With the end of the spring semester fast approaching, our student-athletes are competing hard and finishing strong. The Nebraska bowling team captured the NCAA title and the women’s tennis team won a Big Ten regular-season championship. In addition, one of our bowlers earned an individual national title and five men’s and women’s gymnasts earned nine individual All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. What a finish!
Head Coach Bill Straub’s bowling roster carried just one senior yet despite the relative youth of the team, Coach Straub and Assistant Coach Paul Klempa led the Huskers to their fourth NCAA title with a win over Vanderbilt. It marked Nebraska’s 25th team national championship across all sports.
A Nebraska native from Bellevue, Kristi Mickelson was the lone senior bowler and served as a true leader all season. Kristi was a key figure in the run to the NCAA championship and then went on to earn a near-perfect score of 289 in her final match of the Individual Singles Championship. To put the 289 in perspective, that equates to 10 strikes in 10 frames with one spare! On her first day of the tournament, Kristi bowled 14 games, and in game #11, she rolled her first-ever perfect 300 game. Kristi will achieve another impressive honor next week when she graduates with a double major in Criminology/Criminal Justice and Psychology.
My wife Kristin and I had the great pleasure of spending this past Sunday evening entertaining the bowling student-athletes, coaches and staff at a celebratory dinner. They are a tremendous group of young ladies, who represent Nebraska with honor, distinction and integrity.
Our women’s tennis team, led by Head Coach Scott Jacobson and Assistant Coach Hayden Perez, won a share of our first-ever Big Ten regular-season title. The Huskers dominated doubles play to defeat Wisconsin 4-0 and tie Michigan for the Big Ten crown with a 10-1 conference mark. It was a great pleasure for me to present them with the regular-season trophy this past Sunday. Senior Mary Weatherholt, our Female Student-Athlete of the Year and co-winner of the 2013 Heart and Soul Award, finished the season perfect in Big Ten play. The native of Prairie Village, Kansas, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in May 2012. She is one of four outstanding seniors leading the Huskers. German student-athletes Janine Weinreich (Marketing and International Business) and Stefanie Weinstein (Business Administration) are both expected to graduate next week, while Slovakian Patricia Veresova (Business Administration) is on track to graduate in December 2013. These four tremendous senior leaders came to Nebraska from three different countries yet have united a team of eight players into a championship squad. We know they will all represent Nebraska well at the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
On April 14th at the Student-Athlete Academic Recognition Banquet we celebrated and honored 255 student-athletes who received medallions for grade-point averages of 3.0 or above. We also honored individual student-athletes across all sports with Hero Leadership Awards for their service to the community at our breakfast on April 15th. This week, our student-athletes are diligently studying during finals week, and many of them are preparing for graduation on May 4th. For the first time in UNL history, the graduation ceremony will take place in Memorial Stadium and I am looking forward to this special day.
I’m very proud of our students for their commitment to the classroom and to our coaches and staff for supporting their efforts. Our core values–Integrity, Trust, Respect, Teamwork and Loyalty–guide us on and off the field. We have high standards and expectations at Nebraska, and our values and our people build the foundation for our excellence.
Straub, Mickelson to Appear on Upcoming Radio Show
Before Coach Straub became our varsity coach in 1996, he championed UNL’s club teams for many years and won more honors than any other professional bowler in the state of Nebraska. In addition to our four NCAA championship teams, Coach Straub led the Huskers to three national championships in 1997, 1999 and 2001 and also led two UNL women’s club teams and two UNL men’s club teams to national titles for a total of 11 championships in all.
Coach Straub is the first one to point out that championship seasons don’t happen without the help of a great support staff, and he relies heavily on his loyal assistant coach, Paul Klempa. Coach Straub also gets lots of help from his wife, Kim, a former Husker bowler herself, and from many other department support staffers, including longtime sport administrator Bob Burton.
Senior Kristi Mickelson and juniors Amanda Burau and Yan Ling helped the team bond and trust one another which helped lead the team to success. The younger bowlers, including sophomores Elise Bolton, Liz Kuhlkin and Andrea Ruiz, and freshman Bethany Hedley earned the respect of their teammates and of the nation as they proved they could handle the pressure of the national spotlight.
After winning the NCAA team championship, Kristi Mickelson said: “All year I have been dreading the end. I am not ready to leave. Nebraska is my home.”
In reality, Kristi’s words probably mean the opposite. She and the rest of our graduating student-athletes appear ready for just about any challenge that may come their way.
Until next time, stay positive and Go Huskers!
Even if you watched the Huskers win the 2013 NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship live on national TV, you’ll want to check out HuskerVision’s Nebraska N’side feature showcasing the exciting national title run.
The Nebraska women’s tennis team made history last weekend. The Huskers beat Wisconsin on Senior Day to share the 2013 Big Ten Championship with Michigan. Congratulations to Head Coach Scott Jacobson and Associate Head Coach Hayden Perez and the entire Husker team for winning Nebraska’s first regular-season conference tennis title in 35 years.
Bowling Ball Agreement Assists with Costs
Nebraska is fortunate to be one of a handful of collegiate bowling teams with a trade-out agreement for its bowling balls. NCAA rules allow for seven bowlers to compete at the NCAA championship in five spots. Each of the seven bowlers can bring and use five balls apiece. At an average cost of $200 per ball, that’s $1,000 per player, now offset by our endorsement deal. Coach Straub was key in securing the endorsement and has been involved with design details for the bowling balls and in the development of the team’s East Campus practice facility.
Congratulations to five Husker gymnasts for earning nine All-America honors at last week’s NCAA Championships. At the women’s championships at UCLA, Emily Wong, a junior from Grand Forks, N.D., finished third in both the all-around and floor exercise finals to gain first-team All-America honors in both events, plus another first-team designation on vault. Emily was just .075 of a point away from winning the all-around title, and earned second-team All-America recognition on beam. Teammate Jessie DeZiel was a second-team All-American in the all-around and on beam. At the men’s championships in State College, Pennsylvania, freshman Sam Chamberlain and sophomore Grant Perdue became first-team All-Americans, as Sam placed third on the parallel bars and Grant placed fourth on the vault. Junior Wyatt Aycock was a second-team All-American, finishing eighth in the all-around. Since all five All-Americans return for the 2013-14 season, the future looks bright for both teams.
Please plan to join me and fellow Big Red fans Saturday, April 27 at the World's Largest Softball Tailgate at Bowlin Stadium from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Coach Rhonda Revelle and her team are hoping to break our own attendance record of 1,752 fans who showed up for last year’s Tailgate. The team is counting on your vocal support at the 1 p.m. game against No. 9 Michigan. Everything is free, including the game, hot dogs, chips and Pepsi products while supplies last. Jack Hoffman plans to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and families can participate in many of the family-friendly activities, including inflatables and face painting. At the Tailgate event, student-athletes from bowling, football, volleyball, women’s and men’s basketball, rifle and soccer will all be on hand to sign autographs. I hope to see you there.
Potuto, Straub, Williams: Key Contributors on National Level
Jamie Williams, our associate athletic director for Diversity and Leadership Initiatives, Coach Bill Straub and our Faculty Athletics Representative Jo Potuto play key roles on three important NCAA Division I Committees. Jamie is one of 15 members of the Committee on Academic Performance which oversees the Academic Progress Rate, Graduation Success Rate and Academic Appeals within the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program. Coach Straub serves on the NCAA Bowling Committee and has been a great advocate for his sport. Jo previously served on the NCAA Committee on Infractions for the maximum allowable years and is currently one of two Faculty Athletics Representatives serving on the NCAA-wide Student-Athlete Affairs Group Advisory Committee. We are fortunate to have these representatives of Nebraska playing vital roles on the national level.