WGYM: Huskers set for showdown in Florida as season rolls toward crunch time

Photo by Pat Radigan

Husker Abbie Epperson said NU is looking to “peak at the right time” with just two regular season meets to go.

Story by Becca Mann

Nebraska looking to keep momentum going after hectic weekend

Last weekend, Nebraska faced a top 5 team at home. This time, the 13th-ranked Huskers will try and pull off an upset on the road in SEC country.

On the road for the second Friday in a row, NU will face off against a No. 5 Florida (7-2 overall, 5-2 SEC) team coming off a loss to Missouri. The Gators finished 196.700-196.925 on the road against the Tigers and took all four event titles. However, Missouri followed closely behind in each event and found its way to the top of the podium at the end of the day.

Friday’s meet in Gainesville begins at 5:45 CT and will be televised on the SEC Network. Florida holds a 24-10 lead in the series, with the teams last meeting up at the NCAA semifinals in 2017. The Huskers fell 197.8125-197.2125 and fell just short of advancing to the NCAA Super Six Finals.

Senior Abbie Epperson said matching up against highly-ranked teams challenges the Huskers to perform at their highest level.

NU vs. Florida

Huskers hoping to pull the upset over No. 5 Florida in final true road meet of the year.

  • WHERE: Gainesville, Fla.
  • WHEN: Friday, 5:45 p.m.
  • VIDEO: SEC +
  • STATS: Click here

“We always step up to whoever our competition is. I think against those bigger teams we always bring out our best,” she said. “We just have to keep the same mindsets we’ve had… We’re excited to take it on.”

This season the Gators look to senior Alex McMurty, who has posted perfect 10.0s on both the vault and balance beam. Against Missouri, McMurty took the title in all three of her events, finishing with 9.950s on bars and beam, and a 9.925 on vault.

“Florida is the place to be,” Epperson said. “I don’t think any of us have competed at the O-Dome [Stephen O’Connell Center] before, so we are all extremely excited to get down, get some sunshine and have another great meet. It’s a quick turnaround but we’re ready for it.”

The Huskers will also have to battle against junior all-around competitor Alicia Boren, who took the title against Missouri with a 39.500 including scores of 9.925 on beam and floor.

After this weekend’s competition in Gainesville, Nebraska heads back into Big Ten competition and will match up against Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State and Ohio State at the B1G Five Meet on March 17.

“I think we really needed this meet,” Epperson said after the Master Classic. “We always peak at the right time and I think that’s the start, right now and we’re just going to keep getting better and better every weekend. Each meet is going to be a little bit more important, so this is a great start to that.”

Last Time Out

The Nebraska women’s gymnastics (11-2 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) team faced a busy schedule of travel and competitions last weekend, appearing at Elevate the Stage 2018 and the Masters Classic.

On March 2, the then-No. 16 Huskers traveled to Augusta, Georgia, to face up against Stanford (195.925), Illinois (195.900) and then-No. 17 Georgia (195.825) and walked away with a 196.700-the team’s highest score on the road this season. In addition, junior Sienna Crouse finished her All-Around efforts with a 39.400 for a third-place finish on the day.

Husker Taylor Houchin won two titles in NU’s second-place finish at last Sunday’s Masters Classic to claim her first career Big Ten weekly award.

Battling a quick turnaround, the Huskers returned to the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Sunday to host No. 2 UCLA, Iowa State and Kent State in the annual Masters Classic. In its second meet of the weekend, the team posted its highest score of the year and broke the 197-score mark for the first time this season. Nebraska placed second in the meet with a 197.175, topping Iowa State (195.575) and Kent State (194.700) while finishing behind UCLA (197.500)

Husker sophomore Taylor Houchin took the vault event title with a career-high 9.975 to lead the team to a season-high team score of 49.475 on vault. For her efforts on both vault and bars over the two meets, Houchin was named Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week, her first honor in the category.

“Starting off strong like that, we really needed that,” Epperson said of the team’s performance on vault at the Masters Classic. “I’m so proud of being able to do that after the week that we had. I think that was the reason today was so successful, was that we started off so strong on vault.”

The Huskers went on to post another season-high score on bars with a 49.325 led by a pair of 9.90s from Crouse and Epperson. The two posted identical scores in every event to tie for second in the All-Around with a 39.450 and Megan Schweihofer followed in third with a 39.425.

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