Freshman Hollie Blanske and the Huskers will face No. 14 Arizona this weekend.
Photo by BreAnna Haessler/NU Media Relations

NU Aims for Win in First Non-Conference Meet

By NU Athletic Communications

No. 8 Nebraska at No. 14 Arizona
Saturday, Feb. 16  |  5 p.m. CST
Tucson, Ariz. (McKale Memorial Center)

Following a season-best score of 197.175 last weekend in a win over Penn State, the No. 8 Nebraska women's gymnastics team will hit the road for the third time this season to face No. 14 Arizona. The Huskers (4-1, 4-1 Big Ten) and the Wildcats (9-5, 0-4 Pac-12) will square off in the McKale Memorial Center on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. CST (4 p.m. MST). Fans unable to attend the meet can follow free live stats on Arizona's website at Fans can also view live updates on Twitter by following @HuskersWGym.

The Huskers are on the hunt for their fifth win of the season and their first non-conference victory this weekend. After opening the season with a narrow loss to No. 3 Michigan on the road, NU has since gone 4-0 against conference opponents. The Wildcats are NU's first non-conference opponent of 2013.

Scouting the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats
A Glance at the Wildcats
Head Coach: Bill Ryden (15th Year)
2013 Record: 9-5 (0-4 Pac-12)
2013 High Score: 196.075 (vs. Utah, 1/25/13)
2012 Record: 14-5
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A

The 14th-ranked Arizona Wildcats face Nebraska after taking first at the Chicago Style Meet last weekend in Chicago, Ill. The Wildcats posted a team score of 195.950 en route to a win over Pittsburgh, Texas Women's and Illinois State. The victory boosted UA's record to 9-5 this season, including additional wins over Auburn, Illinois, San Jose State and BYU. The Huskers hold a 19-15 regular-season series advantage over the Wildcats. The meeting between NU and UA is the first since 2010, when the NU took a 196.425-194.750 win over Arizona.

The Wildcats are led by senior all-arounder Aubree Cristello, who is ranked 20th nationally in the all-around (39.288) and tied for 19th on beam (9.846). A steady competitor in all four events for Arizona, Cristello has won four all-around titles in six meets for the Wildcats this season. She is a three-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection in the all-around and competed as an individual at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

UA is in its 15th season under the leadership of Head Coach Bill Ryden, who holds a 190-180-3 all-time record at Arizona. Ryden is assisted in the gym by John Court and Randi Acosta.

Nebraska's Rotation Order vs. Arizona
Uneven Bars, Vault, Floor Exercise, Balance Beam
Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise

Huskers Post Season-High Score to Rout PSU
The Huskers used a pair of top-notch all-around performances and stellar efforts from several veterans to down Penn State on Feb. 10 by a score of 197.175-195.150. NU and PSU performed in front of 2,189 fans at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. NU posted their best team effort of the season in the win over the Nittany Lions, including season-best marks on vault (49.375) and floor (49.275).

Jessie DeZiel led the way for the Huskers, tying for the event titles on vault (9.925) and floor exercise (9.925) en route to her best all-around score of the season (39.525). Wong followed closely with a 39.500 in the all-around, including a tie for the floor title (9.925) and a third-place finish on vault (9.925). Janelle Giblin tied her career-best on bars for the second week in a row (9.95) to take the event title, while Jennifer Lauer took home the beam title (9.875). Brittany Skinner wrapped up the event title sweep for the Huskers by tying for top honors on vault (9.925).

The Huskers kicked off the afternoon on vault, scoring a season-best 49.375 to begin the meet. NU's efforts were fueled by three consecutive scores of 9.90 or better from Wong, Skinner and DeZiel. Wong began the scoring rush, tying her season-best on vault with a 9.90. Skinner followed up by tying her career-best with a 9.925, and DeZiel posted a new season-high with an identical 9.925.

NU took to bars for their second rotation, posting a team mark of 49.350. DeZiel and Giblin paved the way for NU's best team score on bars since January, beginning with DeZiel's 9.90. Giblin followed by by hitting her second 9.95 of the season in as many meets, tying her career-high for the second time this season. Skinner tied her career-best 9.875, and Wong added a 9.85.

Several gritty performances anchored Nebraska's efforts on beam, allowing the Huskers to finish with a 49.175 on the afternoon. Lauer led the way with a 9.875, her highest score since Jan. 19 against Michigan State. Giblin's powerful effort continued, as the senior picked up a career-best-tying mark of 9.85. Skinner added a season-best 9.85 to aid in NU's efforts.

The Huskers broke through on floor in their final rotation, cruising to a season-high 49.275. Wong and DeZiel came through again for the Big Red, earning consecutive marks of 9.925 to lead the way for NU. Wong's score tied her career-high, while DeZiel's was a season-best for 2013. Schleppenbach added a 9.85 for the Huskers.

DeZiel and Wong battled to final rotation for the all-around title, but DeZiel emerged victorious with a season-high 39.525 to earn the award. Wong followed with a 39.500, while PSU's Musser finished with a 38.825.

NU Up One Spot to No. 8 in National Rankings
The Huskers jumped one spot to No. 8 nationally after posting a season-best score of 197.175 last weekend against Penn State. The nation's top five this week remained unchanged, with Florida taking the No. 1 spot (197.296) and No. 2 Oklahoma (197.125) and No. 3 Michigan (196.867) rounding out the top three. The top three were followed by No. 4 UCLA (196.765) and No. 5 Alabama (196.680) to complete the top 5. Nebraska and Michigan are the lone Big Ten teams in the top ten, though No. 11 Minnesota (195.795) is knocking at the door after rising two spots from No. 13 last week.

The Big Red remains ranked in the top ten nationally on every event, led by a No. 4 ranking on beam (49.095). NU also comes in at seventh on bars (49.090) and ninth on vault (49.95) and floor (49.035).

In addition to Nebraska's team efforts, four Huskers garnered a total of six top-ten national rankings as individuals. Wong paced the Big Red with an appearance at No. 4 in all-around competition (39.494) and ties for fourth on bars (9.875) and fifth on floor (9.90). DeZiel earned a tie for fourth on bars (9.880) and is also 13th in the all-around (39.925). Jennifer Lauer tied for sixth on beam (9.880), while Skinner captured a No. 6 ranking on vault (9.908).

Up Next for Nebraska
The Huskers return home next weekend to host the 23rd-annual Masters Classic at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The meet is set for Friday, Feb. 22 with a 6 p.m. CST start. NU will look to capture their 19th Masters Classic title as they face No. 16 Boise State and Iowa State in the gym. The meet will also serve as NU's annual "Power of Pink" event to raise awareness for breast cancer. Fans are encouraged to wear pink alongside the Huskers for this event.

16th-ranked Boise State holds a 4-0 record in 2013, including wins over Utah State, BYU and Southeast Missouri. The Broncos boast a season average of 195.550 and are ranked eighth nationally on bars (48.963). Former Big 12 foe Iowa State is 2-5 this season, with four of its losses coming to top-20 opponents. The Cyclones posted a season-high 194.825 last weekend in a loss to Big 12 opponent West Virginia.

DeZiel, Giblin Take Home Big Ten Honors
Following a season-best team performance last Sunday against Penn State, a pair of Huskers earned conference weekly honors for their individual efforts. Jessie DeZiel earned Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week accolades, while Janelle Giblin took home her second consecutive Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week award. The honor marks DeZiel's third career Gymnast of the Week accolade and her 13th weekly award overall; Giblin's honor is the second of her career.

DeZiel captured Co-Gymnast of the Week honors after posting season-high marks on vault (9.925) and floor (9.925) and tying her career-best on bars (9.90) en route to a season-best score of 39.525 in the all-around. DeZiel tied for first on vault and floor against Penn State, enabling her to capture her second all-around title in two weeks. DeZiel also logged a second-place finish on bars and a finish of fifth on beam. Her efforts were instrumental in helping Nebraska to their highest scores of the season on vault (49.375) and floor (49.275). DeZiel earned the conference honor alongside Illinois' Alina Weinstein.

Giblin picked up her second consecutive Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week award after tying her career-best on bars (9.95) for the second week in a row. Giblin earned her third event title on bars in three weeks on Sunday; during that time span, she has scored no lower than a 9.90 in any performance on the event. Giblin also tied her career-best on beam (9.85) to finish in a tie for second against the Nittany Lions.

All-American Skinner's Return Aids NU on Vault
After being sidelined for Nebraska's first two meets, senior Brittany Skinner has made her presence known in Nebraska's vault lineup. A native of Los Altos, Calif., Skinner has scored no lower than a 9.875 on the event in her last three meets, including career-best scores of 9.925 against Ohio State (1/25) and Penn State (2/10). She has earned a pair of vault titles in that time and is also ranked No. 6 nationally on the event. A 2010 first-team All-American on vault, Skinner is expected to continue making an impact on the Husker lineup throughout the season.

High-Flying Giblin Shows Strength
After a shaky start to 2013, senior Janelle Giblin is on a roll on uneven bars for the Big Red. The San Ramon, Calif., native has posted three consecutive scores of 9.90or higher in Nebraska's last three meets, including 9.95s against Illinois (2/1) and Penn State (2/10). Giblin's efforts have been rewarded with three straight individual titles on bars and back-to-back Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week honors.

Lauer Locked in on Beam
Sophomore Jennifer Lauer has become one of Nebraska's most important assets on beam this season. Hailing from Sioux City, Iowa, Lauer has scored no lower than a 9.85 on beam this season and hit a career-best 9.95 against Michigan in NU's season opener. Lauer has captured three beam titles this season, including a pair against Illinois (2/1) and Penn State (2/10). Lauer is tied for sixth nationally on the event and serves as one of NU's anchors on beam alongside junior Emily Wong.

DeZiel Takes First All-Around Title of 2013
Sophomore and defending Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jessie DeZiel earned her first all-around title of 2013 against Illinois, posting a season-high score of 39.425 on the evening. DeZiel placed in the top five of every event and scored no lower than a 9.825 on any apparatus. The Rogers, Minn., native tied for the floor title with teammate Jamie Schleppenbach, posting a 9.85 against the Illini. She also earned finishes of second on bars (9.90) and beam (9.825) and fourth on vault (9.85).

DeZiel has competed in the all-around in every meet of 2013 for the Huskers, placing no lower than third in any competition. She is tied for 16th nationally in all-around competition, holding a season average of 39.275.

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.

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 assistant 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.


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