Brittany Skinner and the Huskers will close the regular season at Cal this weekend.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Close Regular Season in California

By NU Athletic Communications

No. 11 Nebraska at California
Saturday, March 16 | 9 p.m. CDT (7 p.m. PDT) | Berkeley, Calif.

The No. 11 Nebraska women's gymnastics team will close the regular season on the road this weekend, traveling west for a meet with the California Golden Bears. NU and Cal will square off on Saturday, March 16 at 7 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. CDT) in Berkeley, Calif. The meet will serve as a double dual meet and will run alongside a men's gymnastics contest between Cal and Illinois. Nebraska (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) will look to gain momentum against the Bears (7-8, 1-7 Pac-12) before heading to the Big Ten Championship meet next weekend.

With only two performances left to count toward regional seeding, the Huskers need a pair of solid performances to boost their Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) and snag favorable placement for NCAA Regional competition. NU upped their RQS to 196.565 this week with scores of 197.675 at home and 196.150 on the road last week.

Gymnast to Watch
Janelle Giblin | Sr. | San Ramon, Calif. (Airborne)

  • Returns to her home state of California for her final regular season meet as a Husker
  • Tied for 12th nationally on bars with an RQS of 9.895
  • One of just two gymnasts in the nation to post a 10.0 on bars this season

Scouting the California Golden Bears
A Glance at the Golden Bears
Head Coach: Justin Howell (First Year)
2013 Record: 7-8 (1-7 Pac-12)
2013 High Score: 195.925 (vs. Brown and San Jose State, 2/18/13)
2012 Record: 4-11
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A

The California Golden Bears will close their regular season in a dual meet with Nebraska this weekend. The Bears are 7-8 this season, including a 1-7 mark in a deep Pac-12 conference. Cal enters this weekend's dual after a third-place performance in a quad meet with No. 3 Michigan, No. 8 UCLA and Iowa State on March 10. The Bears earned a 194.925 to topple Iowa State while finishing behind Michigan and UCLA. The squad's high score of the year (195.925) came in a first-place effort against Brown and San Jose State on Feb. 18.

Cal has been led in 2013 by all-arounder Alicia Asturias, who has captured a pair of all-around titles for the Bears in her junior campaign. Asturias is ranked 24th nationally in all-around competition, holding an RQS of 39.235. Her top effort this season was a 39.375 showing in Cal's tri-meet win over Brown and San Jose State.

Head Coach Justin Howell is in his first season at the helm of the Cal program after taking over for current Georgia head coach and previous Nebraska assistant Danna Durante. Howell is joined in the gym by Assistant Coach Elisabeth Crandall.

Nebraska's Rotation Order at California
Uneven Bars, Vault, Floor Exercise, Balance Beam
Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise

Huskers Finish Third at Minnesota
NU finished third in a quad meet with No. 14 Minnesota, No. 24 Arkansas and Centenary on March 9, earning a team score of 196.150. Minnesota took first overall at 196.600, with Arkansas picking up second (196.350) and Centenary finishing fourth (190.425). The Huskers battled uncharacteristic errors on several events but still counted multiple strong performances.

"This is obviously not what we came in here to do," Head Coach Dan Kendig said. "It's not what I expected, especially since we came in with a high confidence level. We had mistakes everywhere. The big message here is that it's not what happened, it's how we react to it and what we do with it. If this doesn't motivate us to do better things, I don't know what will."

Jessie DeZiel led all Huskers on the evening, tying for first in the all-around with a 39.475 effort in front of her home state crowd. DeZiel's effort included finishes of first on vault (9.95) and bars (9.925), as well as third on beam (9.85). Emily Wong joined DeZiel with top-two finishes, tying for second on vault (9.90) and finishing second on floor (9.90). Janelle Giblin added a top-three finish with a 9.875 on bars.

The Huskers started the evening on bars, posting their highest road score of the season at 49.200. NU was led by DeZiel, who soared to a career-best-tying score of 9.925. Giblin followed up with a 9.875 for the Big Red bars squad, while freshman Hollie Blanske picked up a 9.825 on the event.

Nebraska battled uncharacteristic struggles in their second rotation on beam, fighting to their lowest total of the season at 48.550. NU was led by identical 9.85s from a duo of sophomores in DeZiel and Jennifer Lauer. Wong tacked on a 9.825 for the Huskers.

The Huskers took to floor for their third rotation of the night, picking up a 49.075 team mark. Wong led all Huskers with a 9.90, followed by Jennifer Lauer's mark of 9.825. Brittany Skinner and Blanske also snagged identical scores of 9.80 for NU.

The Huskers displayed great mental toughness in their final rotation, posting one of their best vault scores this season with a 49.375. DeZiel led the way for NU, earning a stellar 9.95. Wong followed close behind with a powerful 9.90, while Desiré Stephens and Blanske each tacked on career-high marks of 9.85

Huskers Up One Spot to No. 11
Nebraska jumped one spot to No. 11 in the latest GymInfo rankings, released March 11. The Huskers upped their RQS to 196.565 to edge closer to the nation's top-10 this week. NU also pulled down top-15 rankings on three of four events as a team, including a five-spot jump up to 10th nationally on vault (49.260). The Huskers added in rankings of 11th on beam (49.080), 12th on bars (49.195) and a tie for 16th on floor (49.155).

Oklahoma retook top honors in this week's rankings, delivering an RQS of 197.570. Florida followed close behind in the No. 2 spot (197.440), while Michigan filled out the top three (197.175). Alabama continued its steady rise up the rankings as it secured the No. 4 spot (197.125), and LSU came in at No. 5 nationally (197.055).

NU saw some new faces and big jumps in the individual rankings this week, but Emily Wong held steady with her four appearances. Wong is eighth nationally in the all-around (39.465), including a tie for eighth on floor (9.910), 15th on beam (9.875) and 20th on bars (9.875). Jessie DeZiel joined Wong as Huskers in the top-10 this week, appearing at 10th in the all-around (39.380) and 19th on bars (9.880). Janelle Giblin earned her first appearance in the top-25 on bars this week, tying for 12th overall (9.895). Jennifer Lauer reentered the rankings as well, tying for 22nd on beam (9.870).

Up Next for Nebraska
The Huskers will open postseason competition next weekend as they head east to compete in the Big Ten Championships. This year's meet is hosted by Michigan State and will be held in East Lansing, Mich., at the Breslin Center. The event will run in two session, with session I beginning at Noon CDT and session II starting at 5 p.m. CDT. Both sessions will be broadcast live on BTN.

Nebraska will enter the Big Ten Championship meet looking to defend their 2012 conference title. The Huskers posted a conference-best 197.100 at last season's championship meet, while senior Emily Wong took home the Big Ten all-around title with a 39.600 performance.

DeZiel, Giblin Capture Big Ten Awards
The Big Ten offices announced Monday that Jessie DeZiel and Janelle Giblin captured Big Ten honors for their performances throughout the previous week. DeZiel earned her second conference Co-Gymnast of the Week award this season, while Giblin captured her third Event Specialist of the Week accolade.

DeZiel earned her Co-Gymnast of the Week honor after capturing two all-around titles in two meets last weekend, including a career-best mark of 39.675 against Iowa. She also tied for the all-around title last Saturday, posting a 39.475 in her home state of Minnesota to finish even with Arkansas' Katherine Grable. DeZiel earned or tied for five event titles over the course of the two meets while matching her career-highs on vault (9.95) and uneven bars (9.925) in both contests. She also logged two third-place finishes on bars and beam in that span of time. The honor was DeZiel's fourth career accolade and her 14th weekly award overall; she shared last week's title with Michigan's Joanna Sampson.

Giblin picked up her third Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week honor this season after posting a career-high 10.0 on bars against Iowa on Feb. 22. Her 10.0 on bars was only the second in the nation this season and the second in Nebraska program history. It also marked NU's first 10.0 on any event since 2011. Giblin's performance boosted Nebraska to a 49.625 on bars, the second-highest team bars score in program history. She earned three additional top-three finishes through both meets, including tying her career-best on beam to win the title against Iowa (9.875). The award marked her third career weekly honor.

All-Around Outstanding
Throughout the 2013 season, Emily Wong and Jessie DeZiel have set themselves apart as two of the top all-around competitors in the nation. Both Huskers are ranked in the top ten nationally in all-around competition, with Wong coming in at eighth (39.465) and DeZiel earning the No. 10 spot (39.380). Nebraska joins Oklahoma as one of only two schools in the nation to have two all-around competitors ranked in the top-10.

Wong and DeZiel have captured a total of nine all-around titles in ten meets and have scored a 39.600 or higher in all-around competition a combined four times this season. Only nine total gymnasts nationally have broken the 39.600 threshold this season. Wong was one of the first three gymnasts in the nation to do so, posting a 39.650 against Michigan State on Jan. 39 to join Florida's Kytra Hunter and UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa.

Both Wong and DeZiel turned in career-best performances in Nebraska's win over Iowa. The duo went head-to-head in all-around competition, emerging with identical scores of 39.675. DeZiel and Wong started out tied with meet-best 9.95s on vault and traded event titles for the rest of the day: Wong earned top honors on vault and floor (9.925), while DeZiel took first on vault, beam (9.875) and floor (9.925).

Victorious on Vault
Assistant Coach Dan Miller's vaulting corps have come to serve as one of Nebraska's strengths this season after improving the quality of individual landings each week. With an RQS on the event of 49.260 and a team high score of 49.400, the Huskers are ranked 10th nationally on the event after hitting their rhythm on the apparatus in the last two weeks.

In NU's two previous meets, the Big Red logged a season-high score of 49.400 against Iowa before matching their second-best score of the season with a 49.375 at Minnesota. DeZiel led the Huskers in both efforts, tying her career-high of 9.95 in both meets. Wong added stellar performances of 9.95 and 9.90 in NU's last two outings as well. Nebraska has relied on other top marks from multiple Huskers, including identical career-best 9.85s from Desiré Stephens and Hollie Blanske on the road at Minnesota.

One of the Best, Bar None
Nebraska's consistent work on bars has transformed the event into one of NU's most dependable scoring threats on a week-by-week basis, particularly during the last three meets of the season. Since Feb. 22, the Huskers have posted bars scores of 49.325, 49.625 and 49.200 to bump their RQS up to 49.195. The team's efforts have translated in the gym as well: NU is 6-1 this season when winning the bars in team competition.

The highlight of NU's bars performances this season came at home against Iowa, when Kendig's squad used outstanding performances from all six competitors on uneven bars to seal a team score of 49.625. Of Nebraska's six gymnasts on the even, five posted or tied career-bests on bars to aid the Big Red--including a perfect 10.0 from Janelle Giblin.

Giblin was narrowly trailed by Emily Wong's 9.95 outing on the event. The performance marked the second time this season Wong has picked up a 9.95 on bars.

Jessie DeZiel added a new career-best on the evening, posting a 9.925. DeZiel had posted her previous best of 9.90 four times before shattering that mark against the Hawkeyes.

Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner earned identical scores of 9.875 on the evening. Nathe anchored Nebraska's efforts on bar with her performance, topping her previous career-high of 9.85 that she had most recently posted at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Skinner's effort tied her career-best, marking the second time this season she has done so.

Nebraska's efforts added up to a team mark of 49.625, the second-highest bars score posted in the nation this season. The score is also the second-highest in school history, trailing only Nebraska's effort of 49.725 posted at the 2001 Big 12 Championships.

Six All-Americans Poised to Lead Huskers in 2013
NU's efforts this season have been anchored by its six returning All-Americans, including three honorees that captured eight awards last season. Jessie DeZiel, Janelle Giblin and Emily Wong headline a group that has won 16 awards since 2010 and also includes seniors Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner and junior Jamie Schleppenbach.

Nebraska will look for sustained success from its vaulting corps as it fields four previous All-Americans. The group is led by 2012 first-team All-American Giblin and second-team honoree DeZiel alongside previous first-teamers Schleppenbach and Skinner.

The Huskers will also welcome back three previous All-Americans in both all-around competition and on uneven bars. Notably returning to the competition floor on bars this season is 2010 second-team All-American Nathe, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury. Nathe is expected to provide a spark as well as depth to NU's bar lineup in 2013. Nebraska returns two All-Americans on floor and beam as well.

Kendig Architect of One of Nation's Top Programs
Now in his 20th year at the helm of the Nebraska gymnastics program, Head Coach Dan Kendig is the all-time winningest coach in Nebraska history. Kendig holds a 448-173-4 record overall and a  299-71-2 regular-season mark. An eight-time conference coach of the year selection, Kendig most recently earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors last season after guiding the 2012 Huskers to the program's 22nd conference title.

Kendig has also led the Huskers to 15 NCAA Championship appearances in the past 18 season, including NCAA Super Six Finals appearances in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011. Kendig was honored as the NCAA Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2003, a year in which the Huskers finished fourth nationally. He guided the 2012 Huskers to a 24-7 record overall, including an eighth-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga. The performance marked Nebraska's 28th consecutive NCAA post season appearance, while three of Kendig's gymnasts--Jessie DeZiel (FX, AA, V), Janelle Giblin (V, UB) and Emily Wong (BB, FX, AA)--earned All-America honors.

NU Assistants Boost Husker Efforts in 2013
Joining Kendig in his leadership of the Huskers this season are second-year assistant coaches Heather Brink and Dan Miller. Brink continues her role in the gym as the team's beam coach while assisting with floor choreography. Brink has boosted Nebraska's scores on beam this season while guiding Jennifer Lauer and Emily Wong to a combined six titles on the event. In her first season as an assistant with the Huskers, Brink helped coach Emily Wong to first-team All-America honors on beam. Brink's assistance with NU's floor routines also guided Jessie DeZiel to first-team All-America honors and Wong to second-team honors on the event.

Miller continues to lead NU's efforts on vault and floor in 2013. Miller's gymnasts have snagged 10 titles on vault and eight on floor this season. During his first season at Nebraska in 2012, Miller guided DeZiel to first-team All-America honors on floor and second-team honors on vault. He also assisted in the development of Janelle Giblin, who earned first-team honors on vault, and Wong, who picked up second-team honors on floor. The gymnasts under Miller's tutelage in 2012 garnered a total of 15 floor titles and 14 vault titles throughout the season.

Volunteer assistant coach Owen Field, now in his third season in that position, aids NU's full-time staff in 2013. Field will assist head coach Dan Kendig on the uneven bars while also working with the Huskers' strength and conditioning program.

Huskers Sign two for 2014
The Huskers announced the addition of a pair of multi-talented recruits for 2014 in November. Dan Kendig and the Big Red will welcome Ashley Lambert and Jennie Laeng next year, rounding out the Husker roster and giving the Huskers increased depth and new skills in their lineup.

"We are very excited about the signing of both Ashley and Jennie," Kendig said. "They will both bring a vast amount of experience and skill to our team next year. They complement each other extremely well: Ashley is powerful and her best events are floor and vault, while Jennie will be a force on bars and beam."

A native of Virginia, Lambert is a level ten gymnast that has trained at World Class Gymnastics under coaches Tami Harrison and Troy Miller. Lambert is a four-time Junior Olympic National Qualifier. In 2012, she notched a fifth-place finish in all-around competition and a second-place finish on floor at Regionals. Lambert also picked up a third-place finish in all-around at the Regional level in 2011 that included first-place finishes on vault and floor.

A level ten gymnast from Ohio, Laeng trains at Olympic Dreams Gymnastics and has qualified for both Junior Olympic Nationals and the Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament. In 2011, Laeng finished first in all-around and beam competition at the Junior Olympic National Invitational. She added a fifth-place finish on bars and seventh on beam at the 2012 Junior Olympic National Championship.


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