Brittany Skinner returned to competition last weekend for NU, scoring a 9.925 on vault.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Return Home to Face Illini

By NU Athletic Communications

No. 7 Nebraska vs. No. 19 Illinois
Friday, Feb. 1  |  6 p.m. CST
Lincoln, Neb. (Bob Devaney Sports Center)

The seventh-ranked Nebraska women's gymnastics team will return to Lincoln this weekend to kick off a two-week home stand at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers (2-1, 2-1 Big Ten) will face No. 19 Illinois (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten) on Friday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. CST on their home floor. Fans unable to attend the meet can follow free live stats or pay-to-view live video on Twitter updates will also be available throughout the meet by following @HuskersWGym.

The Huskers enter this weekend on the hunt for their third win of the season and their second victory at home. Nebraska holds a regular-season series advantage of 16-2 and a postseason advantage of 5-0 against Illinois all-time. The two teams last met at the 2012 Big Ten Championships, where the Huskers came away with a 197.100-195.850 victory over the Illini.

Scouting No. 19 Illinois
A Glance at the Fighting Illini
Head Coach: Kim Landrus (Second Year)
2013 Record: 2-3 (1-1 Big Ten)
2013 High Score: 196.125 (vs. Michigan State, 1/26/13)
2012 Record: 12-9-2
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A

The 19th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini arrive in Lincoln fresh off their best performance of 2013, a 196.125 effort against Michigan State on the road last weekend. UI has shown marked improvement in early 2013, increasing its team score by at least one full point in each of its three meets. Illinois has shown particular strength on beam, holding a ranking of No. 11 nationally on the event with an average of 48.858.

The Illini are led by senior and lone returning All-American Alina Weinstein, who is currently tied for 15th nationally in the all-around (39.30). Weinstein earned her first all-around title of the season last weekend against Michigan State, posting a 39.375. Weinstein is joined in all-around competition by freshman Giana O'Connor, who is tied for 23rd nationally on beam (9.842).

Illinois was picked to finish sixth in the preseason Big Ten Coaches' Poll this year and was No. 18 nationally in the preseason. The Illini wrapped up 2012 with a 12-9-2 record in their first season of competition under head coach Kim Landrus.

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

Beam Efforts Power Huskers to Victory
Nebraska held off a late surge by the Ohio State Buckeyes to earn a 196.150-195.975 win on last Friday night in Columbus. The Huskers used several key performances early and a clutch performance on beam to stave off the Buckeyes and capture their second win of the season.

The Huskers were led by big performances from upperclassmen Janelle Giblin, Brittany Skinner and Emily Wong. Giblin paved the way for Nebraska, hitting an early 9.90 on bars to secure the event title for the returning All-American. The senior added a key 9.825 late on beam to finish fifth and help the Huskers to victory. Giblin also tied for third on vault with teammate Jessie DeZiel at 9.875. Skinner tied for the vault title, posting a 9.925 to help the Huskers to their highest vault score this season. Wong added a solid performance for the Huskers, taking second on beam (9.90) and bars (9.875).

Nebraska began the evening on bars, scoring a 49.025. The Huskers got progressively stronger with each competitor on the event, beginning with DeZiel's 9.80 on the evening. Wong continued the uptick in scoring, adding a 9.875 on another solid performance. NU's lineup culminated in a stellar performance from returning All-American Giblin, who hit her most complete bars routine this season to earn a 9.90.

The Big Red moved to vault in their second rotation, earning their highest score on the event this season at 49.300. Nebraska was led by senior Brittany Skinner, who announced her return to the lineup with a big 9.925. DeZiel and Giblin added identical marks of 9.875, and Jennifer Lauer earned a 9.825.

The Huskers took to floor in their second-to-last rotation, battling their way to a 48.800. Wong paced the Huskers with a 9.875, while freshman Hollie Blanske earned a 9.775. Jamie Schleppenbach returned to the NU lineup after resting last week, picking up a 9.725. Jennifer Lauer also captured a 9.725 for the Huskers.

Nebraska moved to beam needing a solid performance to secure their victory. NU's nationally-ranked beam squad delievered a clutch effort, earning a team mark of 49.025. Steady performances by Wong (9.90), Lauer (9.85) and Giblin (9.825) proved key in the Huskers' efforts to defeat the Buckeyes.

Nebraska Comes in at No. 7 in Latest National Rankings
The Huskers appeared in the No. 7 slot in the latest GymInfo National Rankings, released Monday. Nebraska slid one spot from No. 6 last week after posting a 196.150 effort against Ohio State last weekend. Florida took the No. 1 spot nationally this week (197.025), while No. 2 Oklahoma (196.938) and No. 3 Michigan (196.900) rounded out the top three nationally. UCLA claimed the No. 4 spot (196.650) and Alabama appeared at No. 5 (196.394).

As a team, the Huskers appeared in the top ten nationally on both beam (No. 3) and bars (No. 7). NU's beam efforts are led by junior Emily Wong and sophomore Jennifer Lauer. Wong took the No. 1 spot nationally on the event, while Lauer appeared at No. 4 in the latest rankings. Wong and sophomore Jessie DeZiel are pacing the Huskers' bar squad, with Wong tying for No. 7 nationally and DeZiel coming in at No. 20.

Brittany Skinner joins Wong and Lauer as Huskers ranked in the top ten nationally, appearing in a tie for fifth nationally on vault. Wong also appears in the top ten in the all-around, coming in at No. 3, and on floor, where she is tied for 10th.

Up Next for Nebraska
The Huskers will continue their two-week home stand next weekend, welcoming Penn State to the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Sunday, Feb. 10 for a 2 p.m. CST meet. The meet will also serve as Nebraska's annual Pepsi Pack the House event, featuring $1 admission, popcorn and 24-oz. Pepsi drinks available to fans. Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting or by calling the Nebraska Ticket Office at 1800-8BIG-RED.

Huskers' Meet with PSU to be Broadcast on BTN
Nebraska's home meet against Penn State will go national next weekend as BTN provides coverage of the showdown between two of the conferences top teams. The meet between the Huskers and the Nittany Lions will be shown on BTN on tape delay, airing on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. CST.

"Beam was the Hero Again"
The Big Red's efforts on beam continue to be some of the best in the nation, with NU coming in as the No. 3 beam squad in the country this week. Led by efforts from top-ranked performer Emily Wong and No. 4 competitor Jennifer Lauer, Nebraska's work on the event under Assistant Coach Heather Brink is evident each week. This past weekend, however, NU faced their biggest challenge yet on beam against Ohio State.

With only one rotation to go last Saturday night against OSU, the Huskers held a narrow 147.125-146.800 lead over the Buckeyes. Nebraska's beam squad took the floor knowing there was only a slim margin for error on their final event of the evening. The Huskers delivered, with five of the six competitors hitting solid routines to pace Nebraska to a 49.025 and victory.

Following a leadoff routine by Hollie Blanske with a few wobbles, Kassandra Nathe and Jessie DeZiel got the Huskers back on track with respective scores of 9.750 and 9.700. Janelle Giblin began to close the deal for NU, posting a 9.825, and Jennifer Lauer added another clutch effort with a 9.85. Emily Wong anchored Nebraska's efforts, finishing with a 9.90 that sealed the team victory for the Huskers on the evening.

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.


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