Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Open 2018 Season at Penn State

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. No. 17 Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday Jan. 13, 3 p.m. CT -- University Park, Pa. (Rec Hall)
Live Scores: Huskers.com
TV: BTNPlus 

Huskers Open 2018 Season at Penn State

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The preseason No. 9 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team begins its 2018 season this Saturday, visiting the17th-ranked Penn State in University Park, Pa. at Rec Hall at 3 p.m.

The Cornhuskers were picked 9th in the NACGC/W Preseason Coaches’ Poll and second in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ poll. Juniors Sienna Crouse and Megan Schweihofer were named to the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list.

Nebraska finished in seventh at the NCAA Championships in 2017 and returns nine letterwinners and two All-Americans in first-teamer Sienna Crouse and second-team honoree Danielle Breen. The Huskers welcome seven newcomers to the team, all true freshmen from across the country.

Saturday’s matchup will be the 46th all-time meeting between the two teams with Nebraska holding a 36-9 advantage. The Huskers won both meetings against Penn State a season ago, defeating the Nittany Lions by a score of 195.700-192.900 in Lincoln, before defeating PSU at the Big Ten Championships, 196.475-195.200.

Penn State began their season last weekend, opening with a win over Eastern Michigan, (194.275-192.900). Excluding a tie on the floor exercise, Penn State swept all event titles and the all-around in their opening competition.

The Huskers will begin the meet on uneven bars, before rotating to vault, floor exercise and balance beam. The meet will be streamed on BTN Plus and live scores for the gymnastics meet will be provided at Huskers.com.

Following Penn State, the Huskers return to Lincoln for a three-meet home stand, beginning Jan. 20 against Rutgers. The meet is a part of a double-dual meet with Nebraska men’s gymnastics against Ohio State.

Season tickets to Nebraska gymnastics are available now at Huskers.com or by calling 800-(8)BIG-RED. Season tickets are $25 for adults, $13 for seniors and youth, and all meets are free to UNL students and kids aged six and under. Tickets include access to both men’s and women’s gymnastics meets.

Scouting Penn State

No. 17 Penn State comes into the meet with a record of 1-0 after defeating Eastern Michigan with a score of 194.275 in a home meet last Saturday. Senior all-arounder Briannah Tsang shared the all-around title with freshman Lauren Bridgens with scores of 39.050. Tsang and Bridgens shard the vault title with scores of 9.825, while Tsang won the balance beam title with a score of 9.825.  Bridgens was named Big Ten Freshman Gymnast of the Week for her success. Penn State ranked No. 23 in the Road to Nationals Preseason Coaches’ Poll, and the Big Ten coaches predicted that the Nittany Lions would tie for fifth in the conference this season. Tsang and Bridgens were both named to the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list. Penn State returns 10 letterwinners from last season and welcomes four freshmen to the team in 2018. The Nittany Lions are under the direction of first-year Head Coach Sarah Brown.

Series History

The Huskers lead the all-time series with Penn State 36-9, including winning both meetings last season and all 12 meetings since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2012. NU has won the last 13 meetings with the Nittany Lions, going back to the 2009 season.

Season-Opening Success

Nebraska owns a stellar 74-22-1 (.762) record in season-opening meets, including a 31-12 mark under Head Coach Dan Kendig. The Huskers have faced Penn State in a season opener twice, defeating the Nittany Lions 195.200-194.575 at the Super Six Challenge in Fayetteville, Ark., on Jan. 5, 2007 and last seaosn’s opener in Lincoln where the Huskers defeated Penn State 195.700 - 192.900. NU has been victorious in each of its last four season-opening meets, defeating a total of five teams in the process.

Nebraska Opens Season Ranked No. 9 Nationally 

NU opens the season at No. 9 in the Road to Nationals Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the eighth-consecutive season the Huskers are ranked among the nation’s top 12 teams in the preseason poll. The only Big Ten team ranked higher than Nebraska is Michigan, who checked in at No. 7. Because Nebraska did not have a meet in the opening week of the season, the Huskers were not ranked in the Jan. 8 rankings, which are based on team scoring averages.

Huskers Picked Second in Big Ten

Coaches around the conference have picked Nebraska second in the Big Ten for the fifth consecutive year in the annual Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Since joining the conference before the 2012 season, Nebraska has been selected first or second in every preseason poll. In 2017, the Huskers shared the Big Ten Regular Season Championship with Michigan, which was ranked first in the poll. Iowa was picked to finish third, with Ohio State and Penn State rounding out the top five.

Strong Schedule in 2018

NU will face 11 teams ranked in the Road to Nationals preseason poll in 2018, including a trio of 2017 Super Six teams in reigning National Champion Oklahoma, third-place finisher Florida and fourth-place finished UCLA. Two more 2018 opponents were also receiving votes in the preseason poll, Michigan State and Pittsburgh. Nebraska will face a total of five Big Ten teams that were ranked in the preseason poll, including four teams ranked among the top-25.

Schweihofer, Crouse Named Gymnasts to Watch

Nebraska juniors Megan Schweihofer and Sienna Crouse were named to the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list. Crouse earned first-team All-America honors in 2017 on vault, when she earned a score of 9.9125 to finish fourth ihn the NCAA Semifinal session. Shweihofer, a consistent all-arounder for the Big Red in 2017, earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017 and was the only Husker to score a 9.90 or above at least once on all four events in 2017.

Up Next

Nebraska will return home for a three-meet home stand against three Big Ten foes, beginning with a double-dual with Nebraska men’s gymnastics on Jan. 20. The women will face Rutgers while the Husker men will face Ohio State and both meets will run simultaneously in the Bob Devaney Sports Center at 7 p.m.

Reigning B1G Champs Hope to Be Unstoppable 

The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team earned a share of the 2017 Big Ten Regular Season Championship and returns nine letterwinners and two All-Americans from the championship season. The Husker squad selects a team motto each year, and in 2018 the gymnasts hope to #beuNstoppable.

Strong Senior Class Leads Huskers

Nebraska returns three strong seniors for the 2018 season in Danielle Breen, Abbie Epperson and Grace Williams. Breen earned second-team All-America honors in 2017 on the balance beam when she hit a 9.90 at the NCAA Semifinal to tie for sixth. Notably, Breen became Nebraska’s 16th CoSIDA Academic All-American. Nebraska’s women’s gymnastics program has the second-most CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in the country with 16, behind Ohio State with 20. Epperson was a strong performer on multiple events in 2017, competing mostly as a three-event specialist in her first season as a Husker. Epperson comes from a strong Nebraska gymnast family, as both her mother, Lisa, father Mike, and brother Austin were all Husker gymnasts in their respective time. Epperson is expected to compete as an all-arounder for the Huskers in 2018. Rounding out the senior class, Williams paced the Huskers to a seventh-place national finish with three clutch performance on vault, balance beam and floor. Notably, Williams has been named first-team All-Big Ten (2016) and to the Big Ten Championships Team (2016) in her career.

Orel Returns Ready for 2018

Redshirt sophomore Catelyn Orel played an integral role for the Huskers in 2017, while sidelined with a season-ending injury. Prior to the 2017 season, Orel tore her Achilles tendon practicing last year’s floor routine she was never able to perform. Despite being sidelined, Orel took on a leadership role supporting her teammates to a Big Ten Championship and seventh-place national finish. Head Coach Dan Kendig credited Orel with unparalleled support for her teammates, and claimed the Huskers would not have done as well without her. Orel is back in 2018 and will be able to contribute athletically to the squad for the first time since 2016.

Big Red Contender for Youngest Team in the Nation

Nebraska boasts a young squad with seven true freshmen joining the action in 2018: Makayla Curtis (Savannah, Ga.); Anika Dujakovich (Lenexa, Kan.); Karley Hutchinson (Pearland, Texas); Torri Hutchinson (Pearland, Texas); Kynsee Roby (Windsor Heights, Iowa); Rachel Thompson (Lincoln, Neb.); and Megan Verceles Carr (Monte Sereno, Calif.). When comparing freshman as a portion of the entire squad to other squads in the country, the Huskers tie for second-youngest team with seven freshman on a 16-person team. Only Stanford has more freshman as a percentage of squad, with six freshman and 13 total team members. The Huskers are tied with Southeast Missouri with seven freshmen on a 16-gymnast squad.

All-Americans Breen, Crouse Bolster Nebraska

Nebraska earned three All-America honors in 2017 and lost former senior Ashley Lambert to graduation, but return senior Danielle Breen and junior Sienna Crouse. Breen earned second-team All-America honors in 2017 when she hit a 9.90 at the NCAA Semifinal to tie for sixth. Crouse returns after earning first-team All-America honors on vault in 2017. Crouse continues the Huskers’ tradition of having a first-team All-American every year since 2010. Crouse and Breen hope to take the Huskers back to the NCAA Super Six finals in 2018.

Huskers Welcome Former Olympian Chris Brooks to Coaching Staff

Head Coach Dan Kendig announced the addition of former Olympian Chris Brooks to his coaching staff, appointing Brooks as an assistant coach in August, just days after Brooks announced his retirement from gymnastics competition. Brooks was named to the five-man United States men’s gymnastics Olympic team and competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The United States finished in fifth place overall at the 2016 Olympic Games, while Brooks finished 14th in the individual men’s all-around competition. Brooks was also an accomplished gymnast at the collegiate level. He was a four-year letterwinner at Oklahoma where he was a seven-time All-American. With the Sooners, Brooks led his team to an NCAA title in 2008, and a third-place team finish in 2009. He finished third on floor exercise as a senior in 2009.

Nebraska Inks Four to Signing Class

Head Coach Dan Kendig announced the signing of four gymnasts to the 2018 signing class. Abigail Johnston (Parkland Fla.), Sarah Hargrove (Hendersonville, N.C.), Megan Thompson (Gilbert, Ariz.) and Kaylee Quinn (Rockaway N.J.) have signed letters of intent with the Huskers and will join the roster for the 2019 season.

Cornhuskers Grow Across United States

Nebraska features just one gymnast from Nebraska in freshman Rachel Thompson on the 16-gymnast squad. The other 15 Huskers reign from eight other states: California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and Texas.

Nebraska Board of Regents Approve New Gymnastics Training Facility

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved a proposal to build a new gymnastics training facility. The current plan calls for construction of the facility that will be used by Nebraska’s men’s and women’s programs as an addition to the northwest side of the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The facility will include training stations, coaches’ offices and locker rooms for both teams.

 

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