Huskers Host Spartans in Home Opener
No. 7 Nebraska vs. Michigan State
Saturday, Jan. 19 | 6 p.m. CST
Lincoln, Neb. (Bob Devaney Sports Center)
Following a strong effort on the road last week at Michigan, the seventh-ranked Nebraska women's gymnastics team will return to the friendly confines of the Bob Devaney Sports Center for their home opener on Saturday, Jan. 19. The Huskers will welcome conference foe Michigan State to Lincoln as the teams square off at 6 p.m. CST. Fans unable to attend the meet will be able to view free live stats on Huskers.com or receive updates on Twitter by following @HuskersWGym.
Both the Huskers and the Spartans will enter this weekend's meet on the hunt for their first win of the season. NU fell by a narrow margin last week at the hands of No. 1 Michigan, while Michigan State was defeated by in-state opponent Western Michigan. Nebraska boasts a 7-2 all-time series lead in the regular season against MSU, and a 5-0 postseason advantage. The two teams last met at the 2012 Big Ten Championship in Iowa City, Iowa, where Nebraska topped Michigan State by a score of 197.100-194.675.
Scouting Michigan State
A Glance at the Spartans
Head Coach: Kathie Klages (23rd year)
2013 Record: 0-1 (0-0 Big Ten)
2013 High Score: 192.725 (Western Michigan, 1/12/13)
2012 Record: 8-17-1
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A
The Michigan State Spartans field a young squad this season, with eight freshmen appearing alongside nine returners on the roster. MSU is 0-1 in 2013 after falling to Western Michigan last weekend in East Lansing by a score of 193.500-192.725. The Spartans took home two event titles in the competition courtesy of sophomore Alina Cartwright (V-9.90) and freshman Lisa Burt (FX-9.775).
The 2013 Spartans have been paced by Cartwright, who started the season strong in her home opener. Cartwright is currently tied for eighth nationally on vault after opening last weekend with a 9.90. She finished second in all-around competition last weekend at 38.950 in a performance that including a vault title, fourth on bars and beam and a tie for fifth on floor.
The Spartans were picked to finish eighth in the Big Ten this season after wrapping up 2012 with an 8-17-1 record and an eighth-place finish at the 2012 conference championship. Head Coach Kathie Klages is in her 23rd year at the helm of the Michigan State program.
Nebraska's Rotation Order vs. Michigan State
Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise
Uneven Bars, Vault, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise
Nebraska Edged on the Road by Michigan
The Huskers earned several strong individual performances but were unable to overpower Michigan in their season opener, falling by a score of 196.900-196.300 on Jan. 12. Nebraska captured three event titles at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., against the Wolverines. NU saw multiple excellent early-season performances that point to a bright season for the defending conference champions.
Returning All-Americans Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong anchored Nebraska's performance, finishing with identical all-around scores of 39.375. Wong finished in ties for first on floor (9.925) and second on beam (9.90) to earn a second-place award in all-around competition. DeZiel added a 9.875 on bars, which tied her for third on the afternoon. Junior Jamie Schleppenbach earned the vault title with a solid 9.875. Sophomore Jennifer Lauer also made a huge impact in her all-around debut for the Huskers, finishing at 39.200. Her performance included a career-best 9.95 on beam that earned her the individual event title on the day.
NU started the afternoon on bars, scoring a 48.950. The Huskers were paced by a solid 9.875 from DeZiel, which tied for third overall on the day. Lauer made her bars debut for the Huskers, posting a 9.825, while Wong picked up a 9.80 for the Big Red. After battling injuries that sidelined her for two seasons, senior Kassandra Nathe returned to competition for the Huskers, earning a 9.75 on bars.
The Huskers moved to vault, traditionally one of Nebraska's strongest events. NU picked up a team score of 48.950 on the afternoon, led by Schleppenbach's meet-best 9.875. Desiré Stephens, DeZiel and Giblin all added identical marks of 9.775, and Wong chipped in a 9.75 for the Huskers.
NU took to floor for their third event on the afternoon, where the team put together a solid score of 49.075. Wong earned a strong early-season score at 9.925, while DeZiel captured a 9.875. Stephens picked up a 9.775 for the Big Red alongside identical scores of 9.75 from Lauer and Schleppenbach.
Nebraska performed on beam for their final rotation, where Lauer powered the Huskers to a stellar early-season team score of 49.325. Lauer's 9.95 was a career-best and earned her the event title on the day; Wong finished close behind at 9.90. A late add to the beam lineup, DeZiel picked up a 9.85, while Giblin posted a 9.825.
Huskers Steady at No. 7 After Season Opener
The Huskers held steady at No. 7 nationally following their season-opening meet against Michigan last Saturday. After being ranked seventh in the preseason, the Big Red remained well within the top ten of all teams and second among Big Ten squads. UCLA claimed the top spot with an average of 196.788, while Michigan took the No. 2 position (196.738) and Oklahoma and Florida tied for the No. 3 spot (196.575). LSU rounded out the top five nationally at 196.475.
Individually, the Huskers' five routines ranked within the top 10 in the nation. Jennifer Lauer led the way for the Huskers, holding a No. 1 ranking on beam after earning a career-best 9.95 at Michigan. Wong joins Lauer in the beam rankings, appearing at a tie for fifth with a 9.90. Wong also secured a spot in the national floor rankings, tying for fifth with a 9.925.
DeZiel joined Lauer and Wong as a Husker in the top 10, grabbing the No. 8 spots in the all-around (39.375) and on bars (9.875).
Up Next for Nebraska
The Huskers will go on the road for the second time in three meets next weekend, facing 21st-ranked Ohio State in Columbus on Jan. 25. The Big Red will take on the Buckeyes at 6 p.m. CST in St. John Arena on the Ohio State University campus. The Buckeyes are currently 1-1 in 2013, holding a win over Bowling Green and a loss against then-No. 9 Oregon State. Ohio State will host Iowa in Columbus on Jan. 19 before meeting with the Huskers the following weekend.
Lauer's Big Day Leads Huskers to No. 1 Beam Ranking
NU's solid performance at Michigan was anchored by the team's impressive performance on beam. With five Huskers scoring above a 9.80, and two above a 9.90, the team rolled to a 49.325 on the day--the nation's top beam score this week. The score marked Nebraska's highest output on beam since the 2012 season opener against Denver, when the Huskers scored a 49.350.
Paving the way for the Huskers' stellar beam performance was Jennifer Lauer, who nailed a rock-solid routine to earn a 9.95 and the No. 1 national ranking on beam this week. Also contributing to the Big Red's efforts was returning beam All-American Wong, who snagged a 9.90 on the afternoon. Other Huskers posting scores above a 9.80 included DeZiel (9.85), Giblin (9.825) and Nathe (9.80).
Dominant in Devaney
As the Huskers look for a victory this weekend at home against Michigan State, history is in their favor. The Huskers have been dominant within the walls of the Bob Devaney Sports Center, particularly over the last five seasons. From 2008-12, Head Coach Dan Kendig has led the Huskers to a 28-3 record at home, including a 19-3 record against ranked teams. Nebraska's strength at home also lends itself during the annual Masters Classic, where the NU is a perfect 12-0 over the last five years.
Of special note were the 2009 and 2010 seasons, when Kendig and the Huskers rolled to undefeated respective seasons of 6-0 and 8-0 at home. During that time, NU defeated four top-15 teams, including No. 3 UCLA, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 11 Missouri and No. 15 Michigan at the Devaney Center.
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 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.