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Looking at successful Wisconsin athletics programs, breakout Badgers next season

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More roundtable discussion with our writers! Chime in with your thoughts!

Dan Sanger

While we continue to push and trudge through this 2019 “offseason”—as we wait for both Joey and Sam Hauser’s announcement of their next college basketball destination and the start of the Wisconsin football season in less than 100 days—our group of writers came together earlier this week to discuss some random topics that we will also throw out to you, the Bucky’s 5th Quarter community.

Two topics down in two days. The next couple of questions for our writers to break down:

Heading into the 2019-20 athletic calendar, which Wisconsin sports programs are in position to be the most successful?

Drew Hamm: Volleyball and women’s hockey.

Tyler Hunt: I mean women’s hockey is a powerhouse, so them.

Bob Wiedenhoeft: Glad someone else said it, but yeah, women’s hockey.

Neal Olson: For sure, the women’s hockey team.

Jake Kocorowski: Defending national champs.

Tyler: Hard to argue anyone else when they’ve got that Natty trophy sitting there.

Bob: It’s going to be a tough season for them next year. Pankowski took over the NCAA tournament. Losing her and several others will be a challenge. Still will be a top 4 program. Returning goalie [Kristen] Campbell is huge.

Tyler: Wisconsin baseball could be really ..... *cries into pillow* someday, someday.

Jake: I honestly thought about making a baseball question but decided not to.

Bob: After this weekend, I’m very excited to see what softball can do. Would love to see them host a regional in a year.

Jake: If I’m not mistaken Bob, the softball squad has some key returners, correct?

Bob: Yes, it will be a strong team again. [Big Ten Player of the Year] Kayla Konwent, [pitcher Kaitlyn] Menz, [first-team All-Big Ten] Taylor Johnson all back. I feel the most urgency with Volleyball. They need to crack into the Final Four.

Jake: That volleyball team will be interesting to watch.

Piggybacking off of the last question—in your opinion, who is the breakout student athlete across all Wisconsin sports programs for the 2019-20 athletic calendar?

Drew: MERTZ MERTZ MERTZ

Tyler: All aboard the Nate Reuver’s domination train.

Neal: Boy I want to take Mertz so bad here...

Jake: He’s got Jack Coan standing in his way.

Neal: But Tyler is right, Reuvers seems more likely candidate.

Jake: And honestly after watching spring ball, I really started liking Chase Wolf’s abilities more.

Tyler: He’s been good, but with no Ethan Happ, I think Reuvers dominates. At least I really hope.

Drew: ::throws up NWO Wolfpac sign::

Tyler: I’ve heard good things about Wolf, too. Could be interesting.

Jake: The Wolfpac theme is now stuck in my head all week.

Bob: I think Mertz is possible, but it’s also possible he barely plays. I’m going with Imani Lewis. 12.2 points per game last season, but was the most electric player I’ve seen from women’s basketball in a while. The team graduates Kelly Karlis and Marsha Howard, so Lewis will be the centerpiece in her sophomore season.

Jake: That’s a great callout, Bob.

Bob: Thanks!

Jake: I think Reuvers is a big choice here for basketball, but I also want to think about Ohio State big man transfer Micah Potter as well. If he can provide some shooting touch and inside presence whenever he’s eligible to return.

Drew: ::looks around:: Can we say a Hauser?

Bob: I think everyone is right so far. Drew, the Hausers won’t play in 2019-20 no matter where they are.

Jake: Right—unless there’s some waiver that allows them to play immediately.

Drew: Don’t burden me with the facts, Bob!

Bob: Sorry Drew.

Neal: Well seems basketball team is certainly ready for a breakout.

Bob: Amen.

Tyler: I truly truly hope so.

Jake: Like Bob did for women’s basketball, I do wonder about other sports that we are working to focus on as well with volleyball, softball, women’s hockey and more.

Bob: I don’t see a big breakout for women’s hockey (Britta Curl and Sophie Shirley already are stars), and I think Konwent already broke out this season for softball.

You know the drill—now it’s time to hear from you, our community. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!