Story by Ashley Hofer and Nick Gourdoux

Overtime is a weekly prediction column where sports editor Ashley Hofer and staff writer Nick Gourdoux make their picks concerning upcoming sporting events. Questions about Blugold outcomes comprise the first four quarters, while the overtime question poses a national scenario. The staffer with the most correct picks wins the all-important bragging rights for the week.

Last week was a close battle between Ashley and Nick. They both correctly picked three outcomes and added another tally to the tie column. While both tripped up on the gymnastics outcome, it was women’s track and field that gave Nick problems. In Ashley’s case, it was another wrong guess about the NBA that left her with just three right picks. Ashley’s overall lead is at stake this week, but Nick will have to win without the help of a pro basketball question.

First Quarter – How will the gymnastics team finish in the WIAC championship? (A) First through third (B) Fourth through sixth (C) Seventh or eighth

Ashley: Eau Claire gymnasts have been on a roll. Last weekend they picked up their third dual-meet win in a row. Of the schools participating in the meet, the Blugolds have beaten several of them this season – including UW-Stout, Gustavus Adolphus and UW-Oshkosh in the last two weekends. I think the gymnasts will come back from Gustavus with a solid showing. My pick: (B) Fourth through sixth.

Nick: The Blugolds have had, in general, a poor showing against other WIAC teams. The gymnasts lost to UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse in January, took second of three in the Gershon/McLellan Invite – in which they competed against UW-Oshkosh and La Crosse – and took last place in the John Zuerlein Invite – competing against Oshkosh, La Crosse and UW-Stout. As Ashley pointed out, the team did just beat Stout and Oshkosh, but I don’t think they can repeat their performance. My pick: (C) Seventh or eighth.

Second Quarter – How many wins will the men’s tennis team get this weekend (A) Four or five (B) Two or three (C) Zero or one

Ashley: The men’s tennis team is going to be busy, busy, busy this weekend. With a total of five meets away and at home, the Blugolds will be all over the place on Friday and Saturday. The team has been strong early into the season, and I see that continuing. This weekend will give more of the team a chance to play and will really show its depth. The men picked up three wins last weekend, and I think this will be another good weekend for the Blugolds. My pick: (A) Four or five.

Nick: The men’s tennis team has lost only twice this season, and those came nearly a month ago. I have no reason not to expect at least four victories for the Blugolds this week – especially since three of the meets are at home. My pick: (A) Four or five.

Third Quarter – Who will win more individual events at the Stevens Point Last Chance meet? (A) Women’s track and field (B) Men’s track and field

Ashley: This event is truly a last chance – it’s the athletes’ final opportunity to qualify for the national competition. After the WIAC championships last week, both teams did well, but the women picked up more wins and top three finishes than the men’s team did. They finished second overall, compared to the men’s fifth-place effort. I think the women are going to perform better than the men again this week. And if that reasoning isn’t good enough, the women’s team won this question for me last week, so why not? My pick: (A) Women’s track and field.

Nick: I believe I picked the men to come out ahead of the women last week, and I was wrong. Still, with the exception of last week, the men have had a better season. I expect them to rebound and finish higher as they look to extend their season. My pick (B) Men’s track and field.

Fourth Quarter – How many matches will the men’s tennis team win against St. Norbert College Friday night? (A) Eight or nine (B) six or seven (C) four or five (D) three or less

Ashley: As I noted earlier, men’s tennis has been good this year. St. Norbert College has been just average. They have a 4-6 record and although they won their last two by decent margins, they also lost pretty badly to three UW schools a couple of weeks ago. When the Blugolds win, they usually win pretty decidedly. And the match is in Eau Claire, which is always a plus. My pick: (A) Eight or nine.

Nick: The Blugolds have won at least three matches in every meet this season, so I’m eliminating D as an option right away. All but one of the Blugold victories have been by either 8-1 or 9-0 margins. The two losses this season and one victory have all been 5-4 matches. This match is definitely winnable for the Blugolds, and I think they’ll win big. My pick: (A) Eight or nine.

Overtime – Will Jimmie Johnson pick up his third straight win this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway (A) Yes (B) No

Ashley: Winning in a sport (yes, a sport) as competitive as NASCAR is difficult enough, so picking up several victories in a row is a real challenge. But then again, if someone is going to defy reality, it would be Jimmie Johnson, the first driver to win four championships in a row. The history is there: Atlanta has been kind to Johnson and he has seven top ten finishes there since 2005. And Johnson did win four races in a row in 2007 – with one of those wins coming at Atlanta. Still, I think someone else will be in victory lane Sunday afternoon. My pick: (B) No.

Nick: I don’t follow NASCAR, mainly because it isn’t a sport. I’m going to save you valuable time by not throwing out a load of crap as to why I picked the way I picked, and just say no, he won’t win. My pick: (B) No.