The bigger the crowd, the more explosive the Nebraska women’s gymnastics team.
That’s why coach Dan Kendig is hoping for a full house on Sunday when the Husker women host Penn State at 2 p.m. at the Devaney Center. Sunday is Pack-the-House day, featuring $1 admission and $1 24-ounce Pepsi products.
Fans’ reaction to a strong first routine can set the tone for the rest of the event. The ninth-ranked Huskers start off Sunday with the vault, which was a bright spot against Illinois last weekend.
They scored a season-high 49.300 in the event as Jamie Schleppenbach was the individual winner with a score of 9.925.
“A big crowd can help the momentum go the right direction for us,” Kendig said. “The scores build off each other.”
Nebraska had its first major mistakes last week against Illinois, but still won every event to raise its record to 3-1. Kendig said the Huskers followed that up with a good week of practice and everyone on the team is finally healthy.
That’s what the coach focused on this week instead of a rough start on the bars and a few problems on the beam against the Illini.
“It was just one of those things,” Kendig said. “We talk about it, we don’t make a big deal about it and we move on.”
Janelle Giblin was one of the highlights against Illinois, scoring a 9.95 to win the uneven bars. That tied her career-best on the event and tied for the fourth-highest individual bars score in school history.
She’s come on strong in her last three meets, averaging 9.90 on the event.
Giblin was chosen as the Big Ten event specialist of the week after also tying for fourth on the vault and finishing sixth on the beam.
Penn State features Big Ten gymnast of the year Sharaya Musser, who has won the all-around in three of the Nittany Lions’ four meets.
Penn State is 7-3 and 2-1 in the Big Ten after posting a season-high team score of 195.575 last week against Ohio State.
Senior class guides NU swimmers to 12-3 mark
A reach for the stars attitude has led the Nebraska swimming and diving team to a school record 12 victories.
The Huskers, 12-3 in duals, surpassed the 1986-87 and 1989-90 squads that finished with 11 victories. Eight had been the previous season-best win total for coach Pablo Morales.
“I think this year has kind of been the culmination of some really good recruiting efforts the past few years and some girls developing over time,” Morales said. “And the team really investing in goals that were bigger than they ever thought of before.”
Previous assistant Doug Humphrey had a lot of input, and now Pat Rowan has brought in some new energy, Morales said.
He also credited his senior class, which has helped develop the team.
This season, Morales said, everything has come together for senior Hayley Martin, who set a school record in the 100 backstroke (54.25). Captains Ellan Dufour and Ashley Reiter also have shown the way.
“Sometimes you have seniors just looking to get to the finish line,’’ Morales said. “Our seniors are looking to continue the growth of this program.’’
The squad is preparing for the Big Ten championships in Minneapolis from Feb. 20 to 23.
In other sports
>> The women’s golf team opens its spring season at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, on Sunday. Katelyn Wright leads the Husker lineup. The junior from Incline Village, Nev., produced a pair of top-five finishes and four top-20 showings while shooting a team-best 75.13 stroke average in the fall.
The men open their spring season Friday and Saturday at the Big Ten Match Play in Florida. The NU-Purdue winner Friday morning will face Iowa in the afternoon.
NU is looking to build off a fall season which saw the Huskers open with a victory at the Fairway Club Invitational and add three additional top-10s in four tournaments. Newcomer Kolton Lapa led the team in stroke average with a 74.00 over 14 rounds. Lapa, a freshman, and sophomore Ross Dickson were the only Huskers to compete in every tournament during the fall.
>> The women’s tennis team will be competing this weekend in the ITA national team indoor champioinships in Charlottesville, Va. Sixteen ranked teams were chosen for the event after winning ITA kickoff weekends. Nebraska, undefeated this spring, is ranked 17th.
>> The eighth-ranked Nebraska rifle team will close its regular season at home this weekend, hosting No. 5 Army at the NU Rifle Range on Saturday at 8 a.m. Both teams are looking to gain momentum heading into the postseason. Army is 7-4 and 3-2 in the GARC while NU is 15-5 and 3-2.
>> The bowling team is competing in the SU-ITRC Invitational in Arlington, Texas, this weekend.
>> Men’s tennis hosts Drake at 6 p.m. Friday at the Nebraska Tennis Center.