After posting season’s best score, Husker’s male gymnasts ‘want to do better’ in Saturday’s last six | Gymnastic


Nebraska men’s gymnastics coach Chuck Chmelka spotted his team’s score at last year’s NCAA championships during pregame preparations on Friday.

It was a 406. That was pretty damn good, he thought.

Imagine Chmelka’s excitement after his team posted a 411.38 Friday on Day 1 of the NCAA at the Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

It was the Huskers’ best score of the season, it put them second in the first session and they clinched a berth in the last six for the fifth consecutive season.

By placing in the top three, No. 4 NU will advance to the team final on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Defending and top-ranked national champion Stanford scored a whopping 426.325 to win the first session. Illinois (406,691) also advanced.

“It’s not very often you get your best score at NCAA championships,” Chmelka said, acknowledging the tougher judgment in NCAA meets. “Usually you lose a few points because of how they (score).

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The Huskers and Illini went back and forth at No. 2 and 3, but Nebraska finished second with a 72.531 on vault, the team’s final event.

However, it was how the Huskers started that impressed Chmelka the most.

Husker’s coaches have focused on stronger encounter starts. “It’s been a priority for two months and it finally happened,” Chmelka said.

NU started on pommel horse and scored 67.765 before moving on to high bar (67.732) and floor exercise (68.398).

Nebraska was sticking the landings and producing crisp, clean routines.

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“We just kept training and pushing on it and making sure the first guys got the most important job in the competition,” Chmelka said. “All the training and everything finally worked out.”

Nebraska was at its best on vault. All five Huskers in the event — Taylor Christopulos, Charlie Giles, Dylan LeClair, Donte McKinney and Sam Phillips — scored 14.266 or better, including McKinney, who jumped to 14.733.

LeClair entered the roster after an ankle injury kept junior Liam Doherty-Herwitz, one of the team’s top jumpers, out of the event. LeClair scored a season-high 14.466.

“What’s Dylan going to do? Go stick it straight to the mat,” Chmelka said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. This kid is rock solid and does his job what isn’t asked of him.”

Michigan’s No. 3 (412.890), Ohio State’s No. 6 (407.956) and Oklahoma’s No. 2 (407.290) finished the second session.

The individual finals will also take place on Saturday.

The Huskers were calm and very soft after Friday’s session, Chmelka said. As happy as they were with Friday, the plan is to emulate him now.

“We are only halfway there and we have another job to do tomorrow,” the coach said. “Rest, sleep well, eat well and start again. It’s not like we’re done. We want to do better.”

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