Huskers Face Adversity, Finish Fourth at Big Five Meet
EAST LANSING, Mich. – No. 11 Nebraska women’s gymnastics faced adversity in the form of six falls or missed routines at the Big Five meet hosted by Michigan State on Saturday afternoon, but managed to finish in fourth place with a team score of 194.900.
The Big Five meets determine the Big Ten regular season champion and the seeding for the Big Ten Championships, taking place next Saturday, March 24 at Illinois. The second Big Five meet began at 4:30 p.m. (CT) in Piscataway, N.J., and features No. 7 Michigan, Iowa, Rutgers, Penn State and Minnesota. Finishing in fourth, the Huskers qualify for the afternoon session of the Big Ten Championships. On the season, Nebraska slipped to 12-6 overall, and 6-3 in the Big Ten.
Illinois won the Big Five meet with a 196.850, Maryland finished in second with a 195.700, Ohio State snuck into third with a 195.150, Nebraska finished in fourth with a 194.900 and Michigan State rounded out the five-team-meet-up with a 192.825.
Freshman Kynsee Roby and junior Megan Schweihofer were bright spots on the day, as Schweihofer tied her career high in the all-around with a 39.475 and won the floor title out of nearly 30 competitors with a 9.95. Roby posted a career-high on bars with a 9.90 and two other scores over 9.80 as the Huskers depended on the freshman’s stability throughout the tough day.
Things started sunny for the Huskers who posted a team score of 49.150 on vault. Nebraska was led by Schweihofer who posted a 9.90, tying her career-high, to finish in second-place overall in the event. Taylor Houchin and Abbie Epperson posted competitive scores of 9.85 and 9.925, respectively, and Roby hit a 9.80 to help the Huskers. Sienna Crouse and Grace Williams rounded out the Husker lineup with a 9.775 and 9.75, respectively.
Meanwhile, eventual Big Five champion Illinois got down to business on floor where they posted a 49.400 as a team. Maryland opened on bars and posted a respectable 49.250, while Ohio State scored a 47.550 in their opening event on beam. Michigan State started out with a first-rotation bye.
Early in the lineup the Huskers hung on with Catelyn Orel starting out with a 9.775, and Roby shining with her career-high 9.90. Schweihofer scored a consistent 9.825 before the trouble started for the Huskers, who counted a fall after both Houchin and Crouse fell on bars, scoring 9.225 and 9.025, respectively. Abbie Epperson helped the Huskers in the event with a 9.875 and Nebraska scored a 48.600 in the event.
Illinois continued to roll and scored a 49.00 on vault, while Maryland scored a 48.30 on beam. Ohio State headed to a bye, and Michigan State opened with a 47.625 on floor. Through two rotations, Nebraska sat in second with a 97.750, while Illinois led with a 98.400. Maryland was in third with a 97.550.
The trouble continued for Nebraska on beam, when the Huskers were forced to count two of three falls. Danielle Breen and freshman Roby led the Huskers, each scoring a respectable 9.825, while Schweihofer hit a competitive 9.80 in the event. Epperson scored a 9.225 while Williams hit a 9.00 and Houchin scored a 8.550 with falls. Nebraska put together a season-low 47.675 on beam.
Illinois put together a 49.275 to secure their lead in the third rotation, while Maryland had a bye, and Michigan State scored a 48.400 on bars. Ohio State scored a 49.200 to stay in the hunt for third place. Collectively, Illinois scored 147.675, while Nebraska scored a 145.425, and Maryland and Michigan State had a 97.550 and 96.025, respectively through three rotations.
Nebraska moved into a bye during the fourth rotation and regained confidence to come back swinging in the fifth rotation.
Illinois moved to their final event, beam, where they sealed their win with a team score of 49.175. Maryland scored a 49.075 on floor, while Michigan State scored a challenging meet-best 49.300 on bars. Heading into the final rotation, Illinois had an eventual meet-winning score of 196.850, while Maryland had a 146.625. Ohio State posted a 145.875 while Nebraska scored a 145.425 and Michigan State scored 145.325.
Nebraska came into the final event swinging, tying its season-high floor score with a 49.475, despite a dropped score from a missed routine from Williams (9.30). Epperson opened for the Huskers on floor, scoring a respectable 9.875. Freshman Roby impressed with a 9.825 while Crouse brought the heat with a 9.925 to tie her season high on floor. It was Schweihofer who stole the show from the Huskers’ formidable day when she put together a career-high tying 9.95 performance on floor to win the event and end the meet on a bright spot for Nebraska.
The impressive comeback would not be enough for the Huskers to jump into the top three teams at the Big Five meet, and Nebraska will compete in the afternoon session of the Big Ten Championships for the first time since joining the Big Ten Conference.
With Illinois in a bye, Maryland scored a 49.075 on vault, Michigan State scored a 47.500 on beam, and Ohio State ended the day on bars with a 49.272.
Nebraska will travel to Champaign, Ill., to compete in the Big Ten Championships on Saturday, March 24. The Huskers are slated for the afternoon session of the Big Ten Championships at 2 p.m. CT. The podium meet will be broadcast live on BTN and BTN2Go and live scoring will be available.