UW-Whitewater gymnastics junior Lisa O’Donnell placed 11th in the all-around competition with a score of 38.750 April 7 at the NCAA Minneapolis Regional at the University of Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion.
O’Donnell, who was one of four D-III gymnasts to compete in front of a crowd of 4,700 against D-I gymnasts from Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Denver, Kentucky and No.1 ranked Oklahoma.
“The energy was a lot different than every single meet that I’ve ever been to, even at nationals,” O’Donnell said. “It was super loud and there were so many people in the stands. It was so cool seeing the people that I watch on TV, and I was rotating with them.”
O’Donnell’s best score came on the floor exercise with a 9.800, outscoring eight D-I opponents en route to a 30th place finish.
“I kind of had a feeling that it was going to be a good routine because the floor was really nice,” O’Donnell. “And I was following Maggie Nichols, so I didn’t have much to lose. I really just went out there and had such a good time; I think that’s why I did so well.”
Nichols, who is member of Oklahoma, finished with the top score in the all-around competition with a 39.775.
“For her to be there on the floor and represent UW-Whitewater is a huge accomplishment,” UW-Whitewater gymnastics head coach Jennifer Regan said. “Oklahoma told us we did a great job, and that’s coming from the No. 1 team in the country. The overall experience for her to be there and see that, and enjoy herself and have a good time, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
O’Donnell recorded a 9.600 on both the vault and uneven parallel bars, good for 39th place and 35th place, respectively. On balance beam, O’Donnell scored a 9.650.
“I’m so proud of her, because she went 4-for-4,” Regan said. “She traveled (in rotation) with the No. 1 team in the country today. She could have easily gotten really nervous, and she didn’t.”
Along with her 11th place finish at the NCAAs, O’Donnell’s 2018 season was highlighted with an all-around national championship at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA), defending her title from 2017. She also helped the Warhawks capture their second straight team national championship at the NCGA.
“I’m really just happy with ending my season with us winning nationals,” O’Donnell said. “I just feel like this is icing on the cake. I’m really proud of how I did today, but it was just for fun mostly.”