Hometown Huskers is the theme of Nebraska's home gymnastics matchup with No. 19 Illinois on Friday night.
The seventh-ranked Husker women (2-1) have three Nebraskans on their roster — Desirť Stephens, Jamie Schleppenbach and Madison McConkey.
Coach Dan Kendig says the Huskers also have two honorary hometown athletes in Sioux City twins Amanda and Jennifer Lauer, who trained with the Premier club in Omaha.
Jennifer Lauer has competed in the all-around at NU's three meets, and has career bests in the bars (9.9) and beam (9.95). Amanda has done an exhibition in the beam and is getting better every day, he said.
“They are great kids and great students,” he said. “They are pluggers. They come in every day and work hard and keep getting better.”
Stephens, a sophomore from Millard West, is the lone Omahan. She's competed in the vault and floor, and has been honored for her community service.
She's hoping to have a big following, many sporting the Nebraska gymnastics shirts she gave her family for Christmas. Her dad has nine brothers and sisters who are all married, so she said she had to get a lot of them.
“It's actually really exciting. I love having all my family out,” she said. “It's just a really fun experience.”
Schleppenbach, a returning All-American from Lincoln Pius X, is still battling an illness but will compete Friday at 6 p.m. in the vault and floor.
McConkey, a freshman from Pius, has been playing catchup since taking time off from training but is doing much better, Kendig said.
“She's doing a good job and is a great team player for us,” he said.
eatherholt earns league tennis honor
Nebraska tennis player Mary Weatherholt earned the Big Ten athlete of the week award after going 3-0 last weekend.
The senior from Prairie Village, Kan., defeated No. 23 Brynn Boren of Tennessee (6-3, 3-6, 6-3) and No. 58 Britney Sanders of Notre Dame (6-3, 6-4) in No. 1 singles.
She teamed up with Patricia Veresova to defeat the Volunteers' 12th-ranked team of Boren and Kata Szekely (8-3) in doubles.
“She had an amazing weekend. She's just a great leader,” coach Scott Jacobson said. “It's not surprising in the least. She's one of the greatest competitors we've ever had.”
Weatherholt was named the Big Ten tennis athlete of the year last season. She didn't play singles in the fall because of an injury, so she's not yet ranked.
The 4-0 Huskers travel to Ohio State on Saturday at 11 a.m. before heading to the National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 8 to 11. They qualified by winning the ITA Kick Off last weekend.
“We're off to a good start,” Jacobson said.
Men's gymnastics team faces Gophers
The Nebraska men's gymnastics team will take on No. 6 Minnesota and Illinois-Chicago on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Minneapolis.
The ninth-ranked Huskers earned a season-best total score of 423.300 last week against Illinois-Chicago and hope to continue that momentum. They also had their season high even scores in the horse (71.550) and rings (71.000).
C.J. Schaaf earned a personal best in the all-around (81.050).
Senior Gabriel Sanchez competed in his first event for Nebraska, earning a 13.95 on the vault.
Also this weekend:
>> The Nebraska swimming and diving team will attempt to set a school record for victories this weekend.
The Huskers will compete in the Northwestern Invitational on Friday and Saturday, facing Northwestern, Iowa and No. 15 Ohio State in separate duals.
Nebraska is 11-1 and with one win will surpass the previous record set in 1986-87 and 1989-90. An 8-1 record in 2004-05 was the previous best for coach Pablo Morales.
>> The Nebraska bowling team will compete at the Prairie View A&M Invitational on Friday at 1 p.m.
>> The men's tennis team is at home Friday against Illinois State at 5 p.m. at the Nebraska Tennis Center.