No. 7 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan
Saturday, Jan. 12 | 3 p.m. CST
Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Arena)
The No. 7 Nebraska women's gymnastics team will open their 2013 season this weekend against conference foe Michigan. The Huskers will face the 10th-ranked Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Mich., at 3 p.m. CST in the Crisler Arena. Michigan will provide two options for fans following the meet from home: fans can either access free live stats on Michigan's website, or they may pay a one-time fee to view live video of the competition. Both options will be available on MGoBlue.com
This weekend's matchup will feature the Big Ten's top preseason teams, as the Huskers and Michigan were picked to finish 1-2 the conference preseason coaches' poll. Nebraska holds a 21-17-1 advantage all-time over Michigan. NU and UM last met at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, where the Nebraska defeated the Wolverines 197.100-195.875.
Scouting the No. 10 Michigan Wolverines
A Glance at the Wolverines
Head Coach: Bev Plocki (24th year)
2013 Record: 2-0 (0-0 Big Ten)
2013 High Score: 196.575 (Cancun Classic, 1/5/12)
2012 Record: 16-10
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A
The 10th-ranked Michigan Wolverines are off to a strong start in 2013 after opening with a 196.575 at the Cancun Classic last weekend. The score elevated the Wolverines to 2-0 after defeating No. 9 Oregon and BYU at the invitational. UM's score bests the squad's top mark of 2012 (196.325) and tied No. 3 Florida for the nation's highest team score in the opening weekend. Michigan was paced by junior Joanna Sampson, who finished with a mark of 39.425 to capture the all-around title. The Wolverines swept top honors on all four apparatuses, including first-place finishes by Sampson on vault and bars.
The Wolverines entered 2013 following a fourth-place conference finish and a third-place NCAA regional performance in 2012. UM scored a 195.875 to finish third overall at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, followed by a season-high 196.425 at the NCAA Auburn Regional in April.
Michigan returns 10 performers from last season's squad while adding four newcomers to the roster for 2013. Among Michigan's top returners is Sampson, a 2013 Big Ten Preseason Gymnast to Watch. Sampson, a two-time NCAA Regional vault champion and an individual qualifier for the 2012 NCAA Championships on vault, ranks among the conference's best vaulters and will contend for All-America honors on the event this season.
Nebraska's Rotation Order at Michigan
Uneven Bars, Vault, Floor Exercise, Balance Beam
Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise
Defending Conference Champions Look for Continued Success
After winning its second consecutive conference title and its first in the Big Ten, Nebraska returns to the gym with even higher expectations for 2013. NU will welcome back seven total letterwinners from last season, including six All-Americans, while adding four newcomers to the roster. With a solid core of veterans and a stockpile of talent and depth, Head Coach Dan Kendig believes his 20th season with the Huskers has the makings of a top team on the national scene.
"We've come a long way since the beginning of the year and put in a lot of work in the gym, the community and the classroom," Kendig said. "Top to bottom, this season can be better than last season. If we keep working hard each day and getting better, I see good things on the horizon for this year."
Six All-Americans Poised to Lead Huskers in 2013
NU's efforts this season will be 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.
Preseason Polling: Huskers Seventh Nationally, First in Big Ten
The Huskers received a ranking of No. 7 nationally in the GymInfo 2013 Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced in early December. NU was awarded the ranking after finishing eighth at the 2012 NCAA Championships and first in the Big Ten conference last season.
Four of the top five vote-earning teams were NCAA Super Six finalists in 2012. Two-time defending national champion Alabama captured the No. 1 spot in the poll, followed by No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 Florida.
In addition to their seventh-place national ranking, the Huskers were named the preseason favorite in the Big Ten for the 2013 season, the conference office announced in December. The defending Big Ten champion Huskers were picked to finish first by conference coaches for the second consecutive year. Michigan, Nebraska's opponent this weekend, earned the No. 2 spot in the poll. Ohio State (No. 3), Penn State (No. 4) and Minnesota (No. 5) rounded out the top five.
DeZiel, Wong Named Gymnasts to Watch
In addition to Nebraska's No. 1 preseason conference ranking, Huskers Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong were named Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch for the 2013 season.
A sophomore from Rogers, Minn., DeZiel will be one of Nebraska's top threats in the gym this season. The 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, DeZiel earned three All-America honors in her first season at Nebraska, including two first-team awards (FX, AA) and one second-team accolade (V). She was the Big Ten Floor Champion in 2012 and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after capturing the Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week award nine times during the regular season.
Wong returns to Nebraska for her junior season after capturing the Big Ten All-Around title in 2012. The four-time All-American has earned two career first-team honors (2012: BB, 2011: UB) and two second-team awards (2012: FX, AA). Wong was an All-Big Ten Championship team selection on four events in 2012 (V, BB, FX, AA) and a first-team All-Big Ten selection. A standout in the classroom and the gym, Wong was also an Academic-All Big Ten honoree in 2012 and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.
Kendig Builds 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 440-170-4 record overall and a 291-68-2 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 Set to Lead Huskers in 2013
Joining Kendig in his leadership of the Huskers this season will be second-year assistant coaches Heather Brink and Dan Miller. Brink will continue her role in the gym as the team's beam coach while assisting with floor choreography. 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 will continue to lead NU's efforts on vault and floor in 2013. 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 assistanch coach Owen Field, now in his third season in that position, will aid NU's full-time staff in 2013. Field will assist head coach Dan Kendig on the uneven bars while also assisting with the Huskers' strength and conditioning program.
Husker Seniors Ready to Shine in Final Season
With a young but deep roster this season, the Huskers will count on the leadership and experience of three seniors to anchor their efforts. Janelle Giblin, Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner will look to lead NU in the gym, the classroom and the community in their final seasons at Nebraska.
A two-time first-team All-American, Giblin collected 15 individual event titles during her junior campaign in 2012, including nine titles on bars and five on vault. The San Ramon, Calif., native will be counted on to power NU's efforts on those events while also contributing as an all-around competitor.
Nathe will aim to end her career at Nebraska on a high note this season. A second-team All-American on bars in 2010, Nathe will re-enter NU's lineup as a two-event specialist on bars and beam. Hailing from Sartell, Minn., Nathe has also served as a role model for Nebraska in the classroom throughout her career.
NU's final returning senior in 2013, Skinner has been a powerful performer and all-around competitor for the Huskers and will be a driving force behind Nebraska's success this season. A two-time All-American from Los Altos, Calif., Skinner set career bests on vault (9.925), beam (9.875), floor (9.875) and in the all-around (39.35) last season.
Pair of Juniors Primed for Big Year
Jamie Schleppenbach and Emily Wong have provided consistency and talent on all four events over the past two years and will be counted on to continue in that role in 2013. A native of Lincoln, junior and All-American Schleppenbach will bring big skills to NU's vaulting lineup this season. Schleppenbach proved her mettle as an all-around competitor last season, scoring a career-high and meet-best 39.575 and powering NU to a road win over Utah late in the season.
The defending Big Ten all-around champion, Wong will return her consistency and skilled beam routine to the lineup for the Huskers this season. Wong hails from Grand Forks, N.D., and earned her second career first-team All-America honor last season, placing 10th nationally on beam. Wong captured five beam titles last season while posting a career-high 9.925 two times.
Sophomores Look to Step Up for Nebraska
Nebraska's sophomore class returns a mixture of experience and fresh talent looking to break into the Husker lineup. The sophomores are led by Jessie DeZiel, one of the biggest difference-makers on the 2012 squad. DeZiel captured first-team All-America honors on floor and in all-around competition in her first year as a Husker. The Rogers, Minn., native was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and won a team-best 16 individual titles in 2012 in addition to seven all-around titles.
Sioux City, Iowa native Jennifer Lauer competed in three events last season for the Huskers, providing depth on vault, beam and floor. An NACGC/W Scholastic All-American in 2012, Lauer competed at NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Semifinals for the Huskers. Lauer will aim to break into the NU lineup on bars this season as well.
Hailing from Omaha, Neb., Desiré Stephens primarily contributed depth on vault in her freshman campaign, including a 9.825 in her Husker debut against Minnesota. Stephens was also a leader in the community for the Huskers, earning a Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award in 2012.
Nebraska will also return Amanda Lauer and redshirt freshman Kailyn Hawkins. The pair, who both earned NACGC/W Scholastic All-America honors last season, will look to break into NU's lineup in 2013.
Huskers Welcome Four Newcomers to Gym in 2013
The Huskers will welcome four skilled newcomers from across the Midwest to the gym this season. Jordyn Beck, Hollie Blanske, Ariel Martin and Madison McConkey will help the Huskers fill several important voids in their lineups in 2013.
Beck arrives at Nebraska from Overland Park, Kan., where she trained at McCracken's Gymnastics. An international elite level gymnast, Beck won a total of 15 event and all-around titles in the state of Kansas during her prep career. Beck is a versatile athlete with the capability to contribute on several events this season for the Huskers.
A native of Oak Grove, Minn., Blanske joins the Huskers from the same club that produced current NU All-Americans DeZiel and Nathe. A Junior Olympic National all-around champion and two-time Junior Olympic National team member, Blanske is an exciting addition to the Husker roster and will be looked to for big contributions in her first year with the Huskers.
Martin comes to NU from Chicago, Ill., and the Illinois Gymnastics Institute. A Junior Olympic National Qualifier and four-time Region V champion, Martin will bring a much-needed powerful vault and solid floor routine to the gym this season.
Nebraska's final newcomer this season is McConkey, a Lincoln native who trained at the Nebraska School of Gymnastics alongside Husker teammate Schleppenbach. McConkey, a Region IV runner-up in all-around competition and a three-time Junior Olympic National qualifier, will look to use 2013 to adjust to the competition level of collegiate gymnastics while increasing her skill set.