Photo by Andy Wenstrand/Nebraska Athletics

Nebraska Set For National Semifinals

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska Cornhuskers (25-8 Overall, 6-3 Big Ten) at National Semifinals 
Friday, April 20, 12 p.m. CT
St. Louis, Mo., Chaifetz Arena
Watch Live: ESPN2
Talent: Bart Connor, Kathy Johnson-Clarke, Laura Rutledge
NCAA National Championship Central

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska women's gymnastics is set to compete at the 2018 National Collegiate Gymnastics Championship National Semifinal I on Friday, April 20 at 12 p.m. CT in St. Louis, Mo., at Chaifetz Arena. The Huskers qualified for the semifinals after finishing second at the NCAA Raleigh Regional with their best score in five years, 197.525. 

NCAA Semifinals
Nebraska will compete in Semifinal I at the National Semifinals on Friday, April 20 at 12 p.m. CT. The Semifinal I will be aired on ESPN2, while Semifinal II at 6 p.m. will be aired on ESPNU. Individual apparatus channels, all-around channel and post-meet awards ceremony will all be available on the WatchESPN app. The top three teams from each semifinal will advance to Super Six on April 21 at 6 p.m.  Nebraska will be joined by LSU, Utah, Georgia, Arkansas and Alabama in Semifinal I. Washington, Oklahoma, Utah, California, Florida and Kentucky will compete in Semifinal II. The 12 teams will compete along with 18 individuals, 12 all-around qualifiers and six individual event qualifiers. Individual NCAA champions and All-Americans are determined at Friday's competition.

Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011, this is the first year that only one team from the conference has qualified for the National Semifinal. 

The Last Routine
Nebraska had their best outing of the year at the Raleigh Regional, putting up a 197.525 season-high team score, it's best score since the 2013 Big Ten Championships. Sophomore Taylor Houchin claimed the uneven bars individual title outright, putting up a 9.975, while claiming a share of the vault title with a 9.95. Houchin's feat is the first time a Husker individual has won two individual regional championships since Emily Wong accomplished the achievement. 

Sienna Crouse finished just outside the trio of victors on vault, finishing fourth with a 9.925 in the event. Crouse also finished fourth on bars with a 9.90, and second on floor with a 9.925. Freshman Kynsee Roby finished fifth on bars with a 9.875 and tied sixth in the all-around with a 39.425. On beam, the Huskers posted a season-high 49.375, behind two Huskers scoring 9.90 in the event, Danielle Breen and Grace Williams, who tied for second. On floor, Megan Schweihofer tied for third with 9.90, while Epperson tied for sixth with a 9.875. In the all-around, Schweihofer finished fourth with 39.425 while Epperson finished fifth with 39.350. 

This is the Huskers’ 28th time advancing to the 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 National Semifinals all years of their Husker careers. Epperson, who transferred from Maryland, did not compete at the National Semifinals her first two years with Maryland, but did in both of her years as a Husker. 

Houchin Claims Two Titles at Raleigh Regional 
Nebraska's best performances at the regional came from sophomore Taylor Houchin, who was the uneven bars Regional Champion and the Regional Co-Champion on vault. Houchin impressed, earning perfect 10s from two judges on uneven bars, and ultimately earning a career-high 9.975 to win the event. Houchin's 9.95 vault helped her share the title with two gymnasts from LSU. The last time Nebraska had a gymnast claim two regional titles was in 2014 when Emily Wong accomplished the feat. Emily Wong is was the gymnast to beat this year in Husker history, as Megan Schweihofer claimed the Big Ten All-Around title, the first gymnast to do so since Wong won the event in 2013. 

Kendig Earns 700th Career Win
Dan Kendig, in his 25th year at the helm of Nebraska gymnastics , amassed his 700th career win in 35 years of head coaching experience in this postseason run. Kendig has led the Huskers to a 25-8 overall record in 2018. Outside of the Big Ten, Nebraska has only fallen to opponents ranked in the top 25 nationally. 

Semifinal Rotations
In Semifinal I, Nebraska will begin the meet on bye before bars. The Huskers will proceed through Olympic order through six rotations, with another bye before floor, and end on vault. UCLA will begin on vault, Alabama will begin on bars, LSU will begin on beam, Arkansas will begin on bye before floor, and Georgia will begin on floor. 

In Semifinal II, Utah will begin on vault, Kentucky will begin on bye before bars, Florida will begin on bars and Oklahoma will begin on beam. California will begin on bye before floor and Washington will begin on floor. 

Scouting Semifinal I Field
UCLA Bruins
UCLA enters the semifinals with an overall RQS of 197.840 and ranked No. 3 nationally. The Bruins are led by head coach Valorie Kondos-Field and have an average score of 197.554 with a team season-high of 198.275. All-time against UCLA, the Bruins lead the series 25-9 with the most recent meeting coming in 2018 at the Masters Classic in Lincoln, Neb. where the Huskers fell to the Bruins 197.500 – 197.175. UCLA leads the all-time post season series 23-2 with the last meeting coming in 2016 where UCLA defeated the Huskers 196.70 – 195.775. The Bruins have recorded five perfect 10s this season, one on beam and two on floor and bars respectively. Redshirt senior Christine Peng-Peng Lee has earned two of those 10s, posting perfect scores in floor and beam. UCLA finished first in the NCAA Columbus regional with a score of 197.650. In that meet, the Bruins earned a 49.375 on floor with three Bruins scoring 9.90 or higher. UCLA swept four out of five individual championships, on each event, but did not have an all-arounder compete.

Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia enters the semifinals and with an overall RQS of 196.515. The Bulldogs are led by head coach Courtney Kupets Carter and have an average score of 196.335 and a high of 197.525. All-time against Georgia, the Bulldogs lead the series 33-6 with the most recent meeting at Elevate the Stage 2018 in Augusta, Ga., where the Huskers defeated Georgia 196.700 – 195.825. Georgia leads the all-time postseason series 24-4, at the last meeting, Nebraska defeated Georgia 197.2125 – 192.100. The Bulldogs have earned one perfect 10 this season on floor thanks to junior Sydney Snead. Georgia finished second in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional posting a score of 196.500, finishing behind regional champion Alabama. Georgia took home one individual championship with Sabrina Vega tying for first place on floor with a score of 9.90.

Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas enters the semifinal with an overall RQS of 196.820, after finishing second in the NCAA Columbus Regional with a score of 196.775. The Razorbacks are led by head coach Mark Cook, who won the SEC Coach of the Year. Arkansas has an average score of 196.454 and a team season-high of 197.300. All-time against Arkansas, Nebraska leads the series 6-2 with the last meeting coming in 2016 where the Huskers defeated the Razorbacks 196.55 – 195.50 in the NCAA Iowa City Regional. In the postseason match-up, the all-time series is tied 1-1. The Razorbacks have posted 16 scores of 9.90 or better across all four events. Senior Amanda Wellick won the Columbus Regional all-around individual championship with a score of 39.425.

Louisiana State Tigers
LSU enters the semifinals with an RQS of 197.890. The Tigers are led by head coach D-D Breaux, average 197.587 and have posted a season-high team score of 198.175. All-time against LSU, the Tigers lead the series 14-13-2. Nebraska last met LSU at the Raleigh Regional on April 7, where the Huskers fell to the Tigers 198.275 - 197.2125. Nebraska leads the all-time postseason series 10-9-1. The Tigers have recorded four perfect 10s this season, one each on bars and beam respectively, and two coming on floor. Sarah Finnegan, a junior from Lee's Summit, Mo. and the SEC Gymnast of the Year, has earned three of those four 10s, one each on bars, beam and floor. The Tigers have scored over 197 in every meet this season, and have scored 198 or better four times. Most recently, LSU won the NCAA Raleigh Regional with a score of 197.675. LSU swept four out of five individual championships with Finnegan taking home two of the four winning floor and all-around at the Raleigh Regional. The fifth title was picked up by Nebraska's Taylor Houchin, who won the bars title and shared the vault title with LSU's Myia Hambrick and Kennedi Edneym. 

Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama enters the semifinals with an RQS of 197.165.  The Crimson Tide are led by head coach Dana Duckworth and have an average of 196.835 and a high score of 197.525. Alabama qualified for the semifinals out of the Tuscaloose Regional, where they finished first with a score of 197.225. The Crimson Tide have posted 17 scores of 9.90 or better across all four events. All-time against Alabama, the Crimson Tide lead the series 33-7 with the most recent meeting coming in 2017. The Huskers falling 197.60 – 197.2125 to Alabama in the NCAA Semi-Finals. The Crimson Tide lead the all-time post season series 21-3. At the Tuscaloosa Regional, Alabama took home three of the five individual championships in vault, beam and all-around. Freshman Lexi Graber earned two of the three winning the vault and all-around.

Scouting Semifinal II Field
Utah Utes
Utah enters the semifinals with an RQS of 197.475. The Utes are led by co-head coaches Megan Marsden and Tom Farde, average 197.368 and have posted a high score of 198.150. Utah has posted two perfect 10s this season, one each on vault and floor. Junior Makenna Merrell-Giles has posted both of those perfect 10s. Utah hosted and won the Salt Lake City Regional with a season-high score of 197.475. The Utes swept four out of five individual championships with sophomore Mykayla Skinner claiming three of the four championships: all-around, beam and floor.

Washington Huskies
Washington enters the semifinals with an overall RQS of 196.960. Led by head coach Elise Ray, the Huskies have an average of 196.571 and a high of 197.400. Washington has posted 15 scores of 9.90 or better across all four events. The Huskies finished second at the University Park Regional with a score of 196.275. This will be the seventh trip to the national collegiate gymnastics championships for the Huskies, who finished eighth in 2017.

California Golden Bears
California enters the semifinals with a RQS of 196.890. California is led by head coach Justin Howell, pushing the Bears to an average of 196.150 and a high of 197.500. For Cal, four different gymnasts have posted scores over 9.90 on vault, bars and beam. California finished second at the Salt Lake City Regional behind Utah with a score of 196.725.

Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma enters the semifinals as the No. 1 team in the nation with an overall RQS of 198.120. The reigning national champions are led by head coach K.J. Kindler, the Sooners have an average score of 197.850 and a season high score of 198.375. Oklahoma has posted five perfect scores of 10 this season with sophomore Maggie Nichols earning three out of the five on vault, beam and floor. Oklahoma finished first at the Minneapolis Regional with a score of 198.000. The Sooners will advance to the National Championships for the 15th consecutive season and 18th time overall.

Florida Gators
Florida enters the semifinals with an overall RQS of 197.390. Led by head coach Jenny Rowland, the Gators have an average score of 197.170 and a high score of 198.150 on the season. Florida has posted three perfect scores with senior Alex McMurty earning two of the three on vault and beam. Florida finished first in the State College Regional with a score of 197.725. The Gators also swept the individual championships with McMurty taking home three of the five on bars, beam and all-around.

Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky enters the semifinalsfor the first time in program history, with an overall RQS of 196.800. The Wildcats are led by head coach Tim Garrison, who helped the Wildcats to an average score of 196.469 and a high score of 197.100 this season. The Wildcats have posted 12 scores of 9.90 or better in all four events this season. Kentucky finished second in the Minneapolis Regional to qualify for the national championships and posted a score of 197.050, behind Oklahoma.

Up Next 
Should the Huskers advance out of the National Semifinals, they will compete in NCAA Super Six action on Sdaturday, April 21 at 6 p.m. CT at Chaifetz Arena. 


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