No. 6 Huskers Defeat Top-Ranked Utah

Lincoln – Freshman Emily Parsons captured two event titles and tied senior Richelle Simpson in the all-around as the sixth-ranked Nebraska women's gymnastics team picked up its biggest win of the year by defeating No. 1 Utah, 196.65-196.60, Sunday afternoon in front of 1,993 fans at the Devaney Center.

The Huskers improved to 3-4 on the season, scoring over 49.0 on all four events and setting or tying six season-high individual scores. The win over Utah also extended the Huskers' home unbeaten streak in the Devaney Center to 54 regular-season competitions.

Simpson and Parsons starred for the Huskers as they tied for second-place honors in the all-around with a score of 39.475. Parsons claimed the floor (9.925) and vault (9.925) titles, while tying for second (9.90) on beam and finishing 11th on bars (9.725). Simpson tied for second on floor (9.90) and beam (9.90) and also tied for fourth on vault (9.875) and sixth on bars (9.80).

"Emily and Richelle are such a tremendous one-two punch," NU Coach Dan Kendig said. "They both have beautiful vaults and floor routines and outstanding beam routines. They really seem to feed off each other. The two of them have been wonderful to have in our lineup."

Nebraska began the competition on vault, where Parsons tied her season high to pick up her third vault title of the season with a 9.925. Simpson and sophomore Stephanie Carter each posted a 9.875 to tie for fourth, while freshman Desire Sniatynski tied her season best with a 9.80. Sophomore Michele Zabawa earned a 9.75, while Williams matched Zabawa's score to bring NU to a 49.225 on the event.

The Huskers then moved to the uneven bars, where Zabawa led the team with a 9.85 to tie for first place. Simpson and sophomore Kristi Esposito tied for sixth-place honors with a 9.80 each. In addition, Williams and Sniatynski earned a 9.775 each. Nebraska finished bars with a score of 49.10 as a team.

NU's third event of the afternoon was the balance beam, and the Huskers saw a solid performance from Parsons, who set a season high with a 9.90. Simpson also scored a 9.90, as did Saas while tying her season high to force a three-way tie for second. Zabawa scored a season high of her own with a 9.80 in her beam debut, and Carter finished 10th (9.675). Nebraska completed beam with a 49.25.

The Huskers capped the competition on floor exercise, where Parsons captured her fifth individual floor title of the year with a 9.925 which equaled her season high. Simpson tied for second with a 9.90, and Carter followed with a season-best 9.875 for a fifth-place finish. Esposito scored a 9.80 to tie for seventh, and Saas finished ninth (9.775). Williams rounded out the Huskers' floor lineup with a 9.75 to tie for 10th, bringing Nebraska to a 49.25 on the event and a narrow victory over the Utes.

"What an incredible competition this was today," Kendig said. "There were two great teams separated by just five-hundredths of a point at the end. It's a tribute to Utah and Nebraska and was just a great meet all-around. This is an enormous boost to our program in that we were able to beat the No. 1 team in the country. We had a great team effort today, and I'm proud of each and every one of our athletes."

The Huskers continue their month-long home stand with the annual Masters Classic Sunday, Feb. 27 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The meet is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will feature No. 13 Denver, No. 19 Auburn and No. 20 Kentucky.

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