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By Randy York
Friday night is the final curtain call for one of the best female gymnasts in Nebraska’s storied history. Lora Evenstad, a 5-foot-3 senior from Grand Forks, N.D., will compete in her last collegiate competition in Lincoln in a 7 p.m. dual against Iowa State at the Devaney Sports Center. Katelyn Busacker, a 5-foot-5 senior from Papillion, Neb., also will perform in her final home meet and then join Evenstad on the floor immediately afterwards for Senior Night Salutes.
“My career at Nebraska seems like the blink of an eye,” Evenstad said this week, adding that she’s working on “not crying” after the meet but will have to “wait and see” if she can pull that off. Vicky and Dean Evenstad, Lora’s mom and dad, will be in the stands when the curtain comes down. Inhis 19th season as Nebraska’s head coach, Dan Kendig thinks the Evenstads deserve a perfect 10 as an attendance reward. “They’ve never missed one of Lora’s collegiate meets, at home or on the road,” Kendig pointed out. “They’re proof that we don’t just recruit student-athletes here. We recruit the whole family, and they epitomize that. They’ve been fun and supportive of their daughter and everyone else on this team.”
“What kind of parents would never miss a meet from one coast to the other?” I asked. “Crazy ones,” Evenstad answered. “My mom and dad have been so supportive of me and my team, and that’s how they’ve always been. I’m just very blessed in my life to have parents like them.”
Kendig feels equally blessed to have recruited and coached Evenstad. “Lora is one of the, if not THE most talented young lady we’ve ever had here in terms of her skill level and ability,” he said. “The one thing that sets her apart is her consistency. In her full career here, I can count on one hand the number of times she’s made mistakes in competition, and I would probably have extra fingers left over. She’s somebody you can always depend on and always trust, and it’s not just hitting her routines. It’s the quality she delivers. She’s been a steady force for us since the first day she got here. I can remember when she committed and how excited I was. I knew she was one of the best recruits in the country, and I’m just shocked that Lora’s a senior and about done here. How did that happen? As the clock keeps ticking, and the hour glass winds down, I will remember Lora as a very good student, a great athlete, a great gymnast and a young lady with incredible faith and remarkable leadership by example.”
Evenstad had a chance meeting with fellow senior Busacker while trying to find the same 300-level class last August, and that meeting resulted in Busacker, a two-time Ball State gymnastics captain, choosing to finish her career as a Husker. That inspiring story will be told in another N-Sider, so stay tuned.
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