2003 NCAA All-Around Champion
2003 NCAA Floor Exercise Champion
Five-time First-Team All-American (2003: AA, V, UB, BB, FX)
Four-time Second-Team All-American (2002: AA, V, UB, BB)
2005 NCAA Top Eight Award Winner
2005 CoSIDA Second-Team Academic All-American
2005 AAI American Award Winner
2005 Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year
2005 Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year
Two-time South Central Regional Gymnast of the Year (2003, 2005)
Eight-time Big 12 Champion
12-time All-Big 12 Honoree
2005 NCAA and Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarship Winner
Richelle Simpson holds a special place in Nebraska gymnastics history after her record-setting performances in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
As the only Husker gymnast to ever earn first-team All-America honors on all five events in the same year, Simpson garnered five first-team awards at the 2003 NCAA Championships, leading the Huskers to a fourth-place national finish at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Entering the week of the championships as the nation’s top-ranked all-arounder, she captured the NCAA all-around crown with a 39.675, edging out 2002 NCAA Champion Jamie Dantzscher of UCLA, who earned the top all-around performance in Session I of the NCAA Preliminaries with a 39.65.
At the NCAA Super Six Finals, Simpson went on to dominate the competition, producing the top individual performance of the night with scores of 9.925 or better on all four events for a total of 39.80. In the individual event finals, Simpson added an NCAA individual floor title (9.963) to her arsenal of accomplishments.
After being granted a medical hardship year in 2004 by the NCAA, Simpson returned with a vengeance in 2005, leading NU to a first-ever No. 1 national ranking after the Masters Classic. The Toronto, Ontario, native provided an unmatched spark in Nebraska’s run to the NCAA Super Six Finals, as the Huskers reclaimed the Big 12 Conference championship.
Simpson, the 2005 South Central Regional Co-Gymnast of the Year, holds records in four categories on Nebraska’s all-time charts.
Simpson also became NU’s first AAI American Award winner in 2005, an honor annually given to the nation’s top gymnast on the basis of athleticism, academic excellence and civic responsibility.
She capped her career by earning the first NCAA Top Eight Award in the history of Nebraska women’s gymnastics. Simpson became NU’s nation-leading 15th student-athlete across all sports to win the Top Eight Award, which is the highest honor given by the NCAA.
Simpson was also the Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year, Nebraska’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year and was awarded NCAA and Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarships at the conclusion of her final season in 2005.
Simpson is now based in Montreal and performs in the Cirque du Soleil traveling show Saltimbanco. She made her Cirque du Soleil debut in 2006 in the Las Vegas show Mystère with former Husker gymnast A.J. lamb, specializing in Chinese poles and the teeterboard.
2005 – Senior Season
Although she was unable to compete in the 2005 NCAA Championships, Simpson turned in a stellar senior campaign for NU to cap a memorable Husker career. After being granted a medical hardship year in 2004 by the NCAA, Simpson led the Huskers to a first-even No. 1 national ranking after the Masters Classic. Simpson helped the Huskers achieve a season record of 21-14 and reclaim the Big 12 Conference championship. Simpson, the 2005 South Central Regional Co-Gymnast of the year, won five all-around titles in 2005, as well as six individual titles on vault, six on floor, five on beam and one on bars.
In defending her status as one of collegiate gymnastics’ best, Simpson’s finest performance of the year came at the Big 12 Championships, where she earned first-team all-conference honors on every event and claimed the Big 12 all-around title for the second time in her career, as well as the beam and floor titles for the third time.
Simpson continued to stockpile honors both in the gym and in the classroom in 2005, as she was selected as Nebraska’s Female Student-Athlete of the year and was a Honda Award finalist for the second time in her career. Simpson became the first-ever Nebraska gymnast presented with the AAI American Award, an honor annually given to the nation’s top gymnast for athletic, academic and community achievement.
Following her senior season, Simpson was awarded a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, as well as a Big 12 Prentice-Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship, and she was one of 10 finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year. A CoSIDA second-team academic All-American, Simpson was named the 2005 Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year and earned her third NACGC Scholastic All-America nod, as well as her eighth appointment to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. In December of 2005, Simpson was also honored as Nebraska’s NCAA-leading 15th NCAA Top Eight Award winner, garnering one of the most coveted awards given in college athletics. Simpson earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies and French from Nebraska in May 2005, carrying a 3.882 grade-point average.
2004 – Senior Season (Redshirt)
Simpson was sidelined in February of the 2004 season with a major knee injury, for which she was later given a medical hardship year.
2003 – Junior Season
Simpson was NU’s top all-arounder in 2003 and quickly earned a name for herself in NCAA women’s gymnastics. She was crowned the 2003 NCAA all-around champion, becoming the second Husker to win the national all-around title in the program’s history, following Heather Brink’s 2000 national championship.
Simpson added an NCAA floor title to her 2003 all-around title, receiving two perfect 10.0s, three 9.95s and one 9.90 from the six-judge panel to take the floor crown by 0.025 over Dantzscher.
Named the 2003 South Central Regional Gymnast of the Year, Simpson rewrote the record books in 2003 by capturing 10 all-around titles. The junior also took Big 12 Gymnast-of-the-Year honors, while winning Big 12 titles in the all-around, vault, beam and floor. Simpson took individual hardware in every meet by either winning an event title or by sweeping the all-around. She won 27 individual honors during the regular season, including 10 titles on vault, eight on beam, seven on floor and two on bars. Simpson produced six scores of 10.0 in 2003.
2002 – Sophomore Season
Simpson joined the Huskers as a transfer from Penn State and was a huge boost for Nebraska in 2002, especially on beam and floor. Simpson led the Husker contingent at the NCAA Championships with four second-team All-America honors in the all-around, vault, bars and beam.
Simpson set two school records at the Masters Classic, helping the Huskers to their 10th title with a season-best 197.15. She became the first Husker to record a 9.975 on beam, helping NU to a school-record beam score of 49.675.
2001 – Freshman Season
Competing for Penn State as a freshman in 2001, Simpson kicked off her collegiate career with an impressive performance at the Super Six Challenge, where she led the Nittany Lions in the all-around (38.725) and vault (9.80).
In a dual with Illinois, Simpson captured her first individual award, winning the beam title with a 9.925. Against Pittsburgh, Simpson recorded her highest all-around total of the season, scoring a 39.35 with a winning score of 9.925 on beam. She also scored a 9.925 on floor and posted a 9.80 on the uneven bars.
Simpson scored a 9.90 or better on beam five times, including against Rhode Island, when she captured her third beam title of the season with a 9.975, helping PSU to a school record on beam (49.65). Simpson added a fourth beam title against Massachusetts with a score of 9.925 and placed 11th on the floor (9.875) at the Big Ten Championships. On the season, she posted highs of 9.80 on vault, 9.825 on bars, 9.975 on beam and 9.95 on floor.
Competing for Leonid Grakovsky and Debbie Vidmar at the Winstonettes Gymnastics Association, Simpson placed fifth in the all-around at the 1999 Canadian National Championships, including a fourth-place finish on beam. At the 2000 Championships, Simpson finished sixth in the all-around and fourth on beam.
The daughter of Richard and Ruth Simpson, Richelle was born Nov. 16, 1982 in Toronto, Ontario. As a member of the Canadian National team in 2003, Simpson participated in the World Championships and the Pan-Am Games, where Canada took home a silver medal in the team competition. A seven-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection, she was named a NACGC Scholastic All-American in 2003, 2004 and 2005.