The No. 10 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team will open their 2014 season this weekend against Northern Illinois. The Huskers will face the Huskies in Lincoln, Neb. at 6 p.m. CST in the Bob Devaney Center for the first ever Tumble and Rumble combined meet with wrestling. Fans unable to attend will be able to view the meet on Huskers.com video streaming which includes the men’s wrestling meet. Fans may also view live stats on Huskers.com or receive updates on Twitter by following @HuskersWGym.
Nebraska leads the all-time series against Northern Illinois 1-0. The last time the two teams met was in 2006, when Nebraska defeated the Huskies 195.25-191.325. Following their opening weekend, the Huskers will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for their first road competition of the year to compete in the Ozone Collegiate Classic against No. 2 ranked Alabama and No. 21 Kentucky next Saturday at 8 p.m. CT.
Scouting Northern Illinois
· Northern Illinois will open their 2014 season this weekend against Nebraska
· The Huskies ended their 2013 season with a 7-11 record, finishing fourth overall at the Mid-American Conference Championships
· On the road last season the Huskies were 0-6 against competition
· The Huskies are led by senior Kim Gotlund who was a 2013 first-team All Mid-Atlantic Conference and nominated for MAC gymnast of the year
Nebraska’s Notation Order vs. Northern Illinois
Rotation Nebraska Northern Illinois
1. Vault Uneven Bars
2. Uneven Bars Vault
3. Balance Beam Floor Exercise
4. Floor Exercise Balance Beam
Defending Conference Champions Look For Continued Success
After winning its second consecutive Big Ten conference title, Nebraska returns to the gym with even higher expectations for the 2014 season. NU will welcome back seven letter winners from last season, including three All-Americans, as well as two Huskers returning from injuries last season, while adding two newcomers to the roster. The Huskers will have a stockpile of talent to once again rank among the nation’s elite collegiate programs. Led by head coach Dan Kendig in his 21st season at Nebraska, who sees the potential for continued success with the 2014 squad.
“I do think at the end of the day we will have a better team than we had last year,” Kendig said. “We definitely have the potential to have that happen. The girls are training incredibly hard and their focus is tremendous. This could be an exciting season for us.”
Three All-Americans Prepared to Lead Huskers In 2014
Nebraska will be led by three returning All-Americans, including two honorees that captured six awards last season. Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong headline the group that has won 14 awards since 2011 and also includes senior Jamie Schleppenbach.
In the all-around competition the Huskers will welcome back two first-team selections in DeZiel and Wong, who both competed in the 2013 NCAA Championships where they picked up All-American accolades. Tying for third overall in the all-around Wong claimed a first-team selection as teammate DeZiel placed 12 overall taking home second-team honors.
Nebraska will look for more success from its vaulting lineup as it holds one of the top three team scores in the country (49.725). This vaulting corps fields all three previous All-Americans in Wong, who picked up first-team honors last season, Schleppenbach a first team selection in 2011 and DeZiel, a second-team selection in 2012.
Preseason Polling: Huskers No.10 Nationally, Second in Big Ten
The Huskers received a ranking of No. 10 nationally in the GymInfo 2014 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, announced in early December. NU was awarded the ranking after finishing third at the NCAA Morgantown Regional and first in the Big Ten conference last season.
Five of the top six teams in the preseason poll are returning Super Six Finalists in 2014. Florida was tabbed at No. 1 after taking home the national title last season. Alabama captured the No. 2 spot in the poll, followed by No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 UCLA. LSU coming in ranked No. 5 rounds out the top five teams in the nation.
In addition to their 10th place national ranking, the Huskers were picked No. 2 in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll released by the conference in December. The two-time defending Big Ten champion Huskers were picked to finish second by the conference coaches coming in after Michigan who was picked first. Minnesota captured the No. 3 spot, while Penn State comes in at No. 4 and Ohio State rounds out the top five teams.
DeZiel, Wong Named Gymnasts to Watch
In addition to Nebraska’s No. 2 preseason conference ranking, Huskers Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong were named to the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch for the 2014 season.
Senior Emily Wong will return to the 2014 season as one of Nebraska’s most decorated gymnasts. Wong captured 24 titles last season including the all-around crown at the Big Ten Championships for the second consecutive year, posting her career-high in the all-around (39.725). In just two seasons, she now owns seven Big Ten titles and eight championship team honors. Wong ended her junior campaign at the NCAA Championships where she tied for third in the all-around. Her outstanding performance at the National Championships included first-team All-America accolades on vault, floor, all-around and second-team laurels on beam.
A junior from Rogers, Minn., DeZiel will be one of Nebraska’s top threats in the gym this season. This five-time All-American reinforced her claim as one of the nation’s top all-arounders last season, notching a 12th-place finish overall at the 2013 NCAA Championships to become a second-team All-American. DeZiel was the Big Ten Runner-Up in the all-around (39.625) at the Championship meet tying for second place on floor (9.95) and first on vault (9.95).
Kendig Builds One of Nation’s Top Programs
Now in his 21st year at the helm of the Nebraska gymnastics program, Head Coach Dan Kendig is the all-time winningest coach in Nebraska history. Since Kendig arrived at NU, his teams have compiled an outstanding 459-175-4 (.719) record, including a 303-62-2 regular season record. His most recent honor was in 2012 when he earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Huskers to the program’s 22nd conference title.
Kendig has also led the Huskers to 15 NCAA Championship appearances in the past 18 seasons, including Super Six Finals appearances in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011. Kendig was honored as the NCAA Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2003, a year in which the Huskers finished fourth nationally. He guided the 2013 squad to another Big Ten conference title increasing Nebraska’s mark to 23 conference championships. The Huskers earned six All-America awards at the 2013 NCAA Championships and compiled a 19-5 overall record. Nebraska qualified for NCAA postseason competition for the 29th time in program history, finishing third at the NCAA Morgantown Regional. The 2013 squad posted three of the highest team scores in school history throughout the year while spending consistent time ranked as one of the nation’s top-10 teams.
NU Assistants Set to Lead Huskers in 2014
Joining Kendig in his leadership of the Huskers this season will be third-year assistant coaches Heather Brink and Dan Miller. Brink will continue her role in the gym as the team’s beam coach while assisting with floor choreography. Brink contributed to Nebraska’s continued success in 2013, as the Huskers claimed 13 beam titles including the Big Ten Championship title shared by Emily Wong and Jennifer Lauer with an identical score of 9.90. Wong went on to claim second-team All-American accolades on the event.
Miller will continue to lead NU’s efforts on vault and floor in 2014. He helped Nebraska’s vault and floor lineups continue to dominate in 2013. At the Big Ten Championships the Huskers posted four individual vault scores of 9.95 and a team-high score of 49.725, which helped secure the Huskers the Big Ten Conference title. Miller guided Britanny Skinner to her individual vault appearance at the NCAA Championships and Emily Wong and Jessie DeZiel to earn All-America honors.
Volunteer assistant coach Alina Weinstein in her first season will aid NU’s full-time staff in 2014. Weinstein will assist Brink on balance beam, as well as the Huskers strength and conditioning programs.
Husker Seniors Look to Shine in Final Season
With a young but deep roster this season, the Huskers will count on the leadership and experience of two seniors to anchor their efforts. Emily Wong and Jamie Schleppenbach will look to shine in the gym, classroom and in the community in their final seasons at Nebraska.
Leading the way for the Huskers is Emily Wong, who finished third in the all-around at the NCAA Championships last season. A five-time first-team All-American will contend for a national all-around title. In her impressive junior campaign, Wong collected 24 titles including the Big Ten all-around crown for the second consecutive year. Wong, posted her career-best all-around score 39.725 at the Big Ten Championships and added a career best on floor (9.975). A leader in the classroom, Wong claimed second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, NACGC/W Scholastic All-America honors and Academic All-Big Ten accolades.
Schleppenbach coming off a season ending injury last season will aim to end her career at Nebraska on a high note this season. Prior to her injury last season she captured two vault titles in only four showings on the event. This first-team All-American on vault in 2011, Schleppenbach will re-enter NU’s lineup as an all-around contender.
Juniors Ready to Provide Spark
Nebraska’s junior class returns a mixture of experience and talent looking to make an impact in the Huskers lineup. The juniors are led by Jessie DeZiel, one of the biggest difference-makers on the 2012 and 2013 squads. In 2012, she was named Big Ten Freshmen of the Year after taking home the all-around crown at the NCAA Salt Lake Regional. DeZiel captured second-team All-America accolades in the all-around and on beam. As one of the most talented gymnasts Nebraska has had in recent years, she will be relied upon for her strong skills and performances in 2014.
Sioux City, Iowa native Jennifer Lauer proved her mettle as a top beam worker for the Huskers claiming a team-best five titles on the event including a share in the Big Ten title with Wong. Lauer appeared in the national rankings on beam several times throughout the 2013 season and ended the year at 22nd nationally.
Desire’ Stephens competed in two events last season for the Huskers, providing depth on vault, and floor. Stephens helped the Huskers earn their highest vaulting team score in Nebraska history (49.725) at the Big Ten Championships. She will work to add to the Huskers’ powerful vaulting lineup this season.
Nebraska will also return Amanda Lauer, a two-time NACGC/W Scholastic All-American. Lauer will contribute solid depth for the Huskers beam and bars lineup this season.
Sophomores Prepared to Step-Up
Hollie Blanske and Madison McConkey have provided consistency, depth and talent for the Huskers last season and look to step-up into important roles this season. Letterwinner Hollie Blanske has the ability to make a statement on all events for the Huskers this season. Blanske was an important part of Nebraska’s Big Ten Championship-winning efforts, finishing in a tie for sixth on floor (9.90) and earning a share of the Big Ten Title on vault (9.95).
A walk-on from Lincoln, Neb., Madison McConkey took last season adjusting to the competition level of collegiate gymnastics. McConkey will look to break into the beam and bar lineups this season.
Newcomers Await Their Big Future
The Huskers will welcome back two redshirt freshmen coming back from injuries last season in Jordyn Beck and Ariel Martin as well as two talented newcomers. Jennie Laeng and Ashley Lambert are both level 10 gymnasts who will help fill important roles with the loss of three seniors last season. Laeng joins the Huskers from West Middlesex, Pa., where she was the all-around, vault and beam champion at the 2011 Junior Olympic National Invitational.
A five-time Junior Olympic National Qualifier, Lambert is a powerful gymnast from Newport News, Va., who looks to make an impact on vault and beam.