Nebraska's beam team put on a dream performance last weekend in the Huskers' opener against Michigan.
NU rolled up a 49.325, the best score in the country and its best finish since last year's opening match against Denver.
“The beam team has been working hard,” NU women's gymnastics coach Dan Kendig said. “If we continue to do that, we're going to win a lot of meets this year.”
Jennifer Lauer, a sophomore from Sioux City, Iowa, led the way with a winning score of 9.95 to earn a No. 1 national ranking. Emily Wong contributed a 9.90, followed by Jessie DeZiel (9.85), Janelle Giblin (9.825) and Kassandra Nathe with a 9.80 in her return to competition.
While Kendig was somewhat surprised to see Lauer's score, he wasn't surprised by her steady performance. She didn't miss a routine last year on the beam, floor or vault. She came on strong toward the end of the season and that has continued this winter.
Lauer, he said, has always been capable of a big performance, but a wobble here or a step there on a landing would hurt her scoring. It was great to see her joy after Saturday's routine, he said.
“She's just worked hard all year and her whole career here,” Kendig said. “She's just a plugger, in the gym and in the classroom. It's good to see good things come to those kind of people.”
Wong and DeZiel also had great meets, Kendig said. Wong won the floor exercise and finished second in the beam.
He praised Desirť Stephens, a sophomore from Millard West, and Jamie Schleppenbach, a junior from Lincoln Pius X, who had strong performances in the vault and floor. Schleppenbach won the vault with a score of 9.875.
Kendig got the good start he wanted, even though the Huskers lost to Michigan. It was a plus that his team had no major mistakes, he said.
Nebraska will try to continue to get better in Saturday's 6 p.m. meet with Michigan State at the Devaney Center. The Huskers are 28-3 at home since 2008 and take pride in winning in front of their fans.
“I think we're comfortable there. They've done well there in the past,” Kendig said. “You don't want to lose at home in any sport.”
It will be the first time since joining the Big Ten that the Huskers have faced Michigan State, which added eight freshmen this year. The Spartans lost their opening match last weekend to Western Michigan.
Several Huskers are still under the weather.
“They come in and work hard ever day,” Kendig said. “We need them.”
Huskers get another shot at OU
Gretna freshman Ethan Lottman helped lead the Nebraska men's team last weekend at the Rocky Mountain Open.
The ninth-ranked Huskers finished second behind third-ranked Oklahoma.
“That's the closest we've been to them in at least 12 years,” NU coach Chuck Chmelka said.
Sophomore Wyatt Aycock finished second and Lottman third in the pommel horse in his first collegiate meet.
“He did great. I was extremely happy. That was our first event and the nerves were there,” Chmelka said of Lottman. “I think that's what carried us through the meet.”
Chmelka is hoping for another strong meet from the Huskers when they face Oklahoma, No. 5 Stanford and No. 6 California in the Stanford Open on Saturday.
“In some ways, it's like we've got everything to gain and nothing to lose since we're the lowest seed going in,” he said.
Chmelka said the Huskers had a great week of practice and are pumped to face the tough field. They'll start with the floor exercise.
“Hopefully we can start off strong and let it go from there,” Chmelka said.
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