Huskers Look for Third-Straight Conference Crown
2013 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Saturday, March 23 | East Lansing, Mich. (Jenison Field House)
Session I: Noon CT
Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State
Session II: 5 p.m. CT
Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State
The No. 9 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team will open postseason competition this weekend at the 2013 Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Championships in East Lansing, Mich. The meet will take place on Saturday, March 23 in Jenison Field House and will be split into afternoon and evening sessions. The No. 2-seed Huskers (9-3, 5-2 Big Ten) are slated to compete in the evening session at 5 p.m. CT alongside Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State. Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan State will compete in the afternoon session at noon CT.
Fans can catch both sessions of the championship meet live on BTN. Michigan State will provide live scoring and full results online at MSUSpartans.com. Live updates can also be accessed on Twitter by following the official Nebraska women’s gymnastics account, @HuskersWGym.
The Huskers enter this weekend on the hunt for their third consecutive conference title. NU took home top honors at the 2011 Big 12 Championship and the 2012 Big Ten Championship while capturing a total of 19 all-conference championship team awards. The Huskers posted a 197.100 at last season’s Big Ten Championship meet, led by Emily Wong’s all-around-winning effort of 39.600.
Gymnast to Watch
Emily Wong | Jr. | Grand Forks, N.D. (Red River Valley Gymnastics)
- Defending Big Ten champion on beam (9.90), floor (9.90) and in the all-around (39.600).
- Ranked in the nation's top-20 on bars, beam, floor and in all-around competition.
- Two-time first-team All-Big Ten pick and owns four All-Big Ten Championship Team honors.
Breaking Down the Big Ten Championship
This year’s Big Ten Championship field will feature a total of six top-20 teams, including a pair of top-10 squads in No. 3 Michigan and No. 9 Nebraska. Additionally, six of the eight teams competing have posted their top score of the season during the month of March.
The afternoon session of the championship will see competition between the No. 5-8 seeds of event: Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State. The sixth-seeded Buckeyes were the Big Ten runner-up last season and bring an RQS of 195.825 to the table this weekend. Illinois will be led into competition by senior Alina Weinstein, one of the conference’s top all-arounders.
Four of the nation’s top teams will take to the gym in the evening session as the championship’s No. 1-4 seeds: Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota and Penn State. All four programs have posted scores of 197.000 or better this season, including Nebraska’s conference-best mark of 197.675. The Wolverines and the Golden Gophers each finished 2013 with a conference mark of 6-1 to claim a share of the regular season title.
This weekend’s meet will also be a battle for the conference’s top honors in all-around competition. Five of the top 11 all-around performers in the nation will take the floor at the Big Ten Championships: Illinois’ Weinstein (T-No. 7), Michigan’s Joanna Sampson (T-No. 3), Nebraska’s Emily Wong (T-No. 3) and Jessie DeZiel (No. 11) and Penn State’s Sharaya Musser (No. 10).
Nebraska Shines in Road Win at Cal
An outstanding team outing on vault and stellar performances from three all-around competitors powered the Huskers to a 197.525-196.525 win over the Cal Golden Bears on Saturday, March 16. The performance by NU gave the squad their second-highest score of the season and their highest road total this year.
Nebraska was led by junior Emily Wong, who earned or tied for titles on bars (9.925), beam (9.90) and floor (9.925) to take her sixth all-around title this season at 39.675. Her all-around score also tied her career-high from two weeks ago vs. Iowa. Hollie Blankse and Jessie DeZiel tied for top honors on vault with identical scores of 9.95, and Brittany Skinner earned a share of the beam title (9.90).
The Huskers opened the night on bars, posting their highest road score on the event this season at 49.300. NU was led by Wong, who began her evening in the all-around with a meet-best 9.925. DeZiel earned a 9.875, and Blanske tied her career-best on the event at 9.85.
Nebraska erupted on vault in their second rotation, posting the nation’s best team score this season with a 49.650. Leading the way on vault for the Big Red were DeZiel and Blanske, who earned identical marks of 9.95. DeZiel’s score tied her career-high, while Blanske’s mark was a new career-best for the freshman. Wong and Brittany Skinner added powerful 9.925 routines each, and Giblin earned a new season-best with a 9.90.
Nebraska’s momentum carried over to floor, where the team pulled down a solid overall mark at 49.275. Wong led NU, posting her third consecutive 9.925 on the evening. Skinner tied her career-best with a 9.875, and DeZiel added a 9.875 as well.
The Huskers sealed their victory on beam, posting a 49.300 on their final event of the night. Wong and Skinner paced the Huskers, each earning 9.90s. Skinner’s mark gave her a new career-high. DeZiel added a season-best-tying score of 9.875, and Jennifer Lauer earned a 9.825.
NU’s all-arounders put up three outstanding performances on the evening. In addition to Wong’s meet-best 39.675, DeZiel finished second with a 39.575. Skinner added a 39.525, a new career-best for the senior. The Bears were led by Alicia Asturias, who earned a 39.375 to finish fourth.
NU Cracks the Top-10 at No. 9
The Huskers’ 197.525 effort at Cal last weekend boosted the team into the top-10 of this week’s GymInfo national rankings, released March 18. Nebraska earned an RQS of 196.840 to jump past Oregon and Stanford into the No. 9 position. NU also broke into the top-10 nationlly on three events, coming in at sixth on beam (49.185), seventh on bars (49.265) and eighth on vault (49.350).
Three Nebraska individuals pulled down a total of eight appearances in the rankings, led by Emily Wong’s four top-15 scores. One of the nation’s premier all-around competitors, Wong is tied for third in the all-around with an RQS of 39.550. She is also seventh on floor (9.920) and tied for 11th on bars (9.90) and 15th on beam (9.890).
Jessie DeZiel earned three individual rankings this week, including 11th in the all-around (39.475). After tying her career-best vault score of 9.95 three weeks in a row, she broke into the vault rankings at a tie for 12th this week (9.910). DeZiel is also tied for 14th on bars (9.895).
Senior Janelle Giblin held onto her top-20 ranking on uneven bars for the second consecutive week, appearing in a tie for 14th (9.895) with DeZiel.
Up Next for Nebraska
Dan Kendig’s squad has placed itself in prime position to capture the program’s 30th consecutive postseason appearance in 2013. Nebraska will aim for one more strong performance this weekend to boost its RQS for favorable seeding heading into NCAA Regional competition on April 6. The 2013 regional sites are Tuscaloosa, Ala., Gainesville, Fla., Columbus, Ohio, Norman, Okla., Corvallis, Ore., and Morgantown, W.Va.
The National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Committee will conduct selections for the NCAA Championships on March 24-25. The field of 36 teams will be announced in a selection show on Monday, March 25. Six teams will be named to each of the six regional sites. The top-18 teams are then seeded and placed on a national basis, based on their respective RQS scores.
Looking Back: Nebraska at the 2012 Big Ten Championships
The Huskers posted a 197.100 at the 2012 Big Ten Championships to earn their second-consecutive conference crown in Iowa City, Iowa. NU was led by Emily Wong, who won the all-around title by posting a 39.600--the third-highest all-around score in Nebraska history at a conference championship meet. Ohio State picked up a 196.225 to finish second, and Minnesota took third at 195.950.
A conference-leading five Huskers were also named to the Big Ten All-Championship team for finishing in the top three of an individual event or in the all-around. Jessie DeZiel (FX, AA), Jamie Schleppenbach (V), Emily Wong (V, BB, FX, AA), Lora Evenstad (UB, FX) and Janelle Giblin (UB) were all recognized on the team. Immediately following the meet, DeZiel was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Head Coach Dan Kendig was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Kendig’s honor marked his eighth conference coach of the year award.
Nebraska posted the third-highest team score in conference championship history at Nebraska. Wong played a huge part in the Huskers’ success, capturing Big Ten event titles on beam (9.90) and floor (9.90) to go along with her all-around crown. Evenstad won the Big Ten bars (9.925) title and tied for the title on floor with DeZiel and Wong, who all posted a 9.90 on the event. DeZiel finished second in the all-around with a 39.525.
Five Huskers Earn All-Big Ten Honors
Nebraska placed five gymnasts on the 2013 Big Ten All-Conference teams, the league office announced on March 18. Jessie DeZiel, Janelle Giblin, Jennifer Lauer and Emily Wong earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for their performances throughout the season, while Brittany Skinner picked up NU’s lone second-team award.
DeZiel is the conference’s No. 5 all-around performer, holding an RQS of 39.475 and a high score of 39.675 this season. She is also ranked in the Big Ten’s top 10 on three individual events, tying for first on vault (9.910), third on bars (9.895) and 10th on beam (9.845). DeZiel has earned two career first-team All-Big Ten selections.
Giblin secured her first-team all-conference spot by tying for third on bars with an RQS of 9.895. She has been one of the nation’s top performers on bars throughout the season, earning a 10.0 against Iowa in early March. Giblin’s All-Big Ten selection is the senior’s third career all-conference honor.
Jennifer Lauer was named to the All-Big Ten first team based on her beam ranking: the sophomore is tied for fifth in the conference, holding an RQS of 9.870. She leads the Huskers in beam titles earned this season, logging top honors on the event in four meets.
Wong is tied for the No. 1 spot in Big Ten all-around competition with an RQS of 39.550. The junior is third on beam (9.890) and floor (9.920) and is also tied for first on bars (9.90) in the conference. Her first-team award marks the second all-conference selection of her career.
Skinner captured the No. 7 spot in the conference vault rankings, holding an RQS of 9.895. She has tied her career-high mark of 9.925 on the event three times this season and owns three vault titles in 2013. Her second-team All-Big Ten honor gives the senior her first career all-conference award.
All-Big Ten honorees were chosen based on a new selection process this season. The top ten student-athletes were allotted points based on their Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) standing, with 10 points given to the No. 1 ranked athlete and one point given to the No. 10-ranked athlete. All points from each event and in the all-around were then combined, with ties given the same number of points. The student-athletes with the 12 highest point totals were named to the first team, while the next 12 captured second-team accolades.
Emily Wong has set herself apart as one of the finest all-around competitors in the nation throughout 2013. Heading into postseason competition, Wong is tied for third nationally in the all-around and first in the Big Ten. She has scored a 39.600 or better in the all-around four times this season and owns a team-high 19 individual event titles, including six in the all-around.
Wong has posted a career-best mark of 39.675 two times this March, with the first coming against Iowa on March 4 and the second at Cal on March 16. She won a total of six event titles in those two meets while scoring only one event below a 9.90.
DeZiel Dazzles on Vault
Jessie DeZiel has hit her stride as the anchor of NU’s vaulting lineup in the month of March. The sophomore has earned four vault titles this season and has won the event at all three of Nebraska’s meets this month. In addition, DeZiel has hit a 9.95 on the event in three consecutive meets. Her efforts have snagged her a place in the national vault rankings, where she is tied for 12th nationally and first in the Big Ten with an RQS of 9.910.
Assistant Coach Dan Miller has elevated Nebraska’s vaulting corps into one of the team’s top scoring threats this season. After a slow start at the beginning of 2013, the Huskers have logged three of their top four scores this season in the past three weeks. NU has risen to No. 8 nationally on the event, holding an RQS of 49.350.
After posting two of their top efforts of the season against Iowa (49.400) on March 4 and at Minnesota (49.375) on March 9, Nebraska blew both of those efforts out of the water in their regular season finale at Cal. A whopping five Huskers posted scores of 9.90 or better as the team earned the nation’s highest vault score this season: 49.650. Three of NU’s competitors (DeZiel, Blanske, Skinner) posted or tied career-high scores on the event, while one additional Husker (Giblin) earned a season-high.
Nebraska’s 49.650 is the third-highest vault score in school history and the highest on the event for any Husker squad since 2004.
One of the Best, Bar None
Nebraska’s steady work on bars has giving the Huskers a consistently powerful event, particularly during the final four meets of the regular season. Since Feb. 22, the Huskers have posted bars scores of 49.325, 49.625, 49.200 and 49.300. The team’s efforts have translated to a national ranking of seventh on bars with an RQS of 49.265.
The highlight of NU’s bars performances this season came at home against Iowa, when Kendig’s squad used outstanding performances from all six competitors on uneven bars to seal a team score of 49.625. Of Nebraska’s six gymnasts on the event, five posted or tied career-bests on bars to aid the Big Red--including a perfect 10.0 from Janelle Giblin.
Nebraska’s efforts added up to a team mark of 49.625, the second-highest bars score posted in the nation this season. The score is also the second-highest in school history, trailing only Nebraska’s effort of 49.725 posted at the 2001 Big 12 Championships.
Six All-Americans Poised to Lead Huskers in 2013
NU's efforts this season have been anchored by its six returning All-Americans, including three honorees that captured eight awards last season. Jessie DeZiel, Janelle Giblin and Emily Wong headline a group that has won 16 awards since 2010 and also includes seniors Kassandra Nathe and Brittany Skinner and junior Jamie Schleppenbach.
Nebraska will look for sustained success from its vaulting corps as it fields four previous All-Americans. The group is led by 2012 first-team All-American Giblin and second-team honoree DeZiel alongside previous first-teamers Schleppenbach and Skinner.
The Huskers will also welcome back three previous All-Americans in both all-around competition and on uneven bars. Notably returning to the competition floor on bars this season is 2010 second-team All-American Nathe, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury. Nathe is expected to provide a spark as well as depth to NU's bar lineup in 2013. Nebraska returns two All-Americans on floor and beam as well.
Kendig Architect of One of Nation's Top Programs
Now in his 20th year at the helm of the Nebraska gymnastics program, Head Coach Dan Kendig is the all-time winningest coach in Nebraska history. Kendig holds a 449-173-4 record overall and a 300-71-2 regular-season mark. An eight-time conference coach of the year selection, Kendig most recently earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors last season after guiding the 2012 Huskers to the program's 22nd conference title.
Kendig has also led the Huskers to 15 NCAA Championship appearances in the past 18 season, including NCAA 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 2012 Huskers to a 24-7 record overall, including an eighth-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga. The performance marked Nebraska's 28th consecutive NCAA post season appearance, while three of Kendig's gymnasts--Jessie DeZiel (FX, AA, V), Janelle Giblin (V, UB) and Emily Wong (BB, FX, AA)--earned All-America honors.
NU Assistants Boost Husker Efforts in 2013
Joining Kendig in his leadership of the Huskers this season are second-year assistant coaches Heather Brink and Dan Miller. Brink continues her role in the gym as the team's beam coach while assisting with floor choreography. Brink has boosted Nebraska to a No. 6 national ranking on the event while guiding Jennifer Lauer and Emily Wong to a combined seven titles. In her first season as an assistant with the Huskers, Brink helped coach Emily Wong to first-team All-America honors on beam. Brink's assistance with NU's floor routines also guided Jessie DeZiel to first-team All-America honors and Wong to second-team honors on the event.
Miller continues to lead NU's efforts on vault and floor in 2013. Miller's gymnasts have snagged 13 titles on vault and nine on floor this season. During his first season at Nebraska in 2012, Miller guided DeZiel to first-team All-America honors on floor and second-team honors on vault. He also assisted in the development of Janelle Giblin, who earned first-team honors on vault, and Wong, who picked up second-team honors on floor. The gymnasts under Miller's tutelage in 2012 garnered a total of 15 floor titles and 14 vault titles throughout the season.
Volunteer assistant coach Owen Field, now in his third season in that position, aids NU's full-time staff in 2013. Field will assist head coach Dan Kendig on the uneven bars while also working with the Huskers' strength and conditioning program.
Huskers Sign Two for 2014
The Huskers announced the addition of a pair of multi-talented recruits for 2014 in November. Dan Kendig and the Big Red will welcome Ashley Lambert and Jennie Laeng next year, rounding out the Husker roster and giving the Huskers increased depth and new skills in their lineup.
"We are very excited about the signing of both Ashley and Jennie," Kendig said. "They will both bring a vast amount of experience and skill to our team next year. They complement each other extremely well: Ashley is powerful and her best events are floor and vault, while Jennie will be a force on bars and beam."
A native of Virginia, Lambert is a level ten gymnast that has trained at World Class Gymnastics under coaches Tami Harrison and Troy Miller. Lambert is a four-time Junior Olympic National Qualifier. In 2012, she notched a fifth-place finish in all-around competition and a second-place finish on floor at Regionals. Lambert also picked up a third-place finish in all-around at the Regional level in 2011 that included first-place finishes on vault and floor.A level ten gymnast from Ohio, Laeng trains at Olympic Dreams Gymnastics and has qualified for both Junior Olympic Nationals and the Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament. In 2011, Laeng finished first in all-around and beam competition at the Junior Olympic National Invitational. She added a fifth-place finish on bars and seventh on beam at the 2012 Junior Olympic National Championship.