For her first two years on the Nebraska women’s gymnastics team, Sienna Crouse was more of a three-event specialist, competing on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise.
She's a first-team All-American in the vault and floor exercise. What was missing was Crouse being in the lineup for a fourth rotation, in her case the balance beam, and why it was missing is because she’s not crazy about it. She sometimes wonders why it’s even a thing.
“It’s 4 inches, and who wants to do flips on 4 inches?” said Crouse of the balance beam.
On Saturday the Husker senior did all four events — yes, even that pesky beam — and she did them so well that she won the all-around title during Nebraska's dual against Minnesota at the Devaney Sports Center.
Her winning is a big deal because of her previously mentioned feelings about one of the events, because she’s coming back from an injury, and because of who she beat.
Going into the meet, Minnesota sophomore Lexy Ramler had been the Big Ten Conference gymnast of the week four weeks in a row, and was ranked ninth nationally in the all-around with an average of 39.535.
But Crouse had season-bests on the bars (9.925) and beam (9.875) that allowed her to win the all-around title with a score of 39.525. Ramler finished second in the all-around at 39.475, and Nebraska’s Taylor Houchin was third at 38.925.
The 18th-ranked Gophers won the dual against No. 16 Nebraska 196.600-196.375 in front of 2,811 fans.
For Crouse, it felt good to beat Ramler because she’s a great gymnast, but also because they’ve been competing against each other since high school. Crouse is from Fargo, North Dakota, and Ramler grew up near Minneapolis.
“I competed with her in club, too, so I think the club rivalry is still kind of there,” Crouse said.
Crouse hadn’t been competing in the all-around recently because of an infection in her finger.
“It’s frustrating when it’s just a finger, because you wouldn’t think it was that big of deal, but for bars especially it is,” Crouse said.
Crouse also won the all-around against Washington this season. On Saturday she also tied for first on the bars with Houchin.
This was the first home meet since Heather Brink was promoted from interim head coach to head coach on Feb. 1, and after the meet she was given a couple of large photos. As a gymnast at Nebraska, Brink was the first female gymnast at Nebraska to win the NCAA all-around in 2000.
“I loved my experience as a student-athlete here, and really want to give that back to them,” Brink said.
The Gophers remained unbeaten in the Big Ten with a 4-0 record. Nebraska dropped to 2-2 in the Big Ten, and is 0-3 against ranked teams.
Minnesota took control on the first rotation, when the Gophers were good on bars and Nebraska had two falls on the vault, and Minnesota was able to maintain the lead through each rotation.
“I’m proud of the team for not really giving up after we started the meet with two mistakes,” Brink said. “It’s hard to pick that momentum back up, but I thought they did a really good job. They rallied around each other and the team didn’t really quit and it took every single one of those people to stay in the fight. Had they just given up, it wouldn’t have been that close.”
Nebraska’s Megan Schweihofer won the floor exercise with a season-best 9.900.