Huskers close 2014 with Strong National Finish
The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team capped a stellar 2014 season at the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala., finishing in sixth place in team competition and taking away an overall record of 27-11 on the year. Four Huskers earned seven All-America honors at the event and all competed at the individual event finals. NU recorded its 11th Super Six and 22nd overall appearance at the NCAA Championships. On the conference level, Nebraska took home its fourth consecutive conference crown.
Senior Emily Wong cemented her position as one of the nation’s top all-around athletes in the country and capped one of the most impressive senior seasons by a Nebraska gymnast. Through the regular season, Wong captured 32 event titles, remained undefeated in the all-around and remained ranked in the top 15 nationally on every event.
Wong took home three All-America honors at the NCAA Championships to give her 11 total honors which tie with both Emily Parsons and Heather Brink for the most in school history. In semifinal competition, Wong put-up a 39.525 all-around score to finish sixth overall. On floor, she notched a 9.90 to earn her eighth-place in event finals. At the Big Ten Championship meet, she collected two career-high scores on beam (9.95) and floor posting a perfect 10.00 to claim both event titles. She was awarded Big Ten Gymnast of the Year after the meet.
Wong continued to stockpile honors both in the gym and the classroom in 2014, as she was selected Nebraska’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year and Honda Award finalist. She became the second Nebraska gymnast presented with the AAI American Award, an honor given annually to the nation’s top gymnast on the basis of athleticism, academic excellence and civic responsibility. Wong also captured her second consecutive CoSIDA Academic All-America honor being named to the first-team.
Fellow senior Jamie Schleppenbach returned to the Husker lineup in 2014 bringing considerable experience and strong performances. She earned first-team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships after posting her career-high 9.90 on beam in the Semifinals. She logged 15 performances on beam and was one of the team’s most consistent workers never dropping below a 9.75 during the regular season. She topped her career at the NCAA event finals where she hit a 9.8875 routine that tied for third-place overall. The two-event specialist also contributed vital performances on floor, claiming her career-high mark of 9.85 at Penn State. Schleppenbach earned her second Academic All-Big Ten honor during the season.
Jessie DeZiel had an outstanding junior campaign for the Huskers, continuing the dominancy and consistency she displayed years before. The seven-time All-American defended her status as one of the nation’s best all-around competitors by capturing 10 event titles including two in the all-around and five on vault.
She capped her season at the NCAA Championships putting together a stellar performance to place eighth overall in the all-around competition (39.500). DeZiel was an integral part of the Huskers beam lineup where she posted a 9.90 to earn first-team All-America status. A powerful vaulter, DeZiel took home her second consecutive Regional vault title with a score of 9.95, while also placing third in the all-around. She captured NACGC/W second-team All-America honors on vault for her efforts during the regular season.
Junior Desire’ Stephens was a major contributor to Nebraska’s success in 2014, competing on vault, bars and floor exercise in nearly every meet. The Omaha, Neb., native, who competed some of the Huskers’ strongest tumbling, tied her season-best on floor exercise (9.825) four times over the course of the year, including postseason competition at the NCAA Semifinal and Super Six Finals in Birmingham.
In addition, Stephens was among NU’s most consistent vaulters, as she posted a 9.80 or better on the event in 12 meets. She enjoyed one of her finest showings at the NCAA Seattle Regional where she posted a career-high 9.90 to tie for fifth-place overall with teammate Emily Wong. She also took home second-place against Minnesota on Feb. 1 with a 9.875 on the event. She claimed her career-high score of 9.875 on bars against Northern Illinois for the season opener. In the classroom, she added Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Junior Amanda Lauer filled a number of roles for Nebraska in her junior season, contributing as a two-event specialist and a dependable leadoff on the most crucial event. Lauer established herself early in 2014 as a beam specialist and never gave up her spot in the lineup all year. She tallied 14 routines on beam and never recorded a fall in the leadoff position.
At the 2014 NCAA Championships Lauer was the spark to the historical beam lineup by putting together a seamless performance claiming her career-high 9.85 score. Her efforts propelled the Huskers to the Super Six Finals the following night.
Lauer came on strong towards the end of the season moving into the bar lineup adding crucial routines. She picked up her career-high 9.85 score at the Big Ten Championships. Lauer is a standout in the classroom collecting Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors.
Teammate and sister, Jennifer Lauer kicked off her junior campaign in stellar form before falling to a season ending injury. Prior to her injury Lauer knocked down five beam titles in five showings on the event, highlighted by her performance at Penn State where she earned Big Ten event specialist of the Week honors after taking her fifth beam crown with a score of 9.925. She took home her second Academic All-Big Ten honor for her work in the classroom.
Hollie Blanske became an All-American in 2014, earning first-team accolades on beam at the NCAA Championships. Blanske proved to be one of the Huskers’ most valuable gymnasts and continually provided clutch performances in every event.
Blanske did not miss a meet all season in the all-around delivering her best performance at the Big Ten Championships soaring to a 39.600. Her performance included two career-high scores on floor (9.95) and beam (9.90) en-route to finishing as the Big Ten all-around runner up. She was named to the Big Ten Championship team for both beam, floor and the all-around. At the NCAA Championships, Blanske proved her strength as a powerful beam worker as she recorded a career-high matching 9.90 on beam at the team Semifinals and at the Super Six Finals. She took 10th place overall on beam with a 9.85 mark at the Event Finals.
Ariel Martin stepped up as a three-event competitor for Nebraska in her first season, consistently contributing on vault, bars and floor. Martin was a key performer on vault as she did not miss one meet on the event and achieved her career-high mark of 9.95 against Arkansas. Martin earned her best mark on bars against Minnesota notching a 9.825. As a floor worker, she showed steady improvement all season long and claimed her high mark at the NCAA Semifinals (9.85) to propel the Huskers to the Super Six Finals the next day.
Freshman Jennie Laeng provided a surprising spark in the Husker lineup during the 2014 season. In her collegiate gymnastics debut against Michigan, Laeng took second place on bars hitting a career-high 9.875 and remained in the rotation for the rest of the season. Laeng showed her prowess on bars early in the year, as she became one of the Huskers’ most consistent performers on the event by scoring a 9.80 or better seven times throughout the season. In addition, Laeng competed in the all-around competition three times earning her best performance at the Big Ten quad meet of 39.325. Laeng capped her freshman season at the Super Six Finals where she notched her career-high 9.90 on beam.
Madison McConkey provided necessary depth to the Huskers roster this season. The sophomore became a bars specialist and made her debut on the event against Michigan. McConkey picked up her career-high mark of 9.70 against Arkansas.
Jordyn Beck and Ashley Lambert were slowed by injuries in 2014, as the duo only competed in the first five meets of the season.
Head coach Dan Kendig wrapped up his 21st season at Nebraska with a record of 486-186-5 and a career mark of 599-298-5. Kendig’s 486 wins are a program record and place him fourth all-time across all sports in Nebraska history. He has guided Nebraska to four consecutive conference titles, giving him 14 overall. Kendig has also coached 39 Huskers gymnasts to 134 awards since 1995.
National and Conference Prominence
• Nebraska closed out 2014 with a 27-11 record, making its 30th consecutive postseason appearance at the NCAA Championships where the team finished sixth overall.
• Four Huskers earned seven All-America honors at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Emily Wong earned two first-team (FX, BB) and one second-team honor (AA), while Jessie DeZiel earned one first-team (BB) and one second-team (AA) selection. Both Hollie Blanske and Jamie Schleppenbach received first-team honors on beam.
• Wong and DeZiel notched two top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. Wong finished sixth in the all-around (39.525) and eighth on floor (9.90), while DeZiel took eighth in both the all-around (39.500) and on beam (9.8625). Schleppenbach finished third on beam 9.8875, while Blanske added a 10th place finish (9.85).
• Two Huskers were selected as NACGC/W All-Americans in regular season competition. First-team honoree was Emily Wong on floor and the all-around, while adding second-team honors on bars and beam. DeZiel also collected second-team laurels on vault.
Success in the Big Ten
• Nebraska earned its fourth consecutive conference title as they were named Big Ten Regular season Champions after the Big Ten Quad meet.
• The Huskers took second place at the Championship meet with a score of 196.950. Emily Wong took home two event titles on beam (9.95) and floor with a perfect 10.00 score.
• Emily Wong was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year.
• Hollie Blanske was the Big Ten All-Around Runner Up with a score of 39.600
• Three Huskers were named to the Big Ten All-Championships team: Jessie DeZiel (V, UB), Hollie Blanske (AA, BB, FX) and Emily Wong (BB, FX).
• Emily Wong (Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 3, March 10, March 17) and Jessie DeZiel (Feb. 24) were selected as the Big Ten Gymnast of the week in 2014. Jennifer Lauer (Feb. 10) was also chosen as the Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week.
• Head Coach Dan Kendig finishes his 21st season at Nebraska with a 599-298-5 career mark and a 486-186-5 NU mark, continuing his impressive career as the winningest coach in NU women’s gymnastics history.
• A Big Ten-best nine Huskers snagged academic All-Big Ten honors, giving the women’s gymnastics program 159 total academic all-conference selections. Jordyn Beck, Hollie Blanske, Jessie DeZiel, Amanda Lauer, Jennifer Lauer, Madison McConkey, Jamie Schleppenbach, Desire’ Stephens and Emily Wong were all honored by the conference.