Huskers Aim for National Title
The seventh-ranked Nebraska men’s gymnastics team looks leave its mark in the NU record books this weekend at the 2017 NCAA Championships in West Point, N.Y. The Huskers hope to advance to the team finals, resulting in a top-six for the first time since 1999.
The Championships will be held April 21-22 at Christl Arena. There will be two qualifying sessions on Friday. Nebraska will compete in the first session, beginning at noon (CT), along with No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Penn State, No. 10 Air Force and No. 11 Michigan. The second session, which begins at 6 p.m. (CT) will see top-ranked Oklahoma, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 California and No. 12 Navy.
The finals will take place Saturday night beginning at 5 p.m. (CT). The top-three teams and the top-three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams, plus the top-three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor will advance to the finals from each of the two qualifying sessions.
Live stats will be available at http://www.goarmywestpoint.com/schedule.aspx?path=mgym and a live stream will be available on NCAA.com. For complete championship information, including tickets and a complete schedule of events, visit the championship central page at http://www.goarmywestpoint.com/sports/2017/4/12/2017-ncaa-mens-gymnastics-championship-central.aspx?id=541.
Inside the Competition
Nebraska must upset at least one higher-ranked team in its session to advance to the finals. The Huskers have seen four of the five teams in their session already this season. Nebraska fell to Stanford at the Pac-12 Invitational in February by a score of 422.250-408.800. NU is 1-1 against Penn State this season. At the Big Ten Championships earlier this month, NU came ahead of Michigan, but fell to Ohio State. Nebraska has not faced Air Force this season, but has a history of success against the Falcons, holding a 31-5 overall record over them.
NCAA Championship History
Last season, Nebraska finished seventh at the NCAA Championships - its best finish since 1999, when the team took third. Four Huskers earned All-America awards, including current Huskers Austin Epperson and Anton Stephenson.
In 2016, Oklahoma claimed its second consecutive national title, while Stanford finished second. Ohio State claimed third place, while Illinois earned fourth place. Penn State and Minnesota finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Individually, all but one individual national champion from 2016 returns this season to try and defend their title. Oklahoma’s Yul Moldauer claimed the all-around title, while fellow Sooner Colin Van Wicklen placed first on floor last season. Illinois’ Brandon Ngai is looking to defend his pommel horse title, while Michigan’s Anthony McCallum has the opportunity to win back-to-back vault titles. Stanford’s Akash Modi earned first on parallel bars and high bar last year.
Penn State owns the most team titles with 12, followed by Illinois and Oklahoma who each have 10. Nebraska ranks fourth with eight all-time team titles.
Illinois has the most individual titles with 59, followed by Penn State (54). Nebraska and Oklahoma are tied for third with 42 all-time individual titles.
Last Time Out
NU finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships, marking its best finish since joining the conference prior to the 2012 season. At the individual finals, Anton Stephenson claimed the vault title becoming Nebraska’s first Big Ten Champion and first conference champion since 2002. Stephenson joins Kyle King (third, vault, 2015) and Daniel Leal (second, parallel bars, 2016) as current Husker Big Ten medalists.
Huskers in the Rankings
Nebraska holds the seventh spot in both the Coaches Poll and the rankings with a national qualifying average of 411.938 and a high score of 425.550.
NU holds the No. 5 spot in the floor rankings, the sixth spot on parallel bars and the seventh spot the vault rankings. The Huskers rank in the top 10 on all other events, except from high bar, where the team ranks 12th.
Chris and Anton Stephenson are the only Huskers in the top 10 individually. Anton ranks fifth on vault, while Chris is ninth in the all-around. Anton also ranks 12th on floor and 16th on parallel bars, while Chris holds the 25th spot on parallel bars. Other Huskers in the top 25 include Antonio Castro (T11th, pommel horse), Austin Epperson (T17th, floor), Daniel Leal (17th, parallel bars), Heath Anderson (T22, still rings) and Kyle King (T23, vault).
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