Nebraska gymnastics double dual, 1/20/18

Nebraska's Kyle King works the pommel horse during a dual with Ohio State at the Devaney Sports Center on Jan. 20.

Nebraska continues to cross off several droughts in men's gymnastics.

The latest were a result of the No. 2 Huskers' 404.500-401.550 win at No. 3 Penn State on Saturday.

It marked the first time since 1999 that Nebraska had won four straight meets. According to the Husker record books, it also was Nebraska's first dual win at Penn State since 1983.

More impressive, Nebraska got over the Penn State hump without some of its top contributors this past weekend. Senior Chris Stephenson, who can contribute on all six events, stayed home because of the flu. Senior Daniel Leal, who competed in three individual events at NCAAs last year, remains sidelined by a back injury. Sophomores Evan Hymanson and Austin Lober, key parts in the Huskers' still rings rotation, are also battling injuries.

So when Chuck Chmelka was asked who stood out Saturday, besides event winners Anton Stephenson (vault and floor exercise) and Jake Bonnay (high bar), the Nebraska coach could have rattled off every name.

"I wouldn't even know where to start," he said. "It was a total team effort."

Nebraska's 2017 season was punctuated by the team's first trip to the NCAA final six since 1999. But the Huskers' lowest team scores during the 2017 regular season came away from their home floor. Though teams typically perform better on their own equipment, NU was not as consistent in road meets.

But the Huskers are better on the road this season, earning wins at Iowa, at Penn State and at the Arnold Classic, which included defending Big Ten champion Ohio State. NU also won the season-opening Rocky Mountain Open. Chmelka said NU only had two misses at Penn State. The home team had nine.

The difference is simply experience, Chmelka said.

"The eight seniors are doing everything right, and they're carrying our team," he said. "The young guys are hopping on the train with them and doing what they're suppose to do. They just grow off each other and their momentum carries from one routine to another."

Nebraska will host No. 6 Minnesota and No. 8 Iowa in a triangular at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Devaney Sports Center.

Chmelka said he expects Chris Stephenson to go this week, and he was optimistic about having Leal back competing.

The Huskers trail only No. 1 Stanford in the rankings, but it should be noted Oklahoma is likely to move to the top spot this week. To qualify for the rankings, teams have to compete in two road meets, and the Sooners did not compete in their second road meet of the season until this past weekend. OU had a season-opening road meet canceled.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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