Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

2019 Women's Gymnastics Season Review

By NU Athletic Communications

The University of Nebraska women's gymnastics team concluded 2019 competition by sending two of the most dominant competitors in the sports to the NCAA National Championships. Senior Sienna Crouse and junior Taylor Houchin competed in the all-around and on vault, respectively. Crouse finished her night with a  39.3875 in the all-around. She began the night on floor exercise, putting up an impressive 9.875 before moving onto vault in the next rotation scoring a 9.7875. In the third rotation she finished with a 9.875, finishing on balance beam with a 9.85. Houchin competed in the fourth rotation and finished her season with a 9.7125.

The team finished competition at the NCAA Ann Arbor Super Regionals, finishing fourth with a team score of 196.650 falling to No. 2 UCLA, No. 7 Michigan and No. 10 Alabama. 

The Huskers finished third in the Big Ten regular season standings finishing 6-3 in conference competition. NU also finished third in the Big Ten Championships falling to Michigan and Illinois with a team score of 196.550.

The season was full of highs for the Huskers, beginning with the hiring of new Head Coach Heather Brink on Feb. 1 after taking over as interim before the season began. During her time as head coach, Brink and assistant coach Mike Heredia coached 12 different Huskers who set or tied career highs this season, including 45 career highs that were broken. Five different gymnasts earned weekly Big Ten Gymnasts of the Week honors throughout the season. Crouse and Houchin earned themselves gymnasts of the week, senior Megan Schweihofer and junior Sierra Hassel took home event specialists of the week honors and Adnerys De Jesus was named freshman of the week. 

At the 29th Annual Masters Classic on March 16, Nebraska set their highest team score since 2013 with a score of 197.625, tying the sixth highest team score of all time in Nebraska's history. Three team scores were set throughout the season that broke into the top 10 scores in Nebraska's history. On uneven bars, the Huskers set the mark of 49.600 which ties the third highest bars score in Nebraska history, on balance beam Nebraska set a score of 49.500 which is the sixth highest balance beam score in Nebraska's history and on floor exercise a 49.500 as well ties the tenth highest floor exercise score. 

Individually, the 2019 team made names for themselves in the record books as well, Crouse tied the third highest uneven bars score in NU's history with a 9.975, as well as tied the eighth highest all-around score after her 39.700 performance at the Masters Classic. Houchin tied the second highest uneven bars score in post-season play with a 9.95 at the Big Ten Championships. Lastly, Hassel tied the second highest balance beam score in Huskers' history with a 9.975 set at the Masters Classic as well. 

Outside the gym, the Huskers continued to shine, as nine Huskers were named Academic All-Big Ten, 14 gymnasts were named to the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete honor Roll for the fall semester and finally, all 16 Huskers were recognized for their work within the Lincoln community and were named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team.

Last Time Out
The Huskers sent two individual competitors to the NCAA National Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Senior Sienna Crouse and junior Taylor Houchin competed in the all-around and on vault, respectively. Crouse finished her night with a  39.3875 in the all-around. She began the night on floor exercise, putting up an impressive 9.875 before moving onto vault in the next rotation scoring a 9.7875. In the thir d rotation she finished with a 9.875, finsihing on balance beam with a 9.85. Houchin competed in the fourth rotation and stuck for a 9.7125. 
CROUSE EARNS ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Senior Sienna Crouse was named a second team All-American on balance beam and in the all-around, adding to her second team honors she earned last season on vault. 
CROUSE AND HOUCHIN NAMED TO BIG TEN All-CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Senior Sienna Crouse and Taylor Houchin continue their impressive year as they add another accolade to their resume, being named to the Big Ten All-Championship team. 
HOUCHIN NAMED NACGC/W REGULAR SEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Taylor Houchin was named a NACGC/W Regular Season All-American announced by the NACGC/W on Wednesday, March 27. Houchin earned secon team honors for her tremendous efforts on uneven bars.
Crouse, Hassel Earn Weekly Big Ten Honors
Senior Sienna Crouse and junior Sierra Hassel both earned Big Ten gymnastics weekly honors on March 19, announced by the conference. Crouse was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week after the meet of her life in the 29th Annual Masters Class this past weekend where she posted a career high in the all-around with a score of 39.700, tying the eighth highest all-around score in Nebraska history. On vault, she hit with a score of 9.85, she set a career high on uneven bars with a score of 9.975, on balance beam she finished with a score of 9.925 and tied a career high on floor exercise with a score of 9.95. This is the second Gymnast of the Week honor for Crouse. The last Nebraska Gymnast of the Week was junior Taylor Houchin the week of Jan. 22. 
Hassel was named event specialist of the week for her career high performance on balance beam where the junior from Johnston, Iowa recorded the second 9.975 of the night for the Huskers, including a 10.0 from one judge. This is the first event specialist of the week honor for Hassel. The last Nebraska Event Specialist of the Week was senior Megan Schweihofer the week of Jan. 22. 
De Jesus Nabs Co-Freshman of the Week Honors
Freshman Adnerys De Jesus has earned Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Feb. 5 announced by the conference.
The freshman from Greenwich, Conn. is having a phenomenal season for the Huskers, especially on vault where she has set career highs in back to back weeks. Against Illinois, she had the best meet of her young career setting career highs in all three events she competed in; on vault, 9.90, as well as taking home her first career event title, on bars, 9.875 and on floor, 9.825. She would break that career high on vault against Michigan where she posted a score of 9.925 and was also feature on SportsCenters’ Top 10 Plays of the day for her vault, as well as finishing with scores of 9.70 on bars and 9.825 on floor, tying her career high.
She will share this honor with Colby Miller from Ohio State. Lexy Ramler of Minnesota earns Gymnast of the Week honors and Gabirella Douglas from Michigan State earns Event Specialist of the Week honors. The last Nebraska Freshman of the Week was Kynsee Roby the week of Jan. 16 last season.
Houchin, Schweihofer Earn Big Ten Weekly Honors
Senior Megan Schweihofer and junior Taylor Houchin have earned Big Ten Gymnasts of the Week honors on Jan. 22 announced by the conference. 
Houchin was named Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week after her stellar performance against Rutgers where she finished with a season-high 39.450 in the all-around. She also took home three event titles on vault, 9.80, uneven bars, 9.90 and in the all-around. This was the third straight meet where Houchin posted a score of 9.90 or higher on uneven bars as well as her third straight event title on bars. She also finished second on balance beam wtih a score of 9.85 and third on floor exercise with a score of 9.90. This is the first Gymnast of the Week honor for Houchin since the week of Feb. 27 in 2017. The last Nebraska Gymnast of the Week was Senior Sienna Crouse the week of Feb. 19, 2018. 
Schweihofer was named Event Specialist of the Week after her amazing performance on balance beam against Rutgers where she posted a score of 9.90, a season-high as well. She would go on to win the event title on balance beam, the fifth balance beam event title of her career and her first since Michigan last season where she finished with a score of 9.90 as well. This is Scwheihofer’s first Event Specialist of the Week honor. The last Nebraska Event Specialist of the Week was Houchin the week of March 6, 2018.
Houchin will share Co-Gymnast of the Week honors with Lexy Ramler of Minnesota and Natalie Wojcik of Michigan earns her third straight Freshman of the Week honors. 
FOUR HUSKERS NAMED TO ALL-BIG TEN TEAMS
Four Huskers were named to first and second All-Big Ten teams announced by the conference Monday, March 18. Senior Sienna Crouse and juniors Taylor Houchin and Sierra Hassel were named first team All-Big Ten, while freshman Adnerys De Jesus was named second team All-Big Ten for the 2019 season. 
NINE HUSKERS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN
Nine Huskers were named to the academic All-Big Ten list announced by the conference March 20. Seniors Kelli Chung, Sienna Crouse, Catelyn Orel and Megan Schweihofer, juniors Taylor Houchin and Sierra Hassel, sophomores Kynsee Roby, Anika Dujakovich and Rachel Thompson.
NEBRASKA FANS ELEVATE ATTENDANCE NUMBERS
Last season, Nebraska fans set attendance records, one for a single match set on Jan. 20 against Rutgers where 4,443 fans turned out to see both the women’s and men’s team compete against Rutgers in a double-dual, as well as a season high record of 13,066. This season, fans shattered that record. The new single meet record was set on Jan. 12 when the Huskers took on Washington for the Tumble N’ Rumble event where the gymnastics team competed while the Nebraska wrestling team also competed at the same time. This season total set the new benchmark for attendance with 14,977 fans. 
BRINK NAMED HEAD WOMEN''S GYMNASTICS COACH
Heather Brink, a Nebraska graduate, national championship gymnast and Lincoln native, has been named the permanent head coach of the Husker women’s gymnastics program on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Brink has served as the Interim Head Coach for the Huskers since mid-October and has led the Husker women to a strong start to the 2019 season. She is just the fifth head coach in the history of the Nebraska women’s gymnastics program. Her selection as head coach continues a long association with Nebraska gymnastics for the Lincoln native. Brink is in her eighth season overall on the Nebraska coaching staff, after serving as an assistant coach for the 2012 through 2015 seasons, and holding the position of associate head coach from 2016 to 2018. With Brink as an assistant coach the past seven seasons, Nebraska finished either first or second in the Big Ten five times and reached the NCAA Super Six finals in 2014 and 2018. During Brink’s time on staff, 11 Nebraska gymnasts have earned a combined 41 All-America awards, including Taylor Houchin and Grace Williams in 2018. Brink was an 11-time All-America gymnast at Nebraska from 1997 to 2000. Brink permanently etched her name in the Nebraska record books by winning two national titles at the 2000 NCAA Championships. Brink was the first Husker woman gymnast to win an NCAA all-around national title and the second to win a vault national title, leading the Huskers to a fourth-place national finish in 2000. She also finished her career with six regional titles and eight conference crowns. Brink was selected as the 2000 Honda Award winner, representing the nation’s top female collegiate gymnast. She became the first Husker gymnast to score a 10.0, and recorded three perfect scores during her senior season. Brink was inducted into the University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. She is In her time as an assistant coach, Brink annually helped develop one of the nation’s most talented beam squads. She has played an important role in recruiting, program development and team building with the Huskers in her eight-year tenure.
HUSKERS PICKED SECOND IN BIG TEN
Coaches around the conference have picked Nebraska second in the Big Ten for the sixth 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. The Huskers came in second last season in the Big Ten Championships to Michigan, who is on top of this year’s preseason poll. Illinois comes in third, while Ohio State and Minnesota round out the top five.
STRONG SCHEDULE IN 2019
NU will face 10 teams ranked in the national preseason coaches’ poll top 25 in 2019, including a trip to defending National Champion UCLA and meets with No. 9 Michigan, No. 10 Kentucky, No. 13 Denver, No. 15 Washington, No. 16 Boise State, No. 18 Ohio State, No. 20 Arizona State, No. 22 Illinois and No. 23 Minnesota. 
CROUSE, HOUCHIN NAMED GYMNASTS TO WATCH
Senior Sienna Crouse was selected as one of the 2019 Gymnasts to watch by the Big Ten conference for the second straight year. Sienna Crouse earned first team honors on floor, and second team All-America honors on vault, adding to her first team All-America honors on vault in 2017 and was also first team All-Big Ten, First Team Big Ten All-Championships and Academic All-Big Ten last season. Junior Taylor Houchin also joins Crouse as a 2019 Gymnast to watch. Houchin earned first team All-American status on vault, and second-team honors on balance beam, last season, the first of her career. She was also named Big Ten vault co-champion, Second Team All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten.
HUSKERS HOPE TO CONTINUE THEIR EMPIRE
The Nebraska women’s gymnastics team finished sixth in the Super Six and returns 11 letter winners and three All-Americans from last season. The Husker squad selects a team motto each year, and in 2019 the gymnasts are Building Our Empire.
STRONG SENIOR CLASS LEADS HUSKERS
Nebraska returns two strong seniors for the 2019 season in Sienna Crouse and Megan Schweihofer. A native of Fargo, N.D., Crouse returns as an All-American and one of the Huskers most consistent competitors primarily on vault and floor. Last season she posted the highest vault score by any individual competitor with a 9.9625 during Super Six Finals. Schweihofer is also a returning All-American on floor and is one of the top competitors for Nebraska. Last season, she earned nine event titles. 
TOUTED TRIO OF ALL-AMERICANS TO HELP HUSKERS
Nebraska received a total of eight All-America honors in 2018. Graduated senior Grace Williams earned second team honors on balance beam and floor, the first of her career. Seniors Sienna Crouse and Megan Schweihofer earned first team honors on floor, and second team All-America honors on vault, and second team honors on floor and in the all-around respectively. Junior Taylor Houchin earned first team All-American status on vault, and second-team honors on balance beam, the first of her career. Nebraska’s eight All-American honors are the most since 2012, and the two first-team honors mark the first time since 2015 NU had multiple first-teamers.
HUSKERS WELCOME FORMER MPSF CHAMPION MIKE HEREDIA TO COACHING STAFF
Mike Heredia joined the Nebraska coaching staff in July of 2018. Heredia was a student-athlete at Nebraska in 2010, competing on floor exercise and vault. He was a letter winner with the Cornhuskers before transferring to Oklahoma where he became an All-American on vault in 2012. As a Sooner he was also a 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion and was part of a team that posted back-to-back NCAA runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2012.
While in college, Heredia was a JO Levels 4-10 coach at various gyms including Gym Nevada and Bart Conner for nine season. After graduating, Heredia, joined the Iowa men’s gymnastics team asan assistant coach in 2013. In his one year there, he coached two All-Americans on rings as well as a Big Ten champion on rings. The Hawkeyes also had an All-American in the all-around. At the NCAA Championships, the Hawkeyes finished fifth - their highest finish since 2006.
In 2013, Heredia would go on to build Fuzion Gymnastics from the ground up with his wife Jackie where he was co-owner and co-head coach for six years. During that time, Heredia would coach a 2016 JO national Floor Champion, as well as  two level 10 teams to state championships in girls and boys competition in 2018. 
During his time with Fuzion Gymnastics, Heredia would graduate 14 athlets who would go on to compete in collegiate gymnastics at various schools including current sophomore, Anika Dujakovich. 
Heredia and his wife Jackie have three girls; Norah, Rhyan and Graham and he will serve as bars, vault and floor coach for the Huskers.
HUSKERS INTRODUCE PAIR OF 2019 SIGNEES
Interim Head Coach Heather Brink announced the signing of two future Nebraska gymnasts to the 2019 women’s gymnastics signing class. Kylie Piringer (Erya Ramsey, N.J.) and Kathryn Thaler (Katy, Texas) have signed their letters of intent and will join the roster for Nebraska women’s gymnastics’ 2020 season.
CORNHUSKERS GROW ACROSS UNITED STATES
Nebraska features just one gymnast from Nebraska in sophomore Rachel Thompson on the 16-gymnast squad. The other 15 Huskers reign from 11 other states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, and New Jersey.
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 for both teams. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 28, 2018 with the project projected to be completed in January of 2020.

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