2018 Outlook – Nebraska Cornhuskers

NEBRASKA ROSTER 2018
Seniors
Danielle Breen
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Made final 2017 lineup on UB, BB, FX
  • Team’s top BB routine (9.870)
  • Competed VT in 2016 for 9.862
Abbie Epperson
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Made final 2017 lineup on UB, BB
  • Competed each piece at least 4 times
  • Can go on any event as needed
Grace Williams
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Weekly BB (9.850) and regular FX in 2017
  • Added VT for postseason
  • Team’s top UB routine in 2016 (9.875)
  • Can make any lineup, health permitting
Juniors
Sienna Crouse
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA five times in 2017
  • Made final lineups on VT, UB, FX
  • Has 10.0-start Y1.5 on VT
  • Team’s top routine on UB (9.890)
Megan Schweihofer
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA four times in 2017
  • Reached 9.9 mark on each event
  • Made final lineups on VT (9.830), FX (9.850)
Sophomores
Kelli Chung
(redshirt)
  • Has not competed a routine
Sierra Hassel
BB
FX
  • Made 2017 final BB lineup with 9.800 avg
  • Competed FX 3 times early in season
Taylor Houchin
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Weekly AA in 2017
  • Has 10.0-start Y1.5 (RQS 9.880)
  • Led off UB, BB
  • #2 returning RQS on FX (9.845)
Catelyn Orel
(redshirt)
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Missed 2017 season with injury
  • Saw time on each event in 2016
  • Regularly competed UB, FX for 9.8s
Freshmen
Makayla Curtis
VT
BB
FX
  • Summit
  • 2nd VT, 2017 Region 8s, Senior F
Anika Dujakovich
VT
FX
  • Fuzion
  • 9th VT, 10th FX, 2017 JO nationals, Senior D
Karley Hutchinson
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Pearland Elite
  • 12th FX, 2017 Regions 3s, Senior D
Torri Hutchinson
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Pearland Elite
  • 10th BB, 2017 JO Nationals, Senior D
Kynsee Roby
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Triad
  • 2nd AA, 2016 JO Nationals, Senior C
  • Torn ACL, March 2017
Rachel Thompson
  • NSG
  • 19th BB, 2016 JO Nationals, Senior A
Megan Verceles Carr
VT
BB
FX
  • West Valley
  • Y1.5 on vault
  • 8th AA, 2017 JO Nationals, Senior E

Recent History
2017 – 7th
2016 – 8th
2015 – 8th
2014 – 6th
2013 – 14th
2012 – 8th
2011 – 4th
2010 – 7th

As is typical, Nebraska outpaced expectations in 2017 with a 7th-place finish (after a preseason coaches ranking of 12th). Nebraska has bested its preseason ranking in each of the last four seasons, which should make the other teams somewhat nervous this year since Nebraska received a preseason ranking of 9th.

It’s unsurprising that Nebraska tends to be underestimated because the team is basically a national secret. Without the preseason instragram videos, twitter updates, and live streams of the other top schools, Nebraska does not develop the same kind of reputation footprint or expectations, meaning the fans (and the judges) go into seasons much more blind. Nonetheless…


Vault
Lineup locks
Houchin (9.880), Schweihofer (9.830), Crouse (9.810),
Lineup options
Verceles Carr (FR), Epperson (9.790), Williams (9.775), Orel (9.660 in 2016), Roby (FR), Dujakovich (FR), K Hutchinson (FR), T Hutchinson (FR), Curtis (FR)

Nebraska enters the season in solid shape on vault, with two 10.0 starts returning from last season in Houchin and Crouse with their Y1.5s. Most teams in this section of the rankings are looking at one or two 10.0 starts total, so this should keep the Huskers in the front of the vaulting pack, as they typically are. Nebraska will hope to add a third 10.0 start from the freshman Verceles Carr, who competed a 1.5 to moderate success in the 2017 JO season. Even if that vault doesn’t develop, she’s powerful enough on vault that she should be one of the fulls in the lineup.

Schweihofer has her own very strong full that can score mid-9.8s and should return, leaving the last two spots somewhat up in the air. Epperson and Williams both vaulted last season for 9.775-9.825, Williams edging out Epperson for the postseason spot. They could return, but the heavy majority of the freshmen also have viable fulls that just need a little refining. That’s what Nebraska does on vault, so expect it to happen. When healthy, Roby will be there. I’d also give a shot to Dujakovich or Karley Hutchinson.

Vault really should be a strength for Nebraska this year for 49.3 (it should have been last year too, but that’s another story), a lineup that should rank among the top 8 teams.


Bars
Lineup locks
Crouse (9.890), Houchin (9.835)
Lineup options
Roby (FR), Orel (9.790 in 2016), Williams (9.875 in 2016), Schweihofer (9.860), Breen (9.815), Epperson (9.555), T Hutchinson (FR), K Hutchinson (FR)

Nebraska may be somewhat more pressed for options on bars, though how pressed depends on several unknowns. Williams is theoretically the team’s best bars worker, but she was not able to compete bars in 2017. If that’s still the case, the scoring onus defaults to Crouse, as well as now Houchin in her second year. Houchin is very adept on bars but has a simple routine, which coupled with her leadoff spot in the lineup last year, made for some 9.800s. She can do better than that, and Nebraska will need more out of that routine this year in absence of Laeng.

Also in the unknown category is Roby because of that ACL injury. Bars will come back the fastest, and is also a strength for her, so expect to see something from her. Bars was also Orel‘s best event in 2016, where she became consistently 9.8s at the end of the season, so while we haven’t seen gymnastics from her in a year, Nebraska will likely be relying on that bars routine again.

In the more known category, Breen has been a reliable force on bars for several seasons, Schweihofer suddenly emerged as a high-scoring bars worker last year even though it’s supposed to be her bad event, and despite some inconsistency, Epperson was good for 9.8s last year. That group of 7-8 would keep Nebraska very competitive on bars with mid-9.8s for 49.2s and 49.3s, with Crouse and Roby looking to get into the 9.9s.

If some of those unknowns don’t pan out, however, if Williams still can’t go, if Roby and Orel aren’t back in full force right away, if injuries crop up, there aren’t a lot of other options. That’s the worry about Nebraska’s bars this year.


Beam
Lineup locks
Breen (9.870), Williams (9.850), Houchin (9.795)
Lineup options
Roby (FR), Verceles Carr (FR), Hassel (9.800), Crouse (9.695), Orel (9.667 in 2016), Epperson (9.550), Schweihofer (9.521)

On beam, Nebraska is faced with inconsistency among the second tier of options (as emphasized by some of those RQSs and averages from last season), but a couple strong routines from freshmen should allow for a degree of choice in 2018 to weed out the points of greatest uncertainty.

Beam is Roby‘s other strong event, a routine that would be a sure-thing for the lineup at full strength, and Verceles Carr excels on beam in the split elements, which should help her set minimize built-in deductions. Those two are very realistic nominees, at least at some point, to join the sure-things, Breen, Williams, and Houchin. Beam is the only event where Nebraska hasn’t lost a top-2 routine from last season, so the scoring leadership at the top of the group is pretty well intact.

Hassel carved out a nice place for herself in the lineup at the very end of last year, not missing a routine, which could come in handy again. Several other people could realistically go: Epperson made the lineup last year, and Crouse has the potential just not the consistency so far. Perhaps that will continue to develop in time.

Beam was a disaster for Nebraska at the beginning of 2017, but once a viable middle of the lineup was developed, it became a nationally competitive piece by the postseason. The hope is that it won’t take as long this year to find a six.


Floor
Lineup locks
Crouse (9.855), Houchin (9.845), Schweihofer (9.850)
Lineup options
Roby (FR), K Hutchinson (FR), Verceles Carr (FR), Williams (9.805), Epperson (9.744), Orel (9.725 in 2016), Breen (9.515), Hassel (9.083), T Hutchinson (FR), Dujakovich (FR), Curtis (FR)

Where is Nebraska on floor without Lambert and Laeng, the two best floor scores from last season? The routines should exist in 2018—many of the freshmen are bringing believable double pike sets to bolster the options—but where do the 9.9s come from to keep pace with the top-10 teams?

In terms of bringing the big, Schweihofer is becoming increasingly important with her DLO routine, one I expect to take on a more significant role in the lineup in 2018. Crouse is the highest-scoring returner with her front 2/1, and Houchin tends to score very well by keeping things clean and keeping toes pointed in a double pike set. That approach is likely to be mimicked by Roby in time, though the ACL comeback means lower expectations for her potential contribution on the power events.

In terms of new routines, keep an eye on Karley Hutchinson primarily because she had a double front in JO, which would be exciting. We could see many of the other newbies getting time here and there as well (Verceles Carr, Curtis, Torri Hutchinson), but hers is the routine that stands out from the pack. Breen came back on floor at the end of last season for countable scores in the leadoff spot, and ideally you’d have Williams if she’s able to go, along with some possible 9.8s from Orel filling out the best group of options.

Viable routines all, but we’ll need to see some more realistic 9.9s coming from several corners to ensure that this is more than a 49.250 event.


Nebraska should be in solid shape for 2018. There are not a ton of proven gymnasts returning to the lineups, but those that are bring the all-around. It’s the virtue of all those years of small rosters: most on the team are used to doing the all-around as needed, and Nebraska shouldn’t have too much trouble coming up with lineups of 9.8s depending on how many freshmen pan out.

That’s what makes Nebraska a very realistic pick to make it back to nationals as usual and act as a reasonable Super Six spoiler, though that spoiler status will largely depend on Roby getting back healthy and the development of a couple new 9.9s on floor.

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4 thoughts on “2018 Outlook – Nebraska Cornhuskers”

  1. Taylor Houchin had knee surgery in September, looked like she was in an ACL brace after, so I’m assuming that’s what it was. I don’t think we’ll see anything from her save maybe some late season bars.

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  2. I actually visited their intrasquad earlier this November, and they seem to have a handful of tricks up their sleeve! Something to just be cognizant of is the abundant amount of 10.0sv vaults they threw on the hard surface. Verceles-Carr, Dujakovich, one of the Hutchinson twins, Crouse, Chung, and Williams all through 10.0sv vaults with Williams being the only one to fall on it. Each of these girls did a Y1.5 while Chung did a FHS onto the springboard Front Pike off. Combine that with Houchin’s Y1.5 and that could get potentially provide 6+ usable vaults with a 10.0 sv.

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