Individual Success Highlighted at Year-End Banquet
After a difficult and injury-riddled season, the men's gymnastics team recapped their 2014 season with family and friends at the year-end gymnastics banquet. Select members of the team were also awarded academic, stregth and performance awards from their peers and team staff.
Senior and team co-captain Mark Ringle was awarded the Hartung Award Saturday night. The award, presented by the Nebraska Gymnastics Booster Club, is the highest award a Husker gymnast can receive and combines gymnastics ability, academic achievement and high morale character. The award was named after two-time United States Olympic gymnast and seven-time NCAA champion Jim Hartung, the most decorated gymnast in school history.
Junior Robbie Kocks was awarded the Lifter of the Year Award for the second year in a row, presented by the team's strength and fitness coach. Head Coach Chuck Chmelka, along with assistant coaches Jim Hartung and John Robinson, also presented a handful of awards.
Freshman Travis Gollott and redshirt freshman Austin Epperson received the Newcommer of the Year award after completing strong premiere collegiate seasons. Kocks was awarded the Most Improved honors. Junior Andrew House and senior C.J. Schaaf were both awarded Perserverence Awards after both overcame a series of injuries that impaired their abilities to compete. Junior and two-time All-American Grant Perdue was named Hardest Worker for the amount of time and effort spent in the gym, while seniors Eric Schyver and Wyatt Aycock shared the honors of Most Valuable to the Team Score, a new award this year.
The team started their season strong, posting some of their highest season-opening scores in the history of the program. The 2014 lineup debuted at the Rocky Mountain Open, finishing second with a team score of 423.700. The Huskers then returned home for their home opener, claiming victory over Air Force for the second meet in a row.
NU then suffered a series of injuries and illness, limiting the depth of the team. The team then traveled to Minneapolis to face Minnesota and Illinois on Feb. 1, where they finished third with a team score of 420.700. They then continued on to Ann Arbor, Mich., where they earned a team score of 416.050 against reignin national champions, Michigan.
The Huskers returned to Iowa City, Iowa, for the second year in a row to face conference rivals Iowa and Minnesota on Feb. 15. After scoring a 418.150, the team traveled to Ohio State for the Arnold Challenge, where they faced Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Arizona State and the Canadian National Team. NU finished out the March 1st event in fourth with a score of 424.750.
Nebraska rounded out their 2014 regular season with a trip to Norman, Okla., where they finished second, followed by senior night on March 15 at the Devaney Center. NU hosted Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Air Force and finished the meet in fourth with a score of 428.450.
NU saw a strong individual postseason performance, starting with the Big Ten Championships, which were hosted by Nebraska. Though the team struggled during night one, two Huskers finished the second night of competition in the top five on individual events. Junior Robbie Kocks grabbed his first Big Ten medal after finishing third on rings, while junior Grant Perdue finished fifth on floor exercise.
The Huskers then moved on to the NCAA Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. The team finished fifth out of six in their qualifying session, ending the team's 2014 season. Senior Wyatt Aycock qualified for all-around finals on April 11, where he finished eighth overall and grabbed All-American honors for the second year in a row.
Four Huskers qualified for the individual event semifinals, however, Perdue was the only member who qualified into the individual event finals on April 12. The two-time All-American honoree qualified on floor and vault, but was unable to place in the top eight on either event.
Five Nebraska seniors will graduate on May 10: rings specialist Donovan Arndt (marketing), two-time All-American Wyatt Aycock (biological sciences), co-captain Mark Ringle (nutrition and health sciences), all-arounder C.J. Schaaf (art), and co-captain Eric Schryver (nutrition and health sciences). Schryver announced Saturday night that he plans to begin his medical studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.