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Women's Gym vs Illinois

Addy De Jesus performs on the floor exercise against Illinois in January at the Devaney Sports Center.

Feb. 3 was more than just Super Bowl Sunday. It was also the day Nebraska freshman gymnast Addy De Jesus vaulted on to the national scene.

A near-perfect 9.925 vault against 10th-ranked Michigan landed her at No. 10 on "SportsCenter" top plays, but she has been doing more than just making highlights for No. 18 Nebraska.

“I had no idea I would make such an impact on my team,” De Jesus said. “I'm so honored to be a part of a team. The experience here and being a part of this team has been amazing.”

The word "team" means a lot to De Jesus. Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, things were a bit different for the Husker freshman.

Sure, she was a three-time all-around Connecticut state champion, and was nominated twice for the state Female Athlete of the Year, in 2016 and 2018. She was the Connecticut Hearst Media Most Valuable Player in 2016-17. She also helped Greenwich to three consecutive conference and state titles, but by the time club gymnastics rolled around, De Jesus was the only top-tier member of her YMCA Gymnastics club team.

“The workload is a whole lot more and the conditioning is a whole lot more,” De Jesus said about the college transition. “It's kind of like high school, but everything is a lot more intense.

“I was able to be a part of of my high school team, and that kind of made me aware of how important a team is, and how every individual on this team has a role and everything counts. Coming into the college atmosphere, it was very easy to cheer on my teammates and be there for them, compared to club gymnastics, which is basically an individual sport.”

De Jesus' first collegiate meet was a memorable one against No. 1 UCLA on national television. Since then, the nerves have settled and De Jesus plans on going to greater heights in the future.

“As a freshman, going to UCLA was so intimidating,” De Jesus said. “We hadn't even competed against (anyone) but it was so exciting, but it really prepares you for times like the Big Tens (championship). You can feel the hype on big meets like that.

“Being able to compete against big teams and being close to beating them is amazing. It shows we are very talented.”

Two current teammates, Sienna Crouse and Taylor Houchin, who compete in similar roles for Nebraska, were helping De Jesus even before she joined the Husker program.

Crouse competes in the all-around; Houchin in the vault, bars and beam events. De Jesus competes in the vault, bars and floor, with the vault being her top event.

“It's been great to have them on the team, because they are such big role models,” De Jesus said. “They help me every day to be the best that I can be, and being so close to their scores is huge. Before I even came here I was basically their fans. Taylor is amazing at vault and I was like, 'I want to vault like her.' Being able to look up to such great vaulters, and all around they are very good gymnasts.”

De Jesus and the Huskers will host the Masters Classic at the Devaney Center at 7 p.m. Saturday against No. 9 Kentucky, No. 13 Boise State and Illinois State.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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