The Huskers are set for the 24th Annual Masters Classic on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Gear Up for 24th Annual Masters Classic

By NU Athletic Communications


No. 8 Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1 Overall, 3-1 Big Ten)
Kentucky Wildcats (4-7 Overall, 1-3 SEC)
Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils (5-6 Overall, 2-2 WIAC)
Bridgeport Purple Knights (9-2 Overall, 2-0 ECC) 
Date: Sunday, Feb. 23
Time: 2 p.m. 
Location: Lincoln, Neb. 
Arena: Devaney Center
Live Stats (Free):
Video (Free): 
Twitter: @HuskersWGym 

The No. 8 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team will return to the Bob Devaney Sports Center this weekend to host the 24th annual Masters Classic on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. CST. Joining NU at the meet will be Kentucky, Wisconsin-Stout and Bridgeport. The matchup between the Huskers (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten), Wildcats (4-7, 1-3 SEC), Blue Devils (5-6, 2-2 WIAC) and the Purple Knights (9-2, 2-0 ECC) 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 live stream 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 bounce back from a loss to No. 7 Michigan last weekend. The Huskers are 2-1 in the Devaney Center in 2014, averaging a score of 196.575 in their home meets.

Power of Pink Meet
The Huskers will host their “Power of Pink” event on Sunday to spread support for breast cancer awareness. Pink-themed prizes will be distributed throughout the afternoon while supplies last. The first 1000 fans will also receive pink pom-poms. Fans are also encouraged to wear pink alongside the Huskers for this meet.

Scouting Kentucky
• The Huskers already faced Kentucky at the Ozone Collegiate Classic in January where Nebraska took home a 196.250-194.650 victory over the Wildcats and Alabama.
• Nebraska owns a 9-0 all-time record against Kentucky with the last meeting between the two on Jan. 18 of this year for the Ozone Collegiate Classic.
• Head coach Tim Garrison is in his second year with the Wildcats, previously coaching the Huskers under Dan Kendig as an assistant coach from 2006-2011.
• Last weekend the Wildcats competed at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas against No. 1 Oklahoma, No.  3 LSU, and 17th ranked Arizona. Kentucky scored a 194.850, to finish behind Oklahoma’s 198.175, LSU’s 197.875 and Arizona’s 195.625 to take fourth at the event.   

Scouting Wisconsin-Stout
• The Huskers have never faced Wisconsin-Stout in competition before.
• The Blue Devils compete in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic conference and hold a 2-2 conference record this season.
• Nebraska junior Jessie DeZiel’s sister, Brittany DeZiel is a senior on the Blue Devils squad.  
• UW-Stout, swept all four events on their way to defeating Gustavus Adolpus 181.375-170.500 last weekend at home in Menomonie, Wis.
• Head coach Becky Beaulieu is in her eighth year with the Blue Devils.
• UW-Stout is 5-6 overall on the season earning their highest team score of 183.550 on Feb. 7 at the John Zuerlein Invitational against Hamline University and Eau Claire.

Scouting Bridgeport
• The Huskers and Purple Knights have never met in competition.
• Bridgeport competes in the East Coast Conference where they hold a 2-0 ECC record and a 9-2 overall record.
• Last season Bridgeport took home the ECC conference title with a score of 195.875.
• The Purple Knights are coming off a victory at the Yale University Invitational last Saturday. They took first place with a team score of 192.275, Brown took second (191.075) while Southern Connecticut State was third (187.125). 

Masters Classic Rotation Order   

Rotation      Nebraska             Kentucky              UW-Stout                Bridgeport

1.                  Vault                       Floor                       Beam                         Bars

2.                  Bars                        Vault                        Floor                         Beam

3.                  Beam                      Bars                         Vault                         Floor

4.                  Floor                       Beam                        Bars                        Vault


Last Time Out: Huskers Make Strides in Loss to No. 7 Michigan   
The No. 8 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team battled uncharacteristic struggles in their loss against Big Ten rival Michigan last Friday 196.650-196.125. The Huskers (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) earned event titles on two events and in the all-around, but could not hold off the No. 7 Wolverines (9-0, 4-0 Big Ten) who remained undefeated on the season.

Senior Emily Wong captured her sixth floor title of the season en-route to another all-around crown notching a 39.475. Wong also added a first-place finish on bars posting a mark of 9.90. The Grand Forks, ND., native is still undefeated on floor and in the all-around this season.

“We are better than how we competed tonight,” head coach Dan Kendig said. “Beam was tough on our team, but I felt like we still had good routines. It affected us a little bit. It felt like we got the wind knocked out of us a little. But, there is no reason to focus on this. We just need to use this experience to fuel the fire and get back in there and make some changes and we will be better next time because of it.”

The Huskers started their evening on vault earning a steady 49.250. Nebraska was paced by DeZiel who tallied a 9.90, while Ariel Martin picked-up her new season-high score of 9.875. Wong (9.85) and Blanske (9.825) rounded out the lineup hitting two key marks.

Michigan began their night on bars, registering a 49.025. They were led by Shelby Gies’s mark of 9.85. With one rotation in the books, Nebraska jumped out to an early lead over the Wolverines 49.250-49.025.

Nebraska took to bars for their second rotation earning a team mark of 49.225. Wong fueled the Huskers sticking a strong 9.90 to claim the event title. In her first appearance as a Husker, Jennie Laeng soared to a 9.875 on bars to take second-place. DeZiel also chipped in a 9.875, while Blanske added a 9.825.

The Wolverines earned a 49.275 on vault, led by senior Joanna Sampson’s 9.925 score to earn the event title. After the second rotation the Huskers narrowly led 98.475-98.300.

NU had uncharacteristic struggles on beam in its third rotation of the evening, finishing with a 48.650 on the evening. Wong and Blanske both displayed strength recording identical 9.80 marks, while Schleppenbach pitched in a 9.775.

Michigan took to floor for their third rotation notching a team score of 49.375 with Joanna Sampson putting up a vital 9.90. After the third rotation Michigan took the lead 147.675-147.125.

Nebraska finished the evening on floor posting a 49.000. Wong led the way for the Big Red, earning an exciting 9.925 in front of the home crowd. Blanske (9.85) and Schleppenbach added two solid scores to round out the lineup.

MU finished the night with a 48.975 on beam. Nicole Artz, and Joanna Sampson picked-up identical scores of 9.825 to lead the Wolverines and tie for the event title. The effort was enough to top the Huskers and the Wolverines took the 196.650-196.125 victory on the night.

Nebraska in the Rankings
The Huskers came in at eighth nationally in the latest GymInfo national team rankings, holding a season average of 196.608 and an RQS (Regional Qualifying Score) of 196.485. NU pulled down four top-ten rankings on every event including rankings of No. 6 nationally on beam (49.063), No. 7 on vault (49.279), ninth on floor (49.183) and 10th on bars (49.083).

Oklahoma moved into the No. 1 spot after posting the highest team score of the 2014 season of 198.675 last weekend. Florida comes in second averaging a score of 197.392, while LSU (197.379), Utah (197.135) and Alabama (197.025) round out the top-five teams respectively. Nebraska and Michigan are the only two Big Ten teams ranked in the top-ten, while Illinois (14th), Minnesota (15th), Penn State (20th) and Ohio State (23) all make an appearance in the top 25.

Individually, Emily Wong paces the Huskers checking in at No. 4 in the all-around averaging a score of 39.517. Wong also adds rankings of eighth on bars 9.896, and seventh on floor 9.925. Junior Jessie DeZiel’s average of 39.205 in the all-around places her at 24th, she also claims a 19th ranking on vault. After making her debut on bars, freshman Jennie Laeng is ranked 16th with a score of 9.875.

Up Next for the Huskers
Nebraska will hit the road next weekend for Corvallis, Oregon to face No.11 Oregon State and No. 22 Arizona State in a tri-meet on Saturday, March 1 at 8 p.m. CT. (6 p.m. PT). These three teams will square off at Gill Coliseum on the campus of Oregon State for a top-25 battle.

Oregon State holds a No. 11 ranking nationally and a record of 7-1 overall. The Huskers hold a 13-12 series edge over the Beavers with the last meeting between the two teams coming in 2011 when NU took a 196.85-196.10 victory.

 Arizona State is ranked No. 22 holding a 6-3 overall record. The Sun Devils own a 30-19 all-time lead over the Huskers with the last meeting in 2011 where Nebraska took home a 197.30-192.75 victory over the Sun Devils.

Noting the Masters Classic
The Huskers will host the 24th annual Masters Classic this weekend in Lincoln, dating back to the inaugural meet in 1989. NU has captured 20 Masters Classic team titles in that time period and holds all of the top-five team scores recorded at the competition. Nebraska earned the 2013 Masters Classic crown with the fourth-highest team score in school history of 197.050, defeating No. 16 Boise State and Iowa State at the Devaney Center.

Emily Wong took home the all-around crown posting a score of 39.60. The Huskers also recorded top-five team scores on bars (49.325), beam (49.175) and floor (49.375).

Huskers Showcased on Big Ten Network
The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team will be featured one more time this season at the Big Ten quad meet in East Lansing, Michigan. The Huskers will face Michigan State, Illinois and Ohio State on Saturday, March 15 with coverage on the Big Ten Network two hours after the meet ends, approximately 2:30 p.m. CT.

On Saturday, March 22 BTN will televise the first session of the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Championship meet live at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the second session live at 4 p.m. CT. The championships are being held in University Park, Pa.

Injury Update: Jennifer Lauer
Junior Jennifer Lauer suffered a left foot injury at practice last Thursday Feb. 13 and will be out of competition for the next four to six weeks depending on recovery. Lauer has been one of the top-ranked beam workers in the country from the start of the season, holding a top-five position for the past three weeks averaging a score of 9.888. She picked-up her first Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week award after posting a season-best tying score of 9.925 on beam against Penn State on Feb. 8th. Lauer has earned five event titles on beam and scored no lower than a 9.85 in any performance. Head coach Dan Kendig is hopeful in her recovery and looks forward to seeing her back in the rotations when she is ready.  


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 welcomes 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. Head coach Dan Kendig, in his 21st season at Nebraska, 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 has been led by three returning All-Americans in 2014, 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 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 looks 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 is in her first season with NU’s full-time staff in 2014. Weinstein will assist Brink on balance beam, as well as the Huskers strength and conditioning programs.


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