Teams across the state have started practice this week, and the road to the Resch Center officially begins. After a strong presence by G-E-T over the past several seasons, the 2019-20 Coulee conference race looks to go through Arcadia as they return several starters and key players that led them to a pretty successful 2018-19 season.

Last season's standings:
G-E-T - 24-3 (11-1), Lost in D3 state semifinal to Marshall
Arcadia - 19-5 (9-3), Lost in D3 sectional final to G-E-T
Westby - 14-9 (8-4), Lost in D3 regional semifinal to Elk Mound
West Salem - 13-10 (7-5), Lost in D3 regional semifinal to Arcadia
Luther - 10-14 (5-7), Lost in D4 regional semifinal to Mineral Point
BRF - 3-19 (2-10), Lost in D3 regional quarterfinal to Altoona
Viroqua - 1-21 (0-12), Lost in D3 regional quarterfinal to Elk Mound

G-E-T loses POY Lexi Wagner, 2nd team all-conference members Molly Schmitz and Olivia Zielke, honorable mention Macy Doerr, and a solid defender off the bench in Kate Kulas to graduation. They return three honorable mentions, including two starters Alexa Hammond and Cassy Schmitz, and a freshman bench player Genna O'Neill. Other notable returning players include Rachel Amoth and Lindsey Lettner, who both got quite a bit of playing time last season.
G-E-T's schedule is pretty tough. Early on they face D4 runner-up Melrose-Mindoro, Onalaska, Bangor, and D3 runner-up Laconia. The last half of their schedule isn't too tough, with Altoona and Holmen posing as potential non-conference threats. On G-E-T's WSN page, Prescott is listed in their schedule, but it would appear that they will not be playing each other this season. Their biggest challenge will be defending their conference champion status from the past five seasons. A 20-win season will likely be out of reach for G-E-T, but expect around 16 wins for the Lady Red Hawks this season.

Arcadia loses starter Nicole Madden as well as three bench players Brook Doenier, Brooke Pronschinske, and Olivia Schlesser to graduation, none of whom received all-conference recognition. The Raiders return two 1st team selections in Linzy Sendelbach and Ellie Hoesley, 2nd team member Mercedes Romo, and honorable mention Chloe Halvorson. Other notable returnees include Ali Pronschinski and Hailey Sonsalla, who both chipped in an average of two points per game.
Arcadia's schedule is pretty good as well. They have MVC opponents Onalaska and Holmen back to back early in the season, and they will see Bangor and Altoona as well. Right now, it would appear Arcadia is the favorite to take the Coulee crown, but not without some competition. 20+ wins is very possible for Arcadia.

Westby loses sole senior Lauren Jacobs, and I can't remember if she started or came off the bench. This team returns 2nd team duo Macy Stellner and Grace Hebel and honorable mention McKenna Manske. Other talented players returning include Mollie Stenslien, Alayna Winterfield, and Claire Griffin.
Westby's non-con lineup will no doubt be a test. Solid D3 teams in Wisconsin Dells and Prairie du Chien, as well as Holmen are some of the tougher teams they will face, and don't sleep on Cashton as they look to compete in the Scenic Bluffs this season. This team has a chance to challenge the better teams in the conference, and a share or outright championship is not unrealistic for the Lady Norsemen. I like the chances of Westby winning 15-18 games.

West Salem had a bit of an off year in terms of conference standings. They will miss 1st team selection Brooke Bentzen, starter Sierra Szymasnki, and reserve Olivia Haun to graduation. They do bring a lot of returning players including honorable mentions Kara Gavaghan and Abbie Cavadini. Starter Kendell Gerke, Maddie Quick, Paige Wiedemann, and Alyssa Gilster all look to contribute to the Panthers as well this season.
West Salem has quite the difficult schedule. For the first four games of the season, they face Onalaska, Osseo-Fairchild, Holmen, and Bangor. They should roll through their Holiday tournament, but La Crosse Central and Altoona could give them some troubles later in the season. This team could do very well, but right now I'm a little skeptical. I think they will win 12-16 games this season.

Luther loses 1st team member Kaitlyn Kennedy as well as starter Cynda Prostman and bench players Skylar Kasten and Cianna Hoppe. The only all-conference returnee is Grace Manke. The Lady Knights return a number of other players including Annabelle and Rachel Koenig, Emily Wintrone, and Jenna Wahl, who each got to play a decent amount last season.
The Lady Knights feature a very difficult schedule. Bangor, Necedah, and Cashton are three really good programs in the Scenic Bluffs, and those happen to be their first three games. Minnesota's La Crescent and Lewiston-Altura will prove difficult for Luther as well as Melrose-Mindoro. I'm not sure where this team will end up especially after losing a leader like Kaitlyn Kennedy. 10 wins will be a challenge for Luther this season.

Black River Falls loses a duo of honorable mentions in Mady McCormick and Abby Ross, who led a team of very young players. According to the discussions on the thread for last season's review, it is unsure who all is returning for the Tigers. It really is unfortunate as they had a number of younger players step up at times. Some of these players include Jordyn Briggs, Katie Dobson, McKenna Dutton, and Makayla Nortman.
They will certainly struggle with their non-conference schedule, featuring teams like Blair-Taylor, La Crosse Central, Osseo-Fairchild, La Crescent, and Nekoosa. There are a couple winnable ones in there, however, like Alma Center Lincoln, Sparta, La Crosse Logan, and Mauston. They have a chance to catch up to Luther this season, but we will see. I can see BRF winning 3-6 games this season.

Viroqua had no players recognized in the all-conference selections. They will lose a total of five seniors, though I cannot remember who started for Viroqua last season. They have a few promising returning players including leading scorer Hallie Sherry, Jessica Tryggestad, Vanessa Lohr, and Josie Dobbs.
Viroqua will struggle with just about any team they face. Some winnable games include De Soto, Mauston, and Sparta. It looks like Viroqua will unfortunately remain at the bottom of the standings, but perhaps some players might step up for a better-than-expected season. More than 2 wins will be tough for the Blackhawks.

Projected Standings:
1. Arcadia - 20-2 (11-1) - I think this team will drop a couple games early on to Onalaska and at Westby before finding their stride for the rest of the season.
2. G-E-T - 16-6 (9-3) - G-E-T loses early to Mel-Min and Onalaska. Laconia will be a pretty even match, but I think they will lose that along with dropping a game at West Salem and losing twice to Arcadia.
3. Westby - 16-6 (8-4) - Westby will get hot really quickly going 7-0 before losing to PDC, G-E-T twice, at Arcadia, at West Salem, and at Holmen.
4. West Salem - 14-8 (8-4) - West Salem starts 0-3 with losses to Onalaska, Osseo-Fairchild, and Holmen. The remaining losses are much more spread out with losing to Arcadia twice, at G-E-T, and at Westby.
5. Luther - 8-14 (4-8) - Reminiscent of last season, I think Luther will start out 0-6 before bouncing back. Losses include Bangor, Necedah, Cashton, G-E-T x2, La Crescent, West Salem x2, Arcadia x2, Mel-Min, Westby x2, and Lewiston-Altura.
6. BRF - 4-18 (2-10) - BRF gets some W's sprinkled around the season including at Alma Center, at Mauston, and Viroqua twice. They should be competitive with the duo of MVC teams like Sparta and Logan, but I'm not sure they can come away with wins.
7. Viroqua - 2-20 (0-12) - Viroqua will get a pair of wins. The first at De Soto and the second much later on against Mauston.

The sectionals have changed quite a bit this season as the coulee is split up a little. Westby and Viroqua were moved down to the Madison area teams while Prescott and Ellsworth joined the Coulee/South Central half of the first section.

Section 1B of D3:
Elk Mound
West Salem

I like the chances of Arcadia, Prescott, Elk Mound, or G-E-T to represent this half in the sectional final against the rest of the Middle Border and HON. Altoona, West Salem, and possibly Nekoosa will be some other good teams to watch. Adams-Friendship, BRF, Mauston, and Ellsworth will fight for the bottom four seeds.

Section 3A of D3:
Prairie du Chien
Richland Center
River Valley
Wisconsin Dells

This half of section 3 is loaded. Teams to look out for include Edgewood, Evansville, Lodi, Platteville, PDC, Westby, and maybe Brodhead? I don't think the Dells or Richland Center will be very good this season, but time will tell. Bottom seeds likely include Dogeville, River Valley, and Viroqua.

Luther is in the first half of section 3 in D4, paired with Southwest WI/Madison-area teams and Aquinas. They will get a middle to low seed most likely.

The Coulee will probably see some shake-ups this season. I really like Arcadia's chances to be one of the dominant teams in D3 this season. Westby brings back a majority of their team, and G-E-T and West Salem lose a couple starters that they could struggle to replace. Luther, BRF, and Viroqua will be led by their young players, and inexperience could define each of these teams. Maybe another Coulee team will be represented at state this year....
Woah, it's been awhile

Twitter: @mpzflame
Occasional scores for G-E-T Red Hawks football, girls and boys basketball #birdgang
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George Stacy
Nice breakdown. Hard not to go with Arcadia.
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