Nebraska Returns to Regionals, Hopes to Continue Return to Spotlight

On Thursday, Nebraska competed at NCAA regionals for the first time since 2019. The Huskers have been a top gymnastics team for decades, but the past few years have given them some trouble. It was an exciting return to the postseason, but the meet didn’t go as well as they wanted. 

Nebraska’s 195.525 “wasn’t our best meet,” said head coach Heather Brink. But even though the Huskers didn’t advance to Sunday’s final, they’re proud of how this season went. Nebraska scored a handful of totals in the 197 range towards the end of the season and placed sixth at the Big Ten championships. So even though that momentum didn’t continue into regionals, the team is still proud of its success throughout the year. 

“I’m so proud of this team, the hard work going into it. We didn’t give up. We had a rough first start, but that didn’t stop us,” said Emma Spence. “We kept pushing, and we kept moving forward, and you had some of the best season highs and career highs.” 

Part of the reason that Nebraska may not have done as well is because of its lack of postseason experience. “We haven’t had anybody on our team that’s competed at regionals,” said Brink. Thursday’s meet was a confidence-builder, and more experience will be great for the program’s future. 

Even though the past few years haven’t been the best, most fans know Nebraska is historically a gymnastics powerhouse. In 2018, the Huskers competed in the super six, and that wasn’t a rare occurrence. But the pandemic hit the Huskers hard. As Brink said, “COVID doesn’t help anyone, right?” Despite the off years, Nebraska is slowly but surely making its way back into the spotlight. 

So, while falls on bars and beam took a toll on the overall team score, Nebraska is excited about the future of the program. Emma Spence is exceptionally proud of herself and her team, and she said that “proving to ourselves that we were able to make it to regionals this year is a huge confidence boost going into next year.” 

Luckily for the Huskers, they have a fantastic fan base behind them. Some fans can create a lot of pressure for the team they support, but Emma Spence said it’s all love from Husker nation. “It’s really nice being able to compete in front of so many people that are there cheering for us and supporting us,” said Spence. “Especially this year, we had our highest season attendance.” With more experience and a passionate fan base supporting them, the Huskers have a bright future ahead of them. 

Article by Emily Lockard

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