The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team wrapped up its 2013 campaign with a Big Ten conference title, six All-America awards at the 2013 NCAA Championships and a 19-5 overall record. The Huskers qualified for NCAA postseason competition for the 29th time in program history, finishing third at the NCAA Morgantown Regional in Head Coach Dan Kendig’s 20th season with the Huskers. The talent-laden squad posted three of the highest team scores in school history throughout the year while spending consistent time ranked as one of the nation’s top-10 squads.
NU notched a 12-2 record during the regular season in Big Ten competition before delivering the finest conference championship performance in school history. The squad exploded for a 197.800 at the Big Ten Championship in East Lansing, Mich., that included a program-record 49.725 on vault. Seven Huskers netted a total of 12 All-Big Ten championship team honors, while six of those gymnasts earned or shared top honors on four events and the all-around.
Emily Wong asserted her position as one of the nation’s finest all-around competitors in 2013, finishing in a tie for third nationally at the 2013 NCAA Championships with a score of 39.525. Her outstanding performance included four All-America honors, including first-team accolades on vault, floor and in the all-around and second-team laurels on beam. She also logged top-10 NCAA finishes on floor (third, 9.9125) and vault (10th, 9.8833). With eight NCAA All-America honors to her name, Wong’s career total ranks fourth all-time as she enters her final season at NU in 2013-14. She also captured four NACGC/W All-America awards in the first year of the honor’s existence.
Wong snagged a total of 24 event titles in 2013, including seven in the all-around. She saved her finest performance of the season for the Big Ten Championships, winning her second consecutive conference all-around title with a career-high 39.725. Her victory made her the first Big Ten gymnast to win back-to-back conference all-around titles since Penn State’s Brandi Personett (2007-08). She was also the conference champion or co-champion on floor, beam and bars and earned four All-Big Ten Championship Team awards. An academic All-Big Ten selection for the second consecutive season, Wong was Nebraska’s Big Ten Sportsmanship award winner at the conference championships.
Joining Wong as one of the country’s top all-arounders was sophomore Jessie DeZiel, who put up another outstanding season after a breakout freshman year in 2012. DeZiel finished 12th nationally in the all-around at the 2013 NCAA Championships to earn second-team All-America honors. She also posted a 9.875 on beam to earn second-team All-America accolades on the event as an individual.
DeZiel won or shared Big Ten Gymnast-of-the-Week honors twice in 2013, giving her 14 career weekly honors overall. She was the Big Ten runner-up in the all-around at the championship meet with a 39.625 and tied for second place on floor (9.95) and first on vault (9.95). She earned three All-Big Ten Championship Team selections (V, FX, AA) and was a first-team All-Big Ten pick, an NACGC/W first-team All-American (V, AA) and an academic All-Big Ten selection.
Senior Janelle Giblin served as an important anchor for the Huskers in her final season, taking the floor as a three-event specialist and NU’s top performer on bars. She posted a 9.85 or higher on the event seven times in 2013 while earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, NACGC/W second-team All-America accolades and three Big Ten Event Specialist-of-the-Week awards.
Giblin captured six event titles throughout the season, including four on bars. The highlight of her season came on Senior Night against Iowa, when the San Ramon, Calif., native earned only the second 10.0 on bars in school history. Her perfect score was the nation’s second in 2013 and was Nebraska’s first 10.0 on any event since 2011. She added a share of the Big Ten vault title in late March, posting a 9.95 leadoff routine to tie her career high. She earned Big Ten Championship Team honors for her efforts.
Kassandra Nathe rejoined Nebraska for her senior season after battling back from season-ending injuries in 2011 and 2012. A steady competitor on two events for the Big Red, Nathe did not miss a meet all season on beam. She earned the beam title against Arizona on Feb. 16, posting a meet-best 9.85 on the day. She was also one of Nebraska’s most consistent contributors on bars and came to anchor NU’s lineup late in the season.
Nathe earned a career-high 9.90 on bars at the Big Ten Championships, earning her a tie for second on the event and All-Big Ten Championship Team honors. She also snagged academic All-Big Ten accolades for her work in the classroom.
Brittany Skinner closed her career at Nebraska with another outstanding season, appearing as an all-around competitor and a key component of the Huskers’ vaulting lineup. Skinner captured four individual titles on vault throughout the season, including a share of the Big Ten and NCAA Morgantown Regional titles with career-high marks of 9.95. Her work on the event earned her a spot on the All-Big Ten second team as well as an all-conference championship team selection.
Because Skinner finished in a tie for first on an event at Nebraska’s regional meet, she earned an individual berth at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Los Angeles, Calif. She completed her career in preliminary competition at the national championship meet, posting a 9.825 on vault in the first semifinal.
One of Nebraska’s finest vaulters, junior Jamie Schleppenbach logged five total appearances on the season before falling to a season-ending injury in late February. She captured two vault titles in just four showings on the event, taking home top honors at Michigan in January and against Illinois in early February. Schleppenbach earned academic All-Big Ten honors for her performance in the classroom.
Fellow sophomore Jennifer Lauer secured her spot as one of Nebraska’s top beam workers in 2013. Lauer opened the 2013 season with a splash on the road at Michigan, posting the nation’s top beam score with a 9.95 on Jan. 12. She went on to earn nine scores of 9.85 or higher during the season while capturing a team-best five titles on the event. Lauer put up a top-notch performance at the Big Ten Championships, earning a share of the conference beam title with a 9.90 performance. A first-team All-Big Ten selection, she also took home All-Big Ten Championship Team honors and academic All-Big Ten accolades for the season.
Hollie Blanske became the third Twin City Twisters product to join the Huskers in 2013. The freshman provided a major spark to the Nebraska lineup as a three-event competitor. Appearing on vault, bars and floor, Blanske logged season-high scores of 9.85 or better on each apparatus while becoming one of the squad’s top vaulters by the end of the season. She finished the season with a trio of individual titles, including a share of the Big Ten vault title with a 9.95 at the championship meet.
Sophomore Desiré Stephens made her full debut in the Husker lineup in 2013 after being limited by injuries in her freshman campaign. Stephens appeared as a two-event specialist, seeing action on vault and floor throughout the season. She tied her career-high of 9.85 three times in Nebraska’s last four meets, including back-to-back efforts at the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Morgantown Regional. Stephens was an academic All-Big Ten selection for the Huskers in her sophomore season.
Amanda Lauer provided necessary depth to the Husker roster in her sophomore season but did not see action as a declared team competitor. She saw action as an exhibition competitor on beam several times, posting a high score of 9.825 against Illinois in February. Lauer also earned her first career academic All-Big Ten award in the spring.
Redshirt freshman Kailyn Hawkins and freshmen Jordyn Beck, Ariel Martin and Madison McConkey did not see competition in their first years at Nebraska. Hawkins took the floor as an exhibition competitor on bars at the Masters Classic, earning a 9.75. Beck and Martin were slowed by injuries in 2013, but are expected to rejoin the Husker lineup as major contributors next season. McConkey made strides in the gym as she used her freshman year to adjust to the competition level of collegiate gymnastics.
Head Coach Dan Kendig wrapped up his 20th season at Nebraska with a record of 472-176-4 and a career mark of 553-282-5. Kendig’s 472 wins are a program record and place him fourth all-time across all sports in Nebraska athletic history. He has guided Nebraska to three consecutive conference titles, giving him 13 career conference championships at Nebraska. Kendig has also coached 35 Husker gymnasts to 123 All-America awards since 1995.
2013 Season Highlights
1. Nebraska earned its third consecutive conference title at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, posting a 197.800 to take top honors at the meet.
2. The Huskers qualified for the program’s 29th consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, finishing third at the NCAA Morgantown Regional with a score of 195.875
3. Nebraska earned a 19-5 record overall in 2013 that included a 12-2 mark in Big Ten action and a 3-2 record in NCAA postseason competition.
4. Two Huskers earned a total of six All-America honors at the 2013 NCAA Championships. Emily Wong earned three first-team selections (V, FX, AA) and one second-team honor (BB), while Jessie DeZiel pulled down two second-team selections (BB, AA).
5. Emily Wong notched a total of three top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, finishing third nationally in the all-around (39.525) and on floor exercise (9.9125) and 10th on vault (9.8833).
6. Three Nebraska team members were selected as NACGC/W All-Americans in regular season competition. First-team honorees were Emily Wong (AA, UB, BB, FX) and Jessie DeZiel (AA, V). Janelle Giblin (UB) also took home second-team accolades.
7. Emily Wong captured her second consecutive Big Ten all-around title with a 39.725, becoming the first conference gymnast to claim top honors in back-to-back seasons since Penn State’s Brandi Personett (2007-08). Wong also earned or tied for conference titles on floor, bars and beam.
8. The Huskers took home a total of nine individual event titles on all four events and in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships. Wong led the way with her four individual titles. Jennifer Lauer earned a share of the beam title, while Hollie Blanske, Jessie DeZiel, Janelle Giblin and Brittany Skinner all tied for top honors on vault. Nebraska’s nine titles set a new Big Ten record for most individual championships earned by a team in a single season, breaking the previous mark of eight set by Michigan in 1997.
9. Five Huskers captured All-Big Ten honors for their performances in the regular season. Jessie DeZiel, Janelle Giblin, Emily Wong and Jennifer Lauer were all first-team selections, while Brittany Skinner was a second-team honoree.
10. Seven Huskers pulled down a total of 12 All-Big Ten Championship team honors at the conference meet: Emily Wong (UB, BB, FX, AA), Jessie DeZiel (V, FX, AA), Hollie Blanske (V), Janelle Giblin (V), Brittany Skinner (V), Jennifer Lauer (BB) and Kassandra Nathe (UB).
11. Jessie DeZiel (Feb. 11, March 11) and Emily Wong (Jan. 21, Feb. 25) were each selected as the Big Ten Gymnast or Co-Gymnast-of-the-Week twice in 2013. Janelle Giblin (Feb. 4, Feb. 11, March 11) was also chosen as the Big Ten Event Specialist-of-the-Week three times.
12. A Big Ten-best nine Huskers snagged Academic All-Big Ten honors, giving the women’s gymnastics program 150 total academic all-conference selections. Jessie DeZiel, Janelle Giblin, Kailyn Hawkins, Amanda Lauer, Jennifer Lauer, Kassandra Nathe, Jamie Schleppenbach, Desiré Stephens and Emily Wong were all honored by the conference.