Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Becca Mann
Huskers improve on team score in second-straight Big Ten win
The No. 12 Nebraska women’s gymnastics team (2-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) tacked another win on to their record Saturday night, defeating Rutgers and taking top scores in all events, including the all-around competition.
The Huskers won the meet against Rutgers 196.300-192.975, and made it two-for-two in Big Ten tests to open the season after a win over Penn State last week. In addition to NU posting the top scores in all four events, Megan Schweihofer and Allie Epperson tied for the all-around title, and made for a fun night for the 4,443 fans in attendance.
Nebraska coach Dan Kendig credited the support from the stands for helping to keep the team’s momentum going during the night. Saturday’s meet was a co-ed double dual for Nebraska, whose men’s team hosted, and defeated, Ohio State, and Kendig said the energy in the building made for a better environment for all parties involved.
The women kicked off the night on the vault as the Scarlet Knights took to the uneven bars. NU’s Sienna Crouse lead the way for all competitors with a 9.825 in her first event of the night. Crouse’s career high comes from a 9.9125 mark earned at last season’s NCAA Semifinal.
Also competing on vault were Huskers Megan Schweihofer (9.80), Abbie Epperson (9.775), Anika Dujakovich (9.725), Grace Williams (9.70) and Karley Hutchinson (9.675). Nebraska took the top five scores in vault with Hutchinson tying Scarlet Knight Libby Groden for seventh place.
Groden, a senior, was Rutgers’ sole athlete in the all-around competition and earned a 9.775 on bars in the first rotation. NU led the Scarlet Knights 48.825-48.350 after the first rotation.
In the second rotation of the night, Nebraska saw a career-high 9.90 on the uneven bars from Taylor Houchin. The sophomore claimed the title in the her only event of the day, followed by teammates Epperson (9.85), Schweihofer (9.80) and Caitlyn Orel (9.80) to take the top four spots. Rutgers Groden and Shannon Farrell tied for the fifth-place position on bars.
Rounding out Nebraska’s line up were freshmen Torri Hutchinson (9.750) and Kynsee Roby (9.725) to contribute to a 49.100 team score. The Huskers continued to hold the lead 97.925-95.950 heading into the third rotation.
In rotation three, Nebraska took to the beam and accounted for four members of a five-way tie for the event title. The Huskers had Epperson, Schweihofer, Williams and Sierra Hassel earn a 9.825 each, which tied them with Scarlet Knight Belle Huang for the best beam routine. Roby slid in just behind with a 9.800, followed by senior Danielle Breen’s 9.675 to round out the team’s line up.
For the final rotation of the night, Crouse brought the home fans to their feet with a career-high 9.90 on floor, which won her the event title, followed by Williams with a 9.875. Five Husker competitors landed at the top of the rankings on floor including Schweihofer (9.850) in third and Epperson and Hassel drawing even with RU’s Makenzey Shank in fourth place with a 9.825.
That left Epperson and Schweihofer with a split of the all-around title, each earning a score of 39.275 on the night. Groden posted a score of 38.825 for her efforts as the only Scarlet Knight to register a score in the all-around.
The Huskers will continue their three-meet home stand, hosting No. 8 Michigan on Saturday followed by Minnesota on February 3. Nebraska tied the Wolverines for the 2017 Big Ten Regular Season title last season.