No. 6 Nebraska (1-0) vs. No. 3 Alabama (1-0) and No. 17 Kentucky (3-0)
Knoxville Convention Center (15,000) • Knoxville, Tenn. • Saturday, Jan. 18 • 7:00 p.m. CT
Twitter Feed: @HuskersWGym
Fresh off their first victory of the 2014 season, the No. 6 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for their first road event of the year. The Huskers (1-0) are set to face No. 3 Alabama and No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. CST for the annual Ozone Collegiate Classic at the Knoxville Convention Center. Live updates will be available to fans on Huskers.com as well as via the official Nebraska women’s gymnastics account on Twitter (@HuskersWGym).
All three teams are heading into this weekend with a perfect record after their opening weekend and hoping to clench their first road win of the season. Alabama (1-0) defeated Missouri 197.150-193.425 last weekend as Kentucky (3-0) pushed past Penn State, West Virginia and Ball State with a team score of 195.000. The last time the Huskers and Crimson Tide met was in 2011 where Alabama defeated Nebraska 197.65-196.725. The Huskers holds a regular-season series advantage of 8-0 and a postseason advantage of 2-0 against Kentucky all-time.
Scouting No. 3 Alabama
• Alabama has won six NCAA Championships
• The Crimson Tide is the defending NCAA Regional Champions
• There are 17 gymnasts on this year’s roster - 5 seniors, 4 juniors, 2 sophomores, and 6 freshmen
• Seven Alabama gymnasts earned All-America honors last season and six are back this season: Seniors Kim Jacob, Sarah DeMeo and Diandra Milliner, juniors Kaitylyn Clark and Kayla Williams and sophomore Lauren Beers.
• The Crimson Tide is coming off its 31st consecutive NCAA championship, taking home the crown in 2012, 2011, 2002, 1996, 1991, and 1988
• Alabama beat the Missouri Tigers 197.150-193.425 last Friday Jan. 10 at the Coleman Coliseum, which was the highest opening score in their Crimson Tide history.
Scouting No. 17 Kentucky
• The Wildcats finished 21st in the national rankings last season and return 14 gymnasts from the 2013 squad that made their ninth consecutive NCAA berth.
• UK returns 14 letterwinners from 2013 team, among returners are seniors Holly Cunningham, Audrey Harrison and Kayla Sienkowski along with redshirt junior Kayla Hartley.
• Last weekend Kentucky faced three teams in the annual Excite Night, Friday Jan. 11 at Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats defeated Penn State, West Virginia and Ball State to win the meet with a score of 195.000.
• UK senior Audrey Harrison won the all-around title with a 39.075 along with a win on beam with a 9.850.
Nebraska’s Rotation Order At Collegiate Classic
Rotation Nebraska Alabama Kentucky
1. Beam Bars Vault
2. Floor Exercise Beam Bars
3. Vault Floor Exercise Beam
4. Bars Vault Floor Exercise
Nebraska Sweeps Event Titles, Tops Northern Illinois
Nebraska swept all four events and the all-around competition en-route to a 196.625-192.525 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday Jan. 11. The Huskers performed in front of a packed house of 2,746 fans for the first Tumble’ N’ Rumble event.
Senior Emily Wong had a strong night for the Huskers earning two individual titles including the all-around title (39.425). Wong ended the evening with a stellar performance on floor and posting a 9.95 on the event to claim top honors.
Junior Jessie DeZiel started the evening off on fire posting two top scores that tie her career-best on vault (9.95) and on bars (9.925). Lauer also had an impressive performance on beam, posting a 9.85 to earn the beam title for the Big Red.
Nebraska started the night on vault, hitting a stellar score of 49.225 on the evening. The Huskers were led by DeZiel who hit a score of 9.95 for the event title. Adding to the Huskers’ efforts were junior Desire’ Stephens and redshirt freshman Ariel Martin, who picked up identical marks of 9.85.
The Northern Illinois Huskies had early struggles in their first rotation, but pulled together on their last routines to post a score of 48.475 on bars. Following the first rotation, Nebraska led Northern Illinois by a score of 49.250-48.475.
NU moved to bars on the second rotation, where the Huskers posted a score of 49.225. Jessie DeZiel once again led the Huskers on bars where she posted another career-tying-best score of 9.925 to take top honors. Desire’ Stephens came out with a career-best performance on bars exploding to a 9.875.
Northern Illinois picked up a mark of 48.600 on vault in their second event of the evening. After two rotations, Nebraska extended their lead to 98.475-97.075.
In the third rotation, the Huskers took to the balance beam. The team posted a 49.02, led by Jennifer Lauer’s impressive routine (9.85) earning the beam title. Wong showed her strength on beam as well earning a 9.825, while Schleppenbach and Blanske added identical scores of 9.80.
The Huskies finished with a 48.400 on floor to put their team total after three rotations at 145.475. With only one rotation remaining, Nebraska led the Huskies 147.500-145.475.
The Huskers finished their evening on floor, posting a team score of 49.125, paced by Wong’s meet-winning mark of 9.95. Sophomore Hollie Blanske added a 9.85, while Jennifer Lauer chipped in a 9.825 to seal the victory for Nebraska.
After Northern Illinois picked up a 47.050 on beam to finish the night, Nebraska’s officially earned the 196.625-192.525 win over the Huskies. Wong’s 39.425 was the top score in the all-around competition with DeZiel in second at 39.325, and Blanske adding a 39.225. Northern Illinois efforts were led by Kim Gotlund, who earned a 38.575
Huskers Up Four Spots to No. 6 After Season Opener
NU moved up four spots to tie for sixth with UCLA nationally in the latest GymInfo rankings, released Monday. After opening weekend the Huskers posted a solid team score of 196.625 which pushed them to this new ranking. The Huskers are now ahead of Big Ten rival Michigan (196.525) to be ranked first in the Big Ten this week. The Huskers come in just outside the top five nationally this week, with Oklahoma (197.700), LSU (197.200), Alabama (197.150), Florida and Utah(196.650) rounding out the top of the rankings.
Nebraska also has two Huskers with a total of three routines inside the top 10 nationally. Jessie DeZiel is now tied for third nationally on vault (9.95) and tied for third on bars (9.925). Senior Emily Wong is also tied for second on floor with a score of 9.95. Both of these Huskers are now ranked nationally in the all-around; Wong seventh (39.425) and DeZiel tenth (39.325).
Up Next for Nebraska
The Huskers will go on the road for the second time in three meets next weekend, facing the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday Jan. 24. The Big Red will take on the Hawkeyes at 7 p.m. CST in the Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the Iowa University campus. The Hawkeyes are currently 0-1 in 2014, dropping their opening meet to the Utah State Aggies. Iowa will head to Ball State University this weekend on Friday Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. before meeting with the Huskers the following weekend.
Wong Captures Big Ten Weekly Award
The now sixth-ranked Nebraska women’s gymnastics team picked up its first conference honor of 2014 on Monday, as senior Emily Wong capped her stellar weekend by earning Big Ten Gymnast of the week honors. The award marks the third of Wong’s career and comes following an impressive opening weekend performance.
Wong led the Huskers in their 196.625-192.525 victory over Northern Illinois late Saturday night, winning the floor title en route to capturing top honors in the all-around on the evening. She also finished third on bars (9.85), and fifth on vault (9.80). Wong’s victory also included a solid beam routine earning a score of 9.825, and placing second. Thanks in part to her work this weekend Wong is now ranked No. 7 nationally in the all-around and tied for No. 2 on floor.
Particularly notable was Wong’s remarkable 9.95 performance on floor that brought fans to their feet to end the meet vs. Northern Illinois. That score is tied for the second-highest individual floor score in the nation.
Defending Conference Champions Look For Continued Success
After winning its second consecutive Big Ten conference title, Nebraska returns to the gym with even higher expectations for the 2014 season. NU will welcome back seven letter winners from last season, including three All-Americans, as well as two Huskers returning from injuries last season, while adding two newcomers to the roster. The Huskers will have a stockpile of talent to once again rank among the nation’s elite collegiate programs. Led by head coach Dan Kendig in his 21st season at Nebraska, who sees the potential for continued success with the 2014 squad.
“I do think at the end of the day we will have a better team than we had last year,” Kendig said. “We definitely have the potential to have that happen. The girls are training incredibly hard and their focus is tremendous. This could be an exciting season for us.”
Three All-Americans Prepared to Lead Huskers In 2014
Nebraska will be led by three returning All-Americans, including two honorees that captured six awards last season. Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong headline the group that has won 14 awards since 2011 and also includes senior Jamie Schleppenbach.
In the all-around competition the Huskers will welcome back two first-team selections in DeZiel and Wong, who both competed in the 2013 NCAA Championships where they picked up All-American accolades. Tying for third overall in the all-around Wong claimed a first-team selection as teammate DeZiel placed 12 overall taking home second-team honors.
Nebraska will look for more success from its vaulting lineup as it holds one of the top three team scores in the country (49.725). This vaulting corps fields all three previous All-Americans in Wong, who picked up first-team honors last season, Schleppenbach a first team selection in 2011 and DeZiel, a second-team selection in 2012.
Kendig Builds One of Nation’s Top Programs
Now in his 21st year at the helm of the Nebraska gymnastics program, Head Coach Dan Kendig is the all-time winningest coach in Nebraska history. Since Kendig arrived at NU, his teams have compiled an outstanding 459-175-4 (.719) record, including a 303-62-2 regular season record. His most recent honor was in 2012 when he earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Huskers to the program’s 22nd conference title.
Kendig has also led the Huskers to 15 NCAA Championship appearances in the past 18 seasons, including 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 2013 squad to another Big Ten conference title increasing Nebraska’s mark to 23 conference championships. The Huskers earned six All-America awards at the 2013 NCAA Championships and compiled a 19-5 overall record. Nebraska qualified for NCAA postseason competition for the 29th time in program history, finishing third at the NCAA Morgantown Regional. The 2013 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 teams.
NU Assistants Set to Lead Huskers in 2014
Joining Kendig in his leadership of the Huskers this season will be third-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. Brink contributed to Nebraska’s continued success in 2013, as the Huskers claimed 13 beam titles including the Big Ten Championship title shared by Emily Wong and Jennifer Lauer with an identical score of 9.90. Wong went on to claim second-team All-American accolades on the event.
Miller will continue to lead NU’s efforts on vault and floor in 2014. He helped Nebraska’s vault and floor lineups continue to dominate in 2013. At the Big Ten Championships the Huskers posted four individual vault scores of 9.95 and a team-high score of 49.725, which helped secure the Huskers the Big Ten Conference title. Miller guided Britanny Skinner to her individual vault appearance at the NCAA Championships and Emily Wong and Jessie DeZiel to earn All-America honors.
Volunteer assistant coach Alina Weinstein in her first season will aid NU’s full-time staff in 2014. Weinstein will assist Brink on balance beam, as well as the Huskers strength and conditioning programs.