gymnastics-women-nc flag | March 16, 2014

Nebraska claims share of Big Ten title, wins at Big Ten quad meet

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Nebraska captured a share of the regular-season Big Ten Conference title Saturday afternoon. The Huskers posted their second-highest team score of the season (197.050) at one of the Big Ten quad meets to defeat Illinois (196.875), Michigan State (196.200) and Ohio State (195.675).

The Huskers success was fueled by the four all-around competitors: senior Emily Wong, junior Jessie DeZiel, sophomore Hollie Blanske and freshman Jennie Laeng. Emily Wong took home a first-place finish on bars (9.925) and floor (9.95) en-route to her ninth consecutive all-around crown (39.625). DeZiel claimed the beam title to finish second-place in the all-around (39.425), while Laeng in her second appearance in the all-around notched a career-high score of 39.325.

Nebraska opened the meet on vault posting a strong 49.375 team score. Five Huskers composed of Blanske, DeZiel, Laeng, Ariel Martin and Wong all hit identical marks of 9.875. This gives Laeng her career-high mark on the event.

The Big Red took to bars notching a 49.250, led by Wong’s 9.925 score. DeZiel earned a 9.875 while Laeng and Stephens both tacked on identical scores of 9.825. Amanda Lauer saw her first appearance on bars sticking a 9.80 and a career-high mark.

The Huskers carried their momentum over to beam for the third rotation, where the team pulled down a mark of 49.200. DeZiel fueled the Big Red matching her career-high score of 9.90, while the duo of Laeng and Wong both claimed 9.875 marks. Jamie Schleppenbach, Blanske and A. Lauer added scores of 9.775 to round out the beam lineup.

Nebraska sealed their victory on floor, posting a 49.225 on their final event of the night. Wong led the way with her 9.95 mark while Blanske contributed a solid 9.875. Martin picked up her career-high score of 9.825 on the event. Stephens (9.80) and DeZiel (9.775) tacked on important scores to round out the Huskers floor squad.

No. 5 Utah 198.025, No. 6 Georgia 197.600

SALT LAKE CITY -- This gymnastics meet had to be seen to be believed and since there wasn't room for another body in the house, it's lucky the Pac-12 Networks televised the Utah-Georgia showdown to a live audience. In a perfectly scripted finish for the home team, Utah beat Georgia 198.025-197.600 before an oversold Huntsman Center crowd of 15,224. It was a season-high score and the fifth-best score in school history for the Utes, who finished the regular season with a 10-3 overall record.

Locked in a tie with its fierce rival with just three competitors remaining for each team, Utah poured it on down the stretch and the crowd, raucous all night long, went wild when senior Nansy Damianova scored a 10.0 on the floor in her final Huntsman Center routine. Georgia Dabritz had actually clinched the victory for Utah one routine earlier with a 9.95, and her gem was preceded by a 9.925 by Becky Tutka. But Damianova's 10.0 was the icing on the cake.

Minnesota 196.700, No. 15 Penn State 196.475, No. 8 Michigan 196.025, Iowa 194.750

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Senior Joanna Sampson tied for first in the all-around (39.600) and won uneven bars (9.900) and floor exercise (9.925), but Michigan slipped to third place in the first Big Ten Quad, held on Saturday inside Crisler Center. Minnesota (196.700) won the quad meet and clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship with Nebraska, the winner of the other quad in East Lansing, Mich. Penn State took second (196.475), and Iowa took fourth (194.750).

Due to the third-place finish, Michigan will compete in the first session at the Big Ten championships, held March 22 in State College, Pa. The Wolverines will be joined in the first session -- scheduled for noon -- by Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State and Illinois will compete in the evening session.

As they normally do in home meets, the Wolverines started on vault, scoring 49.175, likely leaving some tenths out there due to hops and steps on landings. The best vault of the rotation came from its anchor, as sophomore Austin Sheppard landed her huge Yurchenko Full to score a 9.950. Sampson, junior Sachi Sugiyama and fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein each record 9.825s. while freshman Talia Chiarelli and senior Reema Zakharia each had 9.750s.

U-M got some of those tenths back on uneven bars in one of the best rotations of the season, scoring 49.475. Sampson put forth a dominant routine, scoring 9.950 with an incredibly high Tkatchev and an equally high double layout dismount. Following her was freshman Nicole Artz and senior Shelby Gies, as each capped their 9.900 routines with stuck dismounts -- a double layout from Artz and a double tuck from Gies. Sheppard and Sugiyama each recorded 9.850s, but only one was counted after Beilstein scored 9.875 in the anchor spot. U-M led at the halfway point (98.650), followed by Penn State (98.350), Minnesota (98.300) and Iowa (97.525).

The Wolverines encountered some problems on balance beam and had to count a fall for the first time there all season. The rotation started off beautifully with U-M's two freshmen, as Artz nailed her best routine of the season to score 9.900 in the leadoff spot, followed by Chiarelli at 9.825. U-M ran into its rough patch in the middle, as the next two gymnasts, Gies and Sheppard, each failed to stay on the beam. The Wolverines rallied to close, however, as Sampson scored 9.900 and sophomore Lindsay Williams at 9.825. Michigan was on the outside looking in heading into the last rotation (146.725), as it trailed both Minnesota (147.500) and Penn State (147.375).

Michigan rebounded on floor exercise to score 49.300, but it wasn't enough to overtake Penn State for second place, who hit five-of-six routines on uneven bars. The rotation was highlighted by the seniors, competing for the final time inside Crisler Center. Sampson anchored the rotation at 9.925, while fellow seniors Beilstein and Zakharia each scored 9.875. Artz, who was battling an illness all week long, powered through to score 9.900. The fifth counted score was Sugiyama at 9.725.

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