Jennie Laeng and the Huskers will compete in the second NCAA Semifinal, set for Friday at 7 p.m. (CT).
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Set for NCAA Championships

By NU Athletic Communications

No. 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers (27-7, 15-4 Big Ten) at NCAA Semifinal II

Friday, April 14, 7 p.m. (CT) – St. Louis, Mo. (Chaifetz Arena)

TV: ESPNU (Talent: Bart Conner, Kathy Johnson Clarke, Laura Rutledge)

Internet: Watch ESPN – Broadcast | Vault | Uneven Bars | Balance Beam | Floor Exercise | All-Around

Live Scores: STLSports.org

Championship Central: STLSports.org

Huskers Set for NCAA Championships
The 14th-seeded Nebraska women’s gymnastics team gears up for the NCAA Championships, as the Cornhuskers will compete in NCAA Semifinal II this Friday at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Mo. The meet is set to begin at 7 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on ESPNU with Bart Conner, Kathy Johnson Clarke and Laura Rutledge on the call. Coverage will switch to ESPN live at 8 p.m. for the rest of the meet. The meet can also be seen in its entirety on WatchESPN.com or the Watch ESPN app. Live streams for each individual event can also be seen on Watch ESPN. ESPNU will simulcast the Watch ESPN All-Around view beginning at 8 p.m. when coverage moves to ESPN. 

The Huskers (27-7, 15-4 Big Ten) are set to compete against second-seeded LSU, third-seeded Florida, sixth-seeded Alabama, seventh-seeded Michigan and 10th-seeded Georgia, as the top three team finishers in the session will advance to the NCAA Super Six Finals, which will be held on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Nebraska enters Friday following a second-place finish at the NCAA Lincoln Regional on April 1 with a score of 196.625. Nebraska led third-place Boise State by just 0.125 heading into the final rotation, as the Big Red locked down their spot in the NCAA Championships with a strong 49.250 on beam. With three hit routines, including Sierra Hassel’s career-high 9.875, and one fall heading into the last two routines, Grace Williams and Danielle Breen sealed the Huskers second-place finish with scores of 9.90 and 9.95, respectively. Breen’s 9.95 was a career high and the highest beam score in the meet. Taylor Houchin led the Huskers with a score of 39.250 in the all-around.

Nebraska’s Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.725 added to its regional score gives NU a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 393.350, which ranks 10th in the nation. In the final Road to Nationals Rankings released March 20, NU ranked in the top-15 in the nation on vault, bars and floor. The Huskers ranked ninth on bars with an RQS of 49.295, 11th on floor with an RQS of 49.300 and 13th on vault with an RQS of 49.185.

LSU won the Lincoln Regional with a score of 197.450, while Florida won the Gainesville Regional with a score of 197.125. Michigan and Alabama took the top two spots at the Morgantown Regional with scores of 197.350 and 196.625. Georgia placed second in Gainesville with a score of 196.775.

Nebraska will begin the meet on bars, before rotating to beam, a bye, floor, vault and ending on a bye. Camille Drouin-Allaire, an all-arounder from George Washington will rotate the Huskers at the meet as a competing individual. Live scores for the meet will be available at STLSports.org.

Last Time Out
Nebraska earned a spot in the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish at the NCAA Lincoln Regional with a score of 196.625. LSU won the regional with a score of 197.450. Leading third-place Boise State by just 0.125 heading into the final rotation, NU sealed the second-place finish with a strong 49.250 on beam, led by Danielle Breen’s career-high 9.95.

Breen Wins NCAA Regional Beam Title
Danielle Breen won her third beam title of the year, as she took the top spot at the NCAA Lincoln Regional with a career-high 9.95 in Nebraska’s final routine of the night to clinch NU’s second-place finish and a spot in the NCAA Championships. The Huskers had a fall in their fourth routine, but Grace Williams posted a 9.90 and Breen anchored the lineup with her 9.95. Breen’s score tied a Nebraska postseason record on the event.

Houchin Named Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Taylor Houchin was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, voted on by the conference’s coaches and announced following the Big Ten Championships on March 18. The Republic, Mo., native has become one of Nebraska’s top all-arounders in her first season as a Husker, as she set a Nebraska freshman record with a 39.650 in the all-around at the Masters Classic on Feb. 25. Houchin has hit a 9.95 on floor twice, which tied a program freshman record on the event. She becomes the second Husker to win the award since NU joined the conference before the 2012 season, following Jessie DeZiel in 2012.

Crouse, Houchin and Laeng Named to All-Championships Team
Three Huskers were named to the Big Ten All-Championships Team as top-three finishers on individual events at the conference meet. Senior Jennie Laeng was named to the team on uneven bars for the third-consecutive season, as she tied for second with a score of 9.90. Crouse and Houchin both tied for third on vault, as the pair scored 9.875s.

NU Clinches a Share of the Big Ten Regular Season Title
The Cornhuskers clinched their first Big Ten regular season championship since the 2014 season, sharing the title with Michigan as the two teams posted 8-1 records in conference action in the regular season. The regular season championship is the second for NU since joining the conference before the 2012 season.

All-Big Ten Honors Awarded to Six Huskers
Nebraska gymnasts Taylor Houchin, Jennie Laeng and Ashley Lambert were named first-team All-Big Ten, while Danielle Breen, Sienna Crouse and Megan Schweihofer earned second-team honors, as the Big Ten announced its all-conference teams on March 13. The All-Big Ten teams were determined using Regional Qualifying Scores (RQS) from RoadToNationals.com. The top 15 individuals are taken from each event and the all-around, and the highest score is assigned 15 points, with the next-highest score assigned 14 points and on down the line to one point for the 15th-highest score. The 2017 All-Big Ten teams include 16 members on the first team, and 18 members on the second team due to ties.

Scouting the Semifinal
No. 2 LSU enters the meet with a record of 25-1 following a first-place finish at the NCAA Lincoln Regional with a score of 197.450. The Tigers have a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 197.865 on the season, and a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 395.315, which ranks second in the nation. LSU is the top vault team in the country with an RQS of 49.540, led by Ashleigh Gnat, who ranks first on the event with an RQS of 9.970. The Tigers finished second at the NCAA Championships last season. LSU is coached by D-D Breaux, who is in her 40th season as head coach.

No. 3 Florida is 19-3 on the season after a first-place finish at the NCAA Gainesville Regional with a score of 197.125. The Gators have an RQS of 197.635 on the season, and a NQS of 394.760, which ranks third in the nation. Florida’s vault RQS of 49.465 ranks second in the nation. The Gators finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in 2016, after claiming the title in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Jenny Rowland is in her second season as Florida’s head coach.

No. 6 Alabama is 16-7 on the season after finishing second at the NCAA Morgantown Regional with a score of 196.625. The Crimson Tide has an RQS of 196.625 on the year, and an NQS of 393.980. Alabama is led by third-year head coach Dana Duckworth.

No. 7 Michigan comes into Friday with a record of 26-3 on the season after a first-place finish at the NCAA Morgantown Regional with a score of 197.350. The Wolverines, who tied with Nebraska for the Big Ten regular-season championship and finished first at the Big Ten Championships, have an RQS of 197.135 and an NQS of 394.485, which ranks fifth in the nation. Michigan is led by 28th-year head coach Bev Plocki.

No. 10 Georgia enters the meet with a record of 15-10 after finishing second at the NCAA Gainesville Regional with a score of 196.775. The Gymdogs have an RQS of 197.005 and an NQS of 393.780, which ranks ninth in the nation. Georgia is led by fifth-year head coach Danna Durante, a former assistant coach at Nebraska from 2003-2011.

Last Year at the NCAA Championships
Nebraska finished eighth at the 2016 NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, with a score of 195.775 to take fifth place in the second semifinal session. Hollie Blanske earned first-team All-America honors on vault and second-team honors on floor and in the all-around at the meet, as she finished second in the session with a 9.925 on vault, tied for seventh on floor with a score of 9.875 and fifth in the all-around with a score of 39.4375.

Huskers Honored at “A Night at the Lied”
The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team received numerous awards at NU’s student-athlete awards ceremony, A Night at the Lied on Sunday at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The Huskers captured the prestigious Women’s Life Skills Awards of Excellence for their exceptional commitment to NU’s award-winning Life Skills program, the first time receiving the award since it began in 2004. Jennie Laeng was honored as one of five Outstanding Scholar Award winners, which is presented to Husker student-athletes in their final season of eligibility or who are graduating next month while carrying a 3.90 or better GPA. She also earned Nebraska Life Skills’ most prestigious individual award, the Heart & Soul Award. Danielle Breen and Megan Kuo were honored with a Sam Foltz Hero 27 Leadership Award, named in honor of late former Husker punter Sam Foltz and presented to 27 student-athletes across all Nebraska’s sports that exhibit strong leadership qualities, commitment to service and ability to encourage/empower peers.

Up Next
The top three team finishers in each semifinal session at the NCAA Championships will advance to the NCAA Super Six Finals, set for 8 p.m. on Saturday. The meet will be televised on ESPNU. Utah, UCLA, Washington, Denver, Oklahoma and Oregon State will compete in Semifinal I on Friday, which is set to begin at noon.

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