Nebraska produced strong performances across its 24 varsity athletic teams in 2012-13, as 11 programs finished the year among the top 25 teams in their respective sports.
Coach Bo Pelini’s Nebraska football program notched its fifth consecutive nine-win season, by earning a Big Ten Legends Division title before making its first appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Huskers concluded the year with a 10-4 overall record and a New Year’s Day berth in the Capital One Bowl, before finishing No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 and No. 23 in the final Associated Press Poll.
Coach Mark Manning’s Husker wrestling program continued its history of national success with a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Big Ten Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year Gary Pepin led the Huskers to a tie for 15th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after guiding Nebraska to a Big Ten men’s outdoor title. It was the 105th conference crown in the history of the Husker track and field program. Coach Chuck Chmelka added a final No. 11 national ranking for the men’s gymnastics program.
In addition to solid showings from several Husker men’s programs, Nebraska women’s teams registered one of the strongest seasons in school history, capturing 17th in the final Capital One Cup standings.
The performance by Nebraska’s women’s teams started with a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight and a No. 7 final ranking for Coach John Cook’s perennial national power Husker volleyball program, and was capped by a trip to the NCAA Women’s College World Series by Coach Rhonda Revelle’s softball team. In between, Coach Connie Yori’s women’s basketball team made its second NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in the past four years, while Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis team made its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in program history after claiming a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
Coach Bill Straub’s women’s bowling program claimed its sixth national title since becoming a varsity sport at Nebraska in 1997-98, and its fourth title in the first 10 years of NCAA Championship competition. The women’s rifle team also showed improvement in Coach Stacy Underwood’s first season at the helm of the program, capturing a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Nebraska also welcomed the addition of its 24th varsity sport by adding sand volleyball during the 2012-13 campaign. The Huskers finished seventh nationally in the final AVCA rankings.
Big Ten Coach of the Year Dan Kendig guided the Nebraska women’s gymnastics team to the Big Ten title, before finishing third at the NCAA Morgantown Regionals. The Huskers added a No. 14 final national ranking.
Nebraska continued to demonstrate its individual talent level across all sports, with 37 Nebraska student-athletes capturing 53 All-America awards in their respective sports, including 25 first-team All-America honors. Overall, the Huskers captured 13 more All-America honors than the 2011-12 season.
Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year Mary Weatherholt headlined the individual success of the Huskers in competition. Weatherholt became the first Husker women’s tennis singles competitor to earn first-team All-America honors. The NCAA runner-up added All-America honors on the doubles court by teaming with fellow All-American Patricia Veresova to advance to the quarterfinals in the NCAA Doubles Championship. Weatherholt was also named the Big Ten Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year for the second time.
Chad Wright, the 2012 NCAA discus champion, added first-team All-America honors with a runner-up finish in the discus at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2013. The junior from Kingston, Jamaica, added an All-America performance in the shot put. Wright was one of 15 members of the 2013 track and field program to claim first- or second-team All-America honors during the indoor or outdoor campaigns, including four-time All-American Mara Griva from the women’s team. Griva, a senior from Ventspils, Latvia, closed her career as a nine-time All-American.
Wright is one of Nebraska’s 27 2012-13 All-Americans expected to return for the Huskers in 2013-14. A testament to NU’s international recruiting power as well, Wright and Griva were among seven international student-athletes to earn All-America honors in 2012-13, while NU’s All-Americans also came to Nebraska from 16 U.S. states. The Cornhusker state produced nine All-Americans.
Big Ten women’s gymnastics all-around champion Emily Wong was the most decorated Husker individual in 2012-13. Wong captured a trio of first-team All-America awards (all-around, vault, floor) at the NCAA Championships, while adding a second-team All-America award on balance beam. The junior from Grand Forks, N.D., will enter her senior season as an eight-time All-American. She also captured CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2013.
Jessie DeZiel added a pair of All-America awards for the women’s gymnastics program at the NCAA Championships, while Wyatt Aycock (all-around), Grant Perdue (vault) and Sam Chamberlain (parallel bars) gave the men’s gymnastics program three All-Americans.
The Husker volleyball program claimed four All-America honors in 2012, led by first-team AVCA All-America setter Lauren Cook. Senior Lindsey Moore and Jordan Hooper became the first women’s basketball teammates to earn Associated Press All-America honors in the same season, before Moore was selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft. Tatum Edwards, a junior pitcher from Murrieta, Calif., added second-team All-America honors for the softball program.
Robert Kokesh produced an impressive third-place finish at 174 pounds at the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The sophomore from Wagner, S.D., was joined by fellow sophomore James Green as an All-American. The 157-pounder from Willingboro, N.J., captured his second All-America award. Junior offensive lineman Spencer Long added second-team All-America honors for the Nebraska football team, while Rex Burkhead and Daimion Stafford were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Sophomore Liz Kuhlkin claimed MVP honors at the NCAA Championships while powering the Husker bowlers to the NCAA title. The first-team All-American from Schenectady, N.Y., was joined on the National Tenpin Coaches Association All-America Team by fellow sophomore Elise Bolton, while senior Kristina Mickelson captured an individual national title at the X-Bowling Singles Championship in Lincoln. Janine Dutton, a senior from Eagle River, Alaska, added All-America honors for the rifle program. Overall, the Huskers produced at least one All-American in 13 of their 24 varsity sports.