Huskers Hope for Contributions from Newcomers
Head Coach Dan Kendig and the Nebraska women's gymnastics team will welcome four talented freshmen to the squad for the 2013 season. Jordyn Beck, Hollie Blanske, Ariel Martin and Madison McConkey will join NU this spring and help to fill the void left by departed seniors Lora Evenstad and Katelyn Busacker.
Evenstad and Busacker's leadership and reliability made the duo key parts of Nebraska's 2012 Big Ten Championship and NCAA-qualifying team. Evenstad, a two-time All-American (FX, V) competed primarily on vault, bars and floor for NU in 2012 while bringing home nine individual titles during the season. Busacker, meanwhile, provided crucial depth to Nebraska's beam lineup throughout the season.
While both Evenstad and Busacker will be missed during the upcoming season, Kendig and the Huskers are excited about what Beck, Blanske, Martin and McConkey have the potential to contribute in 2013.
Beck, a native of Overland Park, Kan., joins the Huskers after training with McCrackens Gymnastics. Beck is a two-time Junior Olympic National qualifier, finishing in a tie for sixth on bars in 2011. Beck qualified for JO Nationals in 2011 after finishing second on beam at the Region III meet and adding a fourth-place finish on bars.
"Jordyn is really going to help us out," Kendig said. "She's come back in good shape and worked hard these last five weeks of school that she's been here. She's going to provide a number of routines to help the Huskers this year."
Blanske joins the Huskers after training at Twin City Twisters alongside fellow Husker Jessie DeZiel. The native of Anoka, Minn., is a three-time Junior Olympic National qualifier and was the 2011 Junior Olympic national champion in the all-around, posting a score of 38.450. Blanske, who competed in the Senior B division, added first-place finishes on bars (9.625) and floor (9.775). Blanske qualified after finishing first in Region IV competition in the all-around with a 38.550, while taking top honors on both bars and beam.
"Hollie is incredibly talented and hard-working," Kendig said. "She is coming off an ACL injury but is ahead of schedule, and we are excited to get her back in the gym in full capacity. She will provide great gymnastics for the Huskers when she is healthy."
Martin comes to Nebraska from Chicago and the Illinois Gymnastics Institute. Martin competed at the 2010 Junior Olympic Championships, finishing third in the Junior D division all-around with a 38.300. Her third-place finish included second on vault and fourth on floor.
Martin also competed in the 2011 Region V Championships, finishing first in the Senior B all-around with a score of 38.050. Martin picked up first-place finishes on vault, beam and floor en route to her victory.
"Ariel is going to give us a good, big vault and a quality floor routine," Kendig said. "The floor is an area where we have some needs, so she will help fill that void for us. She is going to help us a lot on those two events, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if she winds up on the other two as well."
McConkey hails from Lincoln and trained at the Nebraska School of Gymnastics. A three-time Junior Olympic National qualifier, McConkey has finished second (2009), fifth (2010) and third (2011) in the Region IV all-around competition. McConkey's third-place all-around finish in 2011 included third on beam and fifth on floor.
"Maddie is a multiple JO National qualifier and is getting stronger and working harder every day," Kendig said. "She is just getting back into gymnastics and is falling back in love with the sport, which is great to see. Having another girl on our team from Lincoln is a big plus."