No. 10 Nebraska vs. No. 24 Iowa
Monday, March 4 | 6 p.m. CST
Lincoln, Neb. (Bob Devaney Sports Center)
The 10th-ranked Nebraska women's gymnastics team will close its home season at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Monday, March 4, facing the No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes on Senior Night. The meet is slated for a 6 p.m. CST start and will honor seniors Janelle Giblin, Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner as they compete in their final home competition at Nebraska. Fans unable to attend the meet can follow free live stats and free live video on Huskers.com. Live updates will also be posted on Twitter on the official NU women's gymnastics account (@HuskersWGym).
With a win over the Hawkeyes (6-4, 2-4 Big Ten), the Huskers (6-1, 4-1 Big Ten) would finish their 2013 home slate of meets with a perfect 4-0 record. After dropping their first meet of the season to now-No. 3 Michigan, the Huskers have posted six consecutive wins to hold a 6-1 record overall. NU holds four wins over top-25 teams and has not fallen out of the top-10 in the national rankings this season. Iowa will be the fifth top-25 squad the Huskers have faced in 2013.
Scouting the No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes
A Glance at the Hawkeyes
Head Coach: Larissa Libby (Ninth Year)
2013 Record: 6-4 (2-4 Big Ten)
2013 High Score: 195.875 (2 times, last at Illinois, 2/16/13)
2012 Record: 7-9-1
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A
The 24th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes arrive in Lincoln fresh off a 195.725-195.550 upset of No. 12 Minnesota in Iowa City last weekend. Iowa used a closing effort of 49.225 on floor to hand Minnesota their first loss of the season. The win boosted the Hawkeyes to 6-4 this season and gave them their second victory in Big Ten action. UI has posted a season-best performance of 195.875 twice in 2013, with the most recent effort coming in a narrow loss to Illinois on Feb. 16.
The young Hawkeye squad has benefitted from the stability of senior Emma Stevenson, a three-event specialist and 2012 All-Big Ten Championship Team selection. Stevenson earned event titles on bars and floor last weekend in Iowa's victory over Minnesota. The senior is part of a squad that features eight freshmen and only three upperclassmen (all seniors).
Iowa is led by Head Coach Larissa Libby, who is in her ninth season at the helm of the Hawkeye program. Libby is assisted in the gym by Jacob Lee and Caleb Phillips.
Nebraska's Rotation Order vs. Iowa
Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise
Uneven Bars, Vault, Floor Exercise, Balance Beam
NU Posts 197.050 to Claim Masters Classic Title
The Huskers cruised to victory in the 23rd Masters Classic on Friday, Feb. 22 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, taking a 197.050-194.850 win over Iowa State. Three Huskers swept all four event titles and the all-around to lead en route to their sixth win of the season. The dual win over the Cyclones in front of a crowd of 1,421 marked NU's 17th-straight Masters Classic title.
Emily Wong paced Nebraska's rout of the Cyclones, winning or tying for three event titles to take the all-around victory. Wong tied for the beam title (9.90) and won outright awards on bars (9.925), floor (9.925) and in the all-around (39.600). Jennifer Lauer tied with Wong for top honors on beam (9.90), and Janelle Giblin captured her first vault title of the season (9.75).
Nebraska got the evening off to a solid start on vault, posting a team score of 49.175. Giblin led the way for the Big Red, earning a meet-best 9.875 to tie her season-high. Wong added a 9.85, while Hollie Blanske and Jessie DeZiel picked up identical marks of 9.825 to boost NU.
NU carried the momentum onto bars, posting one of their highest totals of the season at 49.325. Wong paced the Huskers with a 9.925, her highest score since late January. Giblin aided NU's efforts with a solid 9.875, while DeZiel picked up a 9.85. Blanske added an identical 9.85, tying her career-high on the event.
A pair of stellar closing performances anchored Nebraska's efforts on beam in the third rotation. Jennifer Lauer bumped up the intensity with a 9.90, her highest score since earning a 9.95 against Michigan in NU's season-opener. Wong followed up with another 9.90 to push the Huskers to a 49.175 on the evening.
Nebraska took to floor in the final rotation needing a powerful performance to break the 197 mark overall. The Huskers delivered five strong performances to pick up a 49.375, led by a meet-best 9.925 from Wong. DeZiel anchored the event with a 9.90, and Stephens and Jennifer Lauer earned identical career-best marks of 9.85.
Huskers Comes in at No. 10 in RQS National Rankings
Nebraska earned a ranking of No. 10 nationally in the latest GymInfo national team rankings. This week's rankings switched from overall team average to the regional qualifying score (RQS) format. RQS is determined by first taking a team's top six total scores (with at least three away meets), dropping the highest score and then averaging the remaining five scores. Nebraska's RQS of 196.365 dropped them one spot from last week's rankings--NU narrowly trails No. 9 Oregon state by only .005 points.
The RQS-tabulated scores caused some movement at the top of the rankings this week, with Oklahoma taking the No. 1 spot at 197.410 and Florida dropping to second (197.280). Michigan remained at third (196.975), while Alabama (196.810) and LSU (196.770) rounded out the top five. NU and Michigan were joined by five Big Ten teams in the rankings: No. 14 Minnesota (195.775), No. 18 Ohio State (195.495), No. 19 Illinois (195.480), No. 22 Penn State (195.415) and No. 24 Iowa (195.265).
Two Huskers earned a total of six appearances in the individual rankings. Emily Wong led the way again this week with four total spots, including her No. 5 national ranking in the all-around (39.430). Wong also tied for 11th on beam (9.865), 13th on floor (9.885) and 15th on bars (9.865). Teammate Jessie DeZiel added rankings of 15th in the all-around (39.245) and 23rd on bars (9.855).
Up Next for Nebraska
NU will hit the road next weekend for their second-to-last regular-season meet of the year, traveling to Minneapolis, Minn., to face Minnesota, Arkansas and Centenary. The quad meet will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 and will be held in the Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus. Fans can follow live stats and video online at GopherSports.com, or receive Twitter updates by following @HuskersWGym.
No. 14 Minnesota holds a 12-2 record overal in 2012-13; the Golden Gophers started 12-0 before suffering consecutive losses to Iowa (195.725-195.550) and Iowa State (195.550-195.025) last weekend. UM will travel to Gainesville, Fla., this weekend to face No. 2 Florida at 6 p.m. CST. Minnesota has been led by freshman Lindsay Mable, who has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times this season.
The No. 25 Arkansas Razorbacks are on a roll after posting their best effort of the season in a 197.100-197.100 tie with fourth-ranked Alabama last weekend. Despite a 1-5-1 record overall, the Razorbacks hold an RQS of 195.260. All five of UA's losses have come to teams ranked in the top-15 nationally, including three losses to top-10 squads. Arkansas has counted on performances from junior Katherine Grable, a four-time All-American and all-arounder for the Razorbacks.
Centenary holds a 1-3 record in 2013 after starting their season in early February. The Ladies have posted scores of 191.150 and 191.625 in their first two meets, and wil look to continue improving with a meet on March 1 against Arkansas and Lindenwood.
Huskers Honor Seniors
Nebraska's Monday night meet against the Hawkeyes will serve as Senior Night, honoring Husker upperclassmen Janelle Giblin, Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner for their contributions to the Nebraska program throughout their careers.
Janelle Giblin: A native of San Ramon, California, Janelle Giblin is a five-time All-American, a two-time All-Conference selection and a two-time All-Conference Championship Team honoree. Giblin has captured 24 career event titles and has finished as high as fifth nationally on vault at the NCAA Championships. She will complete her time at Nebraska as one of NU's most decorated competitors, having earned All-America honors every season since arriving in 2010. A nutrition science major, she is also a two-time Academic All-Conference selection and was an NACGC/W Scholastic All-American. Giblin is the daughter of Jim and Jane Giblin and has two sisters, Jennifer and Jillian.
Kassandra Nathe: An All-American on bars in 2010, Kassandra Nathe has battled back from two consecutive season-ending injuries to rejoin the Huskers this season as a two-event specialist on bars and beam. Hailing from Sartell, Minnesota, she has also been a standout for NU in the classroom throughout her career and is a three-time Scholastic All-American, an Academic All-Conference honoree and a five-time commissioner's honor roll selection. Nathe earned her undergraduate degree last year and is currently seeking her graduate degree in family financial planning. She is the daughter of Ken and Doris Nathe and has one brother, Kent.
Brittany Skinner: Long described as the team's "x-factor" by Head Coach Dan Kendig, Brittany Skinner's versatility has allowed her to help the Huskers on all four events throughout her career. She is a two-time All-American for the Nebraska, having earned first-team honors on vault in 2010 and second-team accolades on beam in 2011. A native of Los Altos, California, Skinner has competed on three NCAA Championship-qualifying teams since arriving at Nebraska in 2010 and was an All-Conference Championship Team selection in 2011. A psychology major at Nebraska, she is the daughter of Greg and Stacia Skinner and has one brother, Grant.
Wong Earns Second Big Ten Award
Junior Emily Wong earned Co-Gymnast of the Week honors last week after winning or tying for four individual titles in Nebraska's victory over Iowa State at the Masters Classic last Friday. Wong's award comes after the junior finished in the top two of every event at the 23rd-annual Masters Classic last Friday, including first-place finishes on bars (9.925), beam (9.90), floor (9.95) and in the all-around (39.600). She also posted a second-place effort on vault (9.85) against Iowa State. Wong's floor score matched her career-high, while her all-around victory marked her fourth such title in seven meets for Nebraska.
Big Ten Championships to Air Live on BTN
The Big Ten Network (BTN) has announced that it will televise both session of the Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships live on March 23. The first session of the event will air at 12 noon CST, while the second session is set for a 5 p.m. CST start. Michigan State will host the event in East Lansing, Mich., at the Breslin 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 446-171-4 record overall and a 297-69-2 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 are second-year assistant coaches Heather Brink and Dan Miller. Brink has continued 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 has continued 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 assistant coach Owen Field, now in his third season in that position, aids 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.