Huskers Advance to Nationals, Score Season-High 197.525
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nebraska punched their ticket to the NCAA National Semifinals after finishing in second place at the NCAA Raleigh Regional with a season-high team score of 197.525, its best score in five years. Sophomore Taylor Houchin was named the Regional Champion on bars with a 9.975, and the Regional Co-Champion on vault with a 9.95.
Louisiana State University finished first in the Raleigh Regional with a 197.625, claiming the other qualifying spot to the NCAA National Semifinal on April 20 in St. Louis, Mo. North Carolina State finished in third with 196.050, while Maryland finished fourth with a 195.850. George Washington and Oregon State rounded out the group with scores of 195.425 and 194.975, respectively.
Houchin claimed the bars title and shared the vault title, the first time a Husker has clinched two individual titles at a regional since Emily Wong completed the feat in 2014. Nebraska’s 197.525 is the highest team score for Nebraska since March 13, 2013 at the Big Ten Championships. Nebraska did not qualify for the NCAA National Semifinals in 2013.
This is Nebraska’s 33rd NCAA Regional, and the Huskers’ 28th time advancing to the NCAA National Semifinal. Head coach Dan Kendig amassed his 700th win in the Huskers' postseason run. The three seniors, Danielle Breen, Abbie Epperson and Grace Williams have advanced to the NCAA National Semifinals all years of their Husker careers. Epperson, who transferred from Maryland, did not compete at the National Semifinals her first two years, but did in both of her years as a Husker.
Nebraska got right down to business on the balance beam, scoring a season-high 49.375 as a team in the first rotation. The Huskers hit all six routines, stuck all six beam dismounts, and each gymnast scored over 9.825 in the event. Freshman Kynsee Roby got Nebraska off to a great start with a 9.85, followed by Abbie Epperson’s solid 9.825. Megan Schweihofer added another 9.85 before Taylor Houchin hit a 9.875. Danielle Breen hit a 9.90 in her specialty event before anchor Grace Williams hit a 9.90 to seal Nebraska’s season-high 49.375.
Nebraska led all teams through one rotation with their 49.375, with LSU close on the Cornhuskers’ heels with a 49.350 on floor. North Carolina State scored 48.925 on bars, while Maryland scored a 48.900 on vault. Oregon State and George Washington began the meet on byes.
Nebraska had a bye for the second rotation, and had a running team score of 49.375 through two rotations.
Through two events, LSU had a running score of 98.800 after scoring 49.450 on vault. North Carolina State scored 97.725, adding a 48.800 on beam. George Washington scored a 48.625 on bars, while Maryland had a bye for the second rotation and had a running score of 48.900.
The Big Red moved to floor and posted a respectable 49.400, with all gymnasts scoring over 9.80 in the event. This is just the second meet since 2004 when Nebraska scored 49.375 or better in both beam and floor. Epperson started the Huskers with a season-high-tying 9.875, and was followed by Roby, who scored a 9.80. Junior Orel put together a 9.85 along with senior teammate Williams. Crouse wowed with a 9.925 before Schweihofer anchored the event with a 9.90.
Through three rotations, LSU led with a 98.800 after a bye, with Nebraska close behind with a 98.775. Oregon State stayed in the mix in third place with a 98.325 after scoring a 49.100 on vault. Maryland put together a 97.975 after scoring a 49.075 on bars, while NC State scored a 97.725 after a bye and George Washington had a 97.400, scoring a 48.775 on beam.
Nebraska continued to roll, scoring over 49.375 in every event for the first time this season. The Huskers put together a team score of 49.375 on vault, en-route to their season high final team score 197.525. Freshman Karley Hutchinson tied her season-high 9.775 in just her fifth appearance in the vault lineup for the Huskers. Fellow freshman Roby scored a 9.80 before Epperson moved things along with a 9.85. Schweihofer contributed a 9.85 of her own before vault-specialists Crouse and Houchin raised the bar, each scoring over 9.90. Crouse totaled a 9.925 while Houchin added a 9.95, her third vault over 9.90 this season in seven appearances.
Nebraska sat in second place heading into a bye with a rolling score of 148.150, behind LSU’s 148.175. The Tigers scored a 49.375 on bars to stay 0.025 ahead of Nebraska. Maryland put together a 146.925 after scoring a 48.950 on beam. In fourth, North Carolina State scored a 146.875, after scoring a 49.150 on floor. Oregon State had 98.325 after a bye while George Washington had a 97.400 after a bye.
Nebraska had a bye for the fifth rotation, before moving to bars for the final rotation.
LSU exploded on beam for a 49.500 for a final score of 197.675. North Carolina State scored a 49.175 on vault to finish with a 196.050. The Huskers took a 148.150 into the final rotation, while Oregon State scored 49.150 on bars to score 147.475. Maryland took their 146.925 into the final rotation and George Washington rounded out the field with a 146.300 after scoring 48.900 on floor.
Nebraska finished their best meet in five years by battling adversity and overcoming a fall on bars, from lead-off Breen. Breen competed in just her second bars meet of the season, scoring a season-high 9.20. Roby posted a 9.875, and Schweihofer chipped in a 9.825. Epperson added a 9.80, before Houchin exploded with a 9.975 on bars, earning a perfect 10 from two judges, a career-high for the sophomore to win the regional title in the event. Crouse anchored for the Huskers and scored her own 9.90 to help the Huskers earn their bid to Nationals.
The Huskers finished second on the day, just .150 behind regional leader LSU, who claimed a 197.625.
Nebraska will travel to St. Louis, Mo., on April 20thfor the NCAA Semifinals. Two semifinal sessions will occur on April 20 and the top three teams from each session will qualify to NCAA Super Six Finals on April 21. Rotation order and semifinal session teams will be announced later, when all regional competition has concluded.
T1. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.95
T1. Myia Hambrick, LSU, 9.95
T1. Taylor Houchin, Nebraska, 9.95
4. Sienna Crouse, Nebraska, 9.925
T5. Julianna Cannamela, LSU, 9.90
T5. Jillian Winstanley, George Washington, 9.90
1. Taylor Houchin, Nebraska, 9.975
2. Lexie Priessman, LSU, 9.95
3. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.925
4. Sienna Crouse, Nebraska, 9.90
5. Kynsee Roby, Nebraska, 9.875
T6. Myia Hambrick, LSU, 9.85
T6. Halli Briscoe, Oregon State, 9.85
T6. Shireen Khamedoost, Oregon State, 9.85
T6. McKenna Singley, Oregon State, 9.85
T6. Morgan Lane, North Carolina, 9.85
1. Myia Hambrick, LSU, 9.925
T2. Christina Desiderio, LSU, 9.90
T2. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 9.90
T2. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.90
T2. Danielle Breen, Nebraska, 9.90
T2. Grace Williams, Nebraska, 9.90
1. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 9.950
2. Sienna Crouse, Nebraska, 9.925
T3. Myia Hambrick, LSU, 9.90
T3. Megan Schweihofer, Nebraska, 9.90
T3. Kaitlyn Yanish, Oregon State, 9.90
T6. Abbie Epperson, Nebraska, 9.875
T6. Khazia Hislop, North Carolina, 9.875
T1. Sarah Finnegan, LSU, 39.625
T1. Myia Hambrick, LSU, 39.625
3. Kennedi Edney, LSU, 39.525
4. Megan Schweihofer, Nebraska, 39.425
5. Abbie Epperson, Nebraska, 39.350
T6. Kynsee Roby, Nebraska, 39.325
T6. Morgan Lane, North Carolina, 39.325