Student-Athletes of the Week: Kacey Mortenson and Sam Diedrich

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Student-Athletes of the Week: Kacey Mortenson and Sam Diedrich

Picture credit: UWL Athletics. Diedrich right, Mortenson left.

Picture credit: UWL Athletics. Diedrich right, Mortenson left.

Picture credit: UWL Athletics. Diedrich right, Mortenson left.

Picture credit: UWL Athletics. Diedrich right, Mortenson left.

Trevor Kliebenstein, Sports Reporter

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On March 5, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Eagles Freshman gymnast Kacey Mortenson and Sophomore tennis player Sam Diedrich were awarded Student-Athlete of the Week. 

Kacey Mortenson 

In UWL’s dual matchup at Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.) Friday March 1, Mortenson won three titles while setting her season high in all three of these events. These titles included the all-around (37.925), uneven parallel bars (9.600) and balance beam (9.500). Mortenson also placed fourth in the vault (9.375). 

“It felt really great setting season highs in all-around, beam and bars. It was really rewarding seeing my hard work in and out of the gym pay off,” said Mortenson. 

Mortenson is a UWL Freshman, so it’s impressive to see the amount of success she’s had competing early in her UWL gymnastics career. “I have had my ups and downs throughout the season just like everyone else, but I have to just make sure I am always focused on what I need to get done,” said the Oregon, Wis. native. 

She explained that she puts her trust into her hard work in order to be successful at the college level. On top of that, her teammates have been vital in her accomplishments this year for the Eagles. “I also think having my teammates supporting me has really helped me tremendously throughout the season,” said Mortenson.  

Mortenson said, “Since I am a freshman there was a lot of new transitions I had to make coming from club gymnastics which is primarily an individual sport to the UWL gymnastics team where your actions and performances affect the team. It has been super great to have a group of 19 other girls behind me at all times and giving me the motivation to do well.” 

Along with contributing her consistent success this year to her teammates, she credited her coaches as well. “The head coach, Kasey Crawford, implements a lot of mental and leadership training which I think has helped me become more confident in my abilities as a gymnast,” she said. 

Prior to the WIAC Championships, which were held Saturday, Mortenson said her goal was to contribute points to her four events while also placing first. While the Eagles finished fourth at the championships, Mortenson still performed well, placing seventh in the all-around. Seven UWL gymnasts qualified for the NCGA championships. 

While Mortenson is undecided in her major, she’s minoring in photography since she loves going out with friends and taking pictures of them. “I’m not going to lie, it is challenging sometimes to stay on top of my homework with practice, lift, and traveling on the weekends, but what has helped me is time management,” said Mortenson. 

Besides photography, Mortenson enjoys all forms of art, hiking and lifting weights. In La Crosse, she loves hiking up to Grandad’s Bluff, shopping the Antique stores downtown, and eating Pearl Ice Cream while walking along the Mississippi River downtown.  

Although Mortenson’s season is over, the UWL gymnastics team wraps up their season when the seven qualified UWL gymnasts head to University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh March 23 to compete at the NCGA Championships. 

Sam Diedrich 

Diedrich went 4-0 last weekend with four shutout victories against Lawrence University (Wis.), Concordia University Wisconsin, Carroll University (Wis.) and University of Dubuque (Iowa). With these four victories, Diedrich helped the Eagles improve to 5-3 season. The Eagles fell to Bethel University on Friday, however, dropping their record to 5-4. 

“It felt good to get some wins. We have a lot of tough matches coming up, so it is nice to have some confidence going into those,” said the sophomore. The Eagles head to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina over spring break to play some of these tough matchups against teams from Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

Three of the Eagles five matchups in South Carolina are against University of Texas at Dallas, Ramapo College (N.J.) and Allegheny College (PA.). These three programs have a combined 8-1 record this season, so Diedrich and the Eagles will get tested.  

Diedrich has high expectations this season for the Eagles, and it all starts with displaying impressive performances in the games in South Carolina. “My goal is to keep improving and put forth my best effort each match,” stated Diedrich.  

Keeping up with homework is crucial for Diedrich’s success in his first two years playing for UWL. “Staying on top of school so I can have the time to focus on tennis is the most important thing for me,” said Diedrich. 

Diedrich added, “I try to get my school done before practice so I can focus better. It helps to take less credits during the season and more in the fall so I can balance my time more.” Diedrich’s post-college plans are still “up in the air” since his major is undecided, but he does plan on finding a job in the Minneapolis area.  

If he’s not playing tennis or studying, he will most likely be playing basketball at the Recreational Eagle Center, listening to music or going to the movie theater. Diedrich also loves hiking in La Crosse and enjoys going out to eat with friends when given the chance. His favorite place to eat in La Crosse is Iguanas, a Mexican Cafe. 

Diedrich and the UWL Tennis squad play next against the University of Texas at Dallas March 18 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. 

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