.675), and Mikala Bugge (9.625). LaCrosse’s Abby Ostrovsky won bars (9.725), followed by O’Donnell (9.675) and Gustavus’ Samantha Ardy (9.625). Oshkosh’s Baylee Tkaczuk won beam (9.675), with Whitewater’s Mackenzie Smith and Franchesca Hutton tying for second with 9.625s.

Floor was super tight, with five of the eight teams scoring between 47.4 and 47.775! Whitewater of course was miles ahead with a 48.625, and took the top two floor scores of the day with a 9.825 from Courtney Pickett and a 9.775 from O’Donnell. O’Donnell also won the all-around (38.525) with Jondahl in second (37.925).

Moving on to the NCGA East Region, where I totally nailed it, predictions-wise. Brockport won with a 191.85, followed by Ursinus (189.45), Springfield (188.825), Cortland (186.975), Ithaca (185.525), and Rhode Island (179.1).

Brockport put up some impressive, D1-quality team scores on vault (48.8) and floor (49.05). The team swept the top three vault scores with a 9.85 from Stephanie Mager, 9.8 from Candis Kowalik, and 9.775 from Jen Sklenar, who tied with Cortland’s Rachel Filipski. Brockport also swept the top three floor scores with a 9.9 from Brittany Vasile (say WHAT), 9.875 from Kowalik, and 9.825 from Sklenar. Sklenar also won the all-around (38.575).

Cortland’s Sydney McConnell won bars (9.75), followed by 9.625s from Springfield’s Jessica Clemens and Ithaca’s Baylie Trammel.

The Beam Queens of Ursinus blew everyone away (again) and posted the best team beam score of the day by over a point (47.65). It was a rough scoring day for everyone else on that event. Kaelin Ruoss won beam with a 9.7 while Springfield’s Marissa DeAngelo and Kowalik tied for second (9.65).

NCAA Regional Qualifiers from Division II and Division III

Athlete Team Events Regional
Brianna Comport Bridgeport BB, FX Morgantown
Ariana Harger Seattle Pacific VT, FX Seattle
Schyler Jones Texas Woman’s VT Fayetteville
Maya Reimers Bridgeport FX Morgantown
Kierstin Sokolowski Lindenwood VT, BB Fayetteville
Kim Stewart Bridgeport VT Morgantown
Majesta Valentine West Chester AA Morgantown
Ashley White Centenary AA Champaign

Teams Advancing to USAG Collegiate National Championships

Seed Team Conference RQS
1 Bridgeport ECAC-2 194.440
2 Lindenwood MIC 194.440
3 Texas Woman’s MIC 194.370
4 Cornell ECAC 193.885
5 Air Force MPSF 193.680
6 Yale ECAC 193.435
7 Brown ECAC 193.340
8 West Chester ECAC-2 193.095
9 Seattle Pacific MPSF 192.180

* As the host team, Seattle Pacific received an automatic team bid. Other teams qualified based on RQS.

Individuals Advancing to USAG Collegiate National Championships

Athlete Team Events
Kathleen Aberger Southern Conn. UB, BB, FX
Isabella Antonangeli Southern Conn. VT
Delia Ardoin Centenary BB
Cami Bea Austin Centenary VT, FX
Alexandra Avendano Southern Conn. VT, FX
Abigail Bensley Southern Conn. FX
Keylea Brothers Southern Conn. FX
Tiffany Coleman Southern Conn. VT
Emma Cullen Pennsylvania VT, UB
Kylyn Dawkins Southern Conn. VT, BB, FX
Tiffany Elliot Southern Conn. VT, FX
Kellie Flavin Pennsylvania VT, UB, FX
Rachel Graham Pennsylvania BB, FX
Evelyn Harris Centenary UB
Alex Hartke Pennsylvania FX
Aspen Hattley Centenary VT
Olivia Hirsch Centenary FX
Navia Jordan Centenary FX
Kasey Kilmurray Southern Conn. UB
Alex Kothe Pennsylvania UB
Taylor Le Moal Centenary VT
Alexandra Lesperance Southern Conn. VT
Kyra Levi Pennsylvania UB, FX
Tara Mills Pennsylvania VT
Caroline Mitsch Pennsylvania UB
Caroline Moore Pennsylvania VT, BB, FX
Ally Podsednik Pennyslvania VT, BB
Rotem Porat Southern Conn. UB, BB
Allison Scates Centenary UB, BB
Tavia Smith Centenary AA
Nicole Swirbalus Pennsylvania VT, BB, FX
Kelly Tan Pennsylvania BB
Ashley White Centenary AA

* Individuals qualify based on RQS.

Teams Advancing to NCGA National Championships

Seed Team Conference RQS
1 Brockport NCGA East 191.420
2 Whitewater WIAC 191.390
3 Ursinus NCGA East 190.460
4 La Crosse WIAC 190.290
5 Springfield NCGA East 188.580
6 Stout WIAC 187.345

* Teams qualified based on conference championships scores.

Individuals Advancing to USAG Collegiate National Championships

Athlete Team Event(s)
Jessica Ahrens La Crosse BB
Samantha Ardy Gustavus UB
Kendra Balcerak Ithaca BB
Dani Barmore La Crosse BB
Jessica Bernardo Oshkosh AA
Heather Brubaker Ursinus VT
Mikala Bugge Stout VT, FX
Meghan Cash Brockport UB, FX
Lauren Chavis Ursinus UB
Jess Clemens Springfield UB
Marissa DeAngelo Springfield VT, BB
Allie DeBiase Rhode Island AA
Caitlin Elsadek Brockport UB
Amy Enright La Crosse UB
Rachel Filipski Cortland VT
Bailey Finin Oshkosh FX
Katie Fiorilli Whitewater VT
McKenzie Foster Whitewater UB, BB
Bailey Gildemeyer Cortland VT, BB, FX
Skylar Haas Ursinus BB
Allison Hester Brockport UB
Kelly Huseman Stout VT
Franchesca Hutton Whitewater BB
Eboni Jackson Winona AA, BB, FX
Kelly Johnston Winona BB
Kaylee Jondahl Stout VT, FX
Taylor Keough Brockport BB, FX
Briana Kerr Springfield UB
Lauren Kershener Gustavus AA
Candis Kowalik Brockport VT, BB, FX
Alex Kopp Gustavus AA, VT
Dana LoCascio Oshkosh VT, BB
Stephanie Mager Brockport VT
Sidney McConnell Cortland UB
Kate Mierow Whitewater UB, FX
Miranda Murphy Rhode Island AA
Carolyn Nichols Ithaca VT
MacKenzie Nicholson Stout UB
Maddie O’Braitis Brockport UB
Lisa O’Donnell Whitewater VT, UB, BB, FX
Erin Olson Eau Claire FX
Abby Ostrovsky La Crosse UB
Amanda Palladino Ursinus BB
McKenna Passalacqua Cortland FX
Courtney Pickett Whitewater BB, FX
Katie Pipp Winona UB
Alexandra Puryear Ursinus FX
Chloe Rehberg Whitewater VT
Erica Roth Brockport BB
Kaelin Ruoss Ursinus UB, BB
Vanessa Scalora Ursinus BB
Bridgette Schaal Brockport VT, FX
Nicole Silva Springfield FX
Jen Sklenar Brockport VT, BB, FX
Mackenzie Smith Whitewater UB, BB
Elsa Spitzmueller La Crosse FX
Casey Sullivan Brockport VT
Lily Szafranski Cortland VT
Baylee Tkaczuk Oshkosh UB, BB
Baylie Trammell Ithaca UB
Tali Twomey Springfield FX
Brittany Vasile Brockport FX
Samantha Wiekamp La Crosse VT
Kari Willett La Crosse VT, BB, FX
Lauren Wilson La Crosse UB

* Individual competition at NCGA nationals is separate from team competition, so the majority of individual qualifiers are also part of fully qualified teams. All individuals qualify based on RQS.

Article by Sarah Keegan

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8 thoughts on “The NCAA D2 and D3 Conference Championships Recap

  1. Sorry if this is a little off topic but how could a team be D1 if it doesn’t give athletic scholarships? Isn’t that the defining criteria for D1? And if not, then what is?

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    • D1 is pretty much defined by scholarship, but the Ivy League and then I think US military schools (Army, Navy, Air Force) are exempt from that. I don’t know the reason WHY they can’t give scholarships…but yeah, they’re D1 in every other aspect.

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        • D1 schools are larger universities with huge budgets for sports. D2 also gives scholarships, but they’re generally smaller colleges and don’t have the money to spend on sports that D1 programs do. D1 basically means they’re committed to the highest possible level of athletic competition but there’s nothing that says they’re required to give scholarships…though most do because scholarships make them more competitive because no top athlete is gonna be like “nah, I don’t want a scholarship” and go to Yale because no matter how good Yale’s facilities or coaching staff or win record might be, the full ride is what seals the deal so if NCAA D1 programs decided to not offer scholarships, they’d be at a huge disadvantage (which is why most of the Ivy teams for most sports tend to not be anywhere near the level of other D1s).

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  2. Every student at the US service academies is on a full scholarship, so I guess they just don’t count the athletes as being on athletic scholarships.

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    • Yeah, that makes sense. And with the Ivy League, student athletes can get scholarships through other means (academic, need-based, philanthropic service awards, etc).

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  3. Even though the Ivy League is D1, they decided as a conference forever ago to not offer scholarships. That means athletic or academic. Need-based financial aid is the only way to go to an Ivy and not pay. I do think Lauren is right that if the Ivies offered scholarships they would move up in the rankings. I think that is why Stanford and UCLA get top girls. They get money and are in the top rankings academically too.

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    • Yeah, totally. There are a few girls who want to go the ivy route but if they’re elites or top level 10s, it doesn’t make sense for them to turn down a full ride worth $200,000 just to pay that amount at another school with a weaker program. Alicia Sacramone did it for a while, but I think that was mostly because she wanted a really strong academic program without having to leave her family and being close enough to Brestyan’s so she could keep doing elite, since Brown is like 45 minutes from where she lived. But for the most part, I think the top gymnasts who might otherwise choose an ivy definitely end up at Stanford, UCLA, and a couple of others (Washington and Cal are other good ones, and there are others, but these always stand out to me as really strong academic programs).

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