Brittany Skinner and the Huskers look to capture their 20th Masters Classic title on Friday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Host 23rd Masters Classic

By NU Athletic Communications

Masters Classic
No. 9 Nebraska, No. 16 Boise State, Iowa State
Friday, Feb. 22  |  6 p.m. CST
Lincoln, Neb. (Bob Devaney Sports Center)

The No. 9 Nebraska women's gymnastics team will return to the Bob Devaney Sports Center this weekend to host the 23rd annual Masters Classic on Friday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. CST. Joining NU at the meet will be the No. 16 Boise State Broncos and the Iowa State Cyclones. The matchup between the Huskers (5-1, 4-1 Big Ten), Broncos (6-1, 0-0 WAC) and Cyclones (3-5, 0-2 Big 12) will also serve as the team's Power of Pink event for breast cancer awareness. Fans unable to attend the meet can follow along with free live stats or free video on Live updates will also be posted on Twitter on the official NU women's gymnastics account (@HuskersWGym).

Nebraska returns to its home gym this weekend looking to stay perfect in Lincoln this season. The Huskers are 3-0 in the Devaney Center in 2013, averaging a team score of 196.541 in their home meets. NU earned a 195.625-195.400 win over No. 14 Arizona last weekend in Tucson, Ariz.

Master's Classic Doubles as "Power of Pink" Meet
The Huskers will host their "Power of Pink" night on Friday to spread support for breast cancer awareness. Pink-themed prizes will be distributed throughout the evening while supplies last. Fans are encouraged to wear pink alongside the Huskers for this meet.

Scouting the No. 16 Boise State Broncos
A Glance at the Broncos
Co-Head Coaches: Tina Bird, Neil Resnick (Sixth Year)
2013 Record: 6-1 (0-0 Big Ten)
2013 High Score: 196.325 (vs. BYU, 2/1/13)
2012 Record: 10-4
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A

The Boise State Broncos are ranked 16th nationally this week after earning a second-place finish at the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City, Okla., last weekend. BSU posted a 195.575 to earn the runner-up title behind No. 2 Oklahoma and ahead of BYU and Texas Women's University. The Broncos are 6-1 this season, with wins over BYU, Utah State and Southeast Missouri on their résumé.

Boise State is led by Co-Head Coaches Tina Bird and Neil Resnick; it is the duo's sixth season at the helm of the Bronco program. They are joined in the gym by assistant coach Patty Resnick. The Huskers boast a 7-0 all-time regular-season series lead over BSU, with the last meeting between the two teams coming in 2003.

Scouting the Iowa State Cyclones
A Glance at the Cyclones
Head Coach: Jay Ronayne (Seventh Year)
2013 Record: 3-5 (0-2 Big 12)
2013 High Score: 195.175 (vs. N. Illinois, 2/15/13)
2012 Record: 5-7
2012 NCAA Finish: N/A

The Iowa State Cyclones will arrive in Nebraska this weekend following a season-high effort of 195.175 in a win over Northern Illinois last weekend. The victory snapped a five-meet losing skid and marked the Cyclones' first win since season-opening victories against Wisconsin-La Crosse and Kent State. Despite those five losses, ISU has increased its season-high score in each of its eight meets this season. Four of Iowa State's five losses have also come to teams ranked in the nation's top 20.

Head Coach Jay Ronayne is in his seventh year at the head of the Cyclone program. His coaching staff is rounded out by Assistant Coaches Kristen Maloney and Katie Minasola. Nebraska holds a 93-14-1 all-time regular-season series lead over Iowa State.

Masters Classic Rotation Order
Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise
Boise State
Floor Exercise, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam
Iowa State
Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Floor Exercise, Vault

Huskers Hold off Late Surge to Down Wildcats
The Huskers held off a late surge from the Arizona Wildcats to capture the 195.625-195.400 win on Saturday, Feb. 16. Nebraska earned event titles on three events and the all-around to topple the Wildcats at the McKale Memorial Center.

Three Huskers earned four total titles in Nebraska's win over the Wildcats. Brittany Skinner was one of just two athletes in the meet to score over a 9.90 on the evening, picking up a meet-best 9.90 on vault. Emily Wong took home the uneven bars title (9.825) and the all-around title (39.225), and Kassandra Nathe earned top honors on beam (9.85).

The Huskers started the evening on bars, posting a team score of 48.925. Wong led the way for the Big Red, sticking a 9.825 on the evening to take home the event title. Janelle Giblin, Jessie DeZiel and Hollie Blanske were each solid in their own right, with the trio picking up identical marks of 9.80 to finish in a three-way tie for second. Skinner chipped in a mark of 9.70.

NU moved to vault for its second rotation, earning a team mark of 48.950. Skinner led the way for the Huskers with her meet-best 9.90, her third score in four performances above a 9.90. Giblin, Stephens and Wong all tacked on identical scores of 9.775 for the Big Red, while Jamie Schleppenbach and DeZiel added a 9.725 apiece.

Nebraska picked up a team score of 48.975 on floor in the third rotation of the evening. Hollie Blanske and Wong paced the Huskers with identical scores of 9.825 to tie for fourth on the event. Desire' Stephens added a career-high 9.80 to aid NU, and Jamie Schleppenbach earned a 9.775 for the Big Red.

The Huskers took to beam knowing they would need a solid performance to seal their victory. NU delievered, earning a team score of 48.775 on beam in their final event. The Big Red was led by Nathe's meet-and-season-best mark of 9.85. DeZiel added a 9.825 to finish second overall, while Wong added a 9.80 to tie for third. 

NU Ranked No. 9 in Latest Standings
The Huskers came in at ninth nationally in the latest GymInfo national team rankings, holding a season average of 196.283 and an RQS (Regional Qualifying Score) of 196.105. NU pulled down rankings of No. 7 nationally on bars (49.063) and beam (49.042), as well as a No. 10 spot on floor (49.025) and 11th on vault (49.154).

Florida continued its reign at the top of the rankings with an average of 197.296, closely followed by No. 2 Oklahoma at 197.171. No. 3 Michigan (196.939), No. 4 Alabama (196.842) and No. 5 UCLA (196.650) rounded out the nation's top five. Six Big Ten teams appeared in the top 25; in addition to Michigan and Nebraska, Minnesota (No. 12), Illinois (No. 18), Ohio State (No. 20) and Penn State (No. 24) all captured spots.

Three Huskers collected six total top-20 appearances in the individual rankings. Emily Wong picked up three top-15 appearances alone, coming in at fifth in the all-around (39.440) and tying for 10th on bars (9.867) and 11th on floor (9.885). Brittany Skinner captured the No. 8 spot on vault (9.906) after earning her third event title of the season last week at Arizona. Jessie DeZiel earned the No. 13 ranking on bars (9.862) and the No. 19 spot in the all-around (39.288).

Up Next for Nebraska
The Huskers will host their final home meet of the season on Monday, March 4 when they welcome conference foe Iowa to the Bob Devaney Sports Center for Senior Night. The meet, which is slated for a 6 p.m. CST start, will honor seniors Janelle Giblin, Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner as they compete in their final competition at home for Nebraska. The evening will also be Student Appreciation Night, with the first 100 students receiving a free slice of Valentino's pizza.

The Iowa Hawkeyes hold a 5-4 ranking in 2013, including a 1-4 mark in Big Ten action. UI boasts wins over Ball State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago. The Hawkeyes are led by Head Coach Larissa Libby, who is in her ninth year at the helm of the Iowa program. She is joined by assistants Jacob Lee and Caleb Phillips.

Noting the Masters Classic
The Huskers will host the 23rd annual Masters Classic this weekend in Lincoln, dating back to the inaugural meet in 1989. NU has captured 19 Masters Classic team titles in that time period and holds all of the top five team scores recorded at the competition. Nebraska earned the 2012 Masters Classic title with a team score of 196.55, defeating No. 20 Washington, No. 22 Michigan and Southern Utah at the Devaney Center.

Skinner Soars on Vault
After being sidelined for Nebraska's first two meets, senior Brittany Skinner has made her presence known in Nebraska's vault lineup. A native of Los Altos, Calif., Skinner has scored no lower than a 9.875 on the event in her last four meets, including career-best scores of 9.925 against Ohio State (1/25) and Penn State (2/10). She has earned three vault titles in that time and is also ranked No. 8 nationally on the event. A 2010 first-team All-American on vault, Skinner is expected to continue making an impact on the Husker lineup throughout the season.

Steady Nathe Earns Beam Title
Senior Kassandra Nathe has been a reliable component of NU's beam lineup this season, consistently delivering solid scores to aid the Huskers. Her efforts paid off last Saturday against Arizona, when the Sartell, Minn., native hit a 9.85 to capture the beam title on the day. The award marked Nathe's third career event title, her second on beam and her first this season.

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 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 assistant 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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