NEB ATH: Huskers Claim Seven Top 10 Team Finishes in 2015-16

Posted By: Sports

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Nebraska programs produced an impressive total of seven final top-10 national finishes across its 24 team sports, including an NCAA women’s volleyball championship in 2015-16.

Volleyball’s fourth NCAA title since 1995, including its third under Coach John Cook, capped an impressive run by the Big Red. The Huskers rolled to six wins in the NCAA Tournament, including two on their home court at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, before notching wins over No. 11 BYU and No. 1 Washington in the Lexington (Ky.) Regional. Nebraska put the finishing touches on a magical postseason with an NCAA semifinal victory over No. 9 Kansas before throttling No. 3 Texas in straight sets in front of back-to-back NCAA-record crowds at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The Huskers closed the season with 16 consecutive victories, including seven over top-20 foes. Nebraska’s 32-4 overall record included a 17-3 Big Ten mark. The Huskers also led the nation in attendance for the third consecutive season.

Nebraska’s NCAA volleyball title gave the Huskers their 27th all-time national championship across all sports, and was highlighted by All-America performances from twin sisters Kadie Rolfzen and Amber Rolfzen (Papillion, Neb.), Justine Wong-Orantes (Cypress, Calif.), Kelly Hunter (Papillion, Neb.) and freshman Mikaela Foecke (West Point, Iowa), who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. All five of those All-Americans are expected to return to the court for the Huskers in 2016.

The Husker bowling team, under the guidance of legendary coach Bill Straub, just missed out on its sixth overall NCAA title. Nebraska advanced to the national championship match for the fourth consecutive season before suffering a narrow 4-3 defeat to Stephen F. Austin. Julia Bond (Aurora, Ill.) and Gazmine Mason (Cranston, R.I.) both repeated as All-Americans for the Husker bowlers in 2015-16, while Briana Zabierek (Lockport, Ill.) added the first All-America award of her career. All three are expected to return to the lanes for the Big Red in 2016-17.

Coach Chuck Chmelka guided the Nebraska men’s gymnastics team to its best NCAA Championship finish since 1999, as the Huskers took seventh at nationals in 2016. All-Americans Ethan Lottman (Gretna, Neb.), Sam Chamberlain (Franklin, Ohio), Austin Epperson (Allen, Texas) and Anton Stephenson (Fishers, Ind.) gave the Huskers their highest total of individual All-Americans since 1998. The Big Red have finished among the top 10 nationally in five of the past seven seasons under Chmelka.

Nebraska added eighth-place finishes from its traditionally powerful women’s gymnastics, wrestling and rifle programs in 2015-16. Coach Dan Kendig’s women’s gymnastics team finished as the Big Ten runner-up while hosting the conference championships at the Devaney Center. The Huskers, who made their 24th all-time appearance at the NCAA Championships, were led by senior Hollie Blanske (Oak Grove, Minn.), who capped her outstanding career with three individual All-America awards. Blanske took third on vault at the NCAA Championships, after claiming the Big Ten vault title. She was a six-time All-American as a Husker.

Coach Mark Manning’s wrestling program added an eighth-place NCAA finish of its own for its highest national finish since 2009. The Huskers, who claimed the 20th top-10 NCAA finish in school history, were led by NCAA 184-pound runner-up TJ Dudley (Irmo, S.C.). Dudley’s performance not only gave him his second All-America award, it earned him a place as Nebraska’s Male Athlete of the Year. Dudley and fellow junior Eric Montoya (Albuquerque, N.M., 133 pounds) joined senior Austin Wilson (Hastings, Neb., 165 pounds) as All-Americans for the Husker wrestlers in 2016, who earned their 14th top-16 NCAA team finish in 16 seasons under Coach Manning.

Coach Ashley Rose-MacAllister also led the Husker rifle team to an eighth-place NCAA finish in her second season guiding the program. With All-Americans Rachel Martin (Peralta, N.M.) and Denise Martin (Chewelah, Wash.) leading the way, the Huskers notched their second straight top-eight NCAA finish and 12th in 18 seasons as a varsity sport at Nebraska.

The Nebraska men’s track and field team rounded out the top-10 team finishes for the Huskers in 2015-16 by capturing 10th at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. Nick Percy capped the year with the best individual performance by any Husker across all sports with his national championship throw of 201-0 in the discus. The Husker men also swept the Big Ten men’s indoor and outdoor track and field championships, giving the Big Red their first conference indoor and outdoor sweep since 2004 for Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Men’s Coach of the Year Gary Pepin. Overall, the men’s and women’s track and field programs had 19 All-Americans combine for 24 awards.

The Huskers finished 27th nationally in the annual Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, an improvement of 12 spots from 2014-15.

The Husker baseball and softball teams both competed in NCAA Regional play, as Nebraska was one of only 20 schools in the country to have both teams advance to the NCAA Tournament in 2016. Coach Darin Erstad’s baseball team made its second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last three years. The Huskers finished with a 37-22 overall record that included a runner-up finish in the Big Ten regular-season standings with a 16-8 mark. Coach Rhonda Revelle’s softball program earned its 20th NCAA bid in the past 22 seasons, finishing with a 35-21 record that included a 13-9 Big Ten mark. First-team All-American MJ Knighten (Buena Park, Calif.) and third-team All-American Kiki Stokes (Olathe, Kan.) helped the Huskers to a 2-2 record at the NCAA Columbia (Mo.) Regional.

The Nebraska women’s swimming and diving program produced its best national finish since 2006, taking 39th at the NCAA Championships. All-America diver Anna Filipcic (Omaha, Neb.) took 10th in the one-meter dive to lead the Huskers and earn NU’s first All-America award in pool or well since 2006. Filipcic returns to lead Coach Pablo Morales’ Huskers in 2016-17.

The women’s track and field teams added a third-place finish at the Big Ten outdoor meet, after finishing sixth indoors. The Husker women took 42nd at the NCAA Indoor Championships, while the Husker men finished 44th. The women added a 46th-place team finish outdoors.

Mike Riley led the Huskers to victory in the Foster Farms Bowl, capping his first season as Nebraska’s head football coach. Nebraska, which finished with a 6-7 record that included a 3-5 Big Ten mark, advanced to a bowl game for the eighth consecutive season.

The Husker women’s basketball team earned its fifth consecutive postseason tournament berth, advancing to the first round of the WNIT. Nebraska closed the season with an 18-13 overall record that included a 9-9 Big Ten mark, before former Husker Amy Williams was named NU’s 10th women’s basketball coach on April 11, 2016.

Coach Tim Miles’ men’s basketball team produced a three-game improvement in the win column in 2015-16, finishing with a 16-18 overall record that included a 6-12 Big Ten mark. The Big Red added a pair of wins at the Big Ten Tournament to close the season.

The Nebraska women’s soccer team and men’s and women’s tennis teams all enjoyed winning campaigns in their first seasons in the new Nebraska Soccer and Tennis Complex. Coach John Walker’s soccer program overcame injuries to finish with an 8-7-2 overall record, just missing an NCAA Tournament berth. The Big Red finished 4-5-2 in the Big Ten.

Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis team continued its rise, finishing with a 17-8 overall record that included a 4-7 Big Ten mark. Coach Kerry McDermott’s men finished 14-13 overall and 4-7 in the regular-season conference standings before adding a win at the Big Ten Tournament to close the year.

In addition to the team success of the Husker programs, a total of 41 Huskers earned 49 All-America awards across all sports, including 21 first-team All-America awards. The Big Red’s All-Americans came from 19 states, including 12 from Nebraska, and four foreign countries.

Nebraska continued its amazing success at the turnstiles again in 2015-16. Nebraska led the nation in fall and winter sport total attendance across football, volleyball, soccer and men’s and women’s basketball, before finishing second nationally in seven-sport attendance (baseball, softball) by attracting more than 1.3 million fans. Overall, Nebraska ranked among the nation’s top 15 in average home attendance across 10 sports, including volleyball (1st, 8,206), men’s gymnastics (2nd, 1,830), baseball (8th, 5,222), wrestling (10th, 1,893), football (11th, 89,998), men’s basketball (11th, 15,430), women’s basketball (12th, 5,404), women’s soccer (13th, 1,381), women’s gymnastics (15th, 2,412) and softball (1,006). The Huskers extended their NCAA-record sellout streak to 347 games in football in 2015, while the volleyball program extended its NCAA-record streak to 204 consecutive regular-season sellouts. Volleyball and softball both set program records for average home attendance.

Nebraska’s 2015-16 All-Americans (41 Athletes/49 Awards/21 First-Team)

  • Oladapo Akinmoladun, Senior, Grandview, Mo., Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, 60 Hurdles)
  • Oliver Alexandre, Freshman, Hallandale, Fla., Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Indoor 4×400)
  • Grant Anderson, Sophomore, Wayne, Neb., Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Outdoor High Jump)
  • Paula Andrie, Senior, Gillette, Wyo., Women’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Outdoor Pole Vault)
  • Landon Bartel, Sophomore, Ashland, Mo., Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Indoor High Jump)
  • Hollie Blanske, Senior, Oak Grove, Minn., Women’s Gymnastics (1st Team, Vault, 3rd; 2nd Team, All-Around; 2nd Team, Floor)
  • Julia Bond, Sophomore, Aurora, Ill., Bowling (1st Team)
  • Sam Bransby, Sophomore, Naperville, Ill., Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor 4×400)
  • Sam Chamberlain, Senior, Franklin, Ohio, Men’s Gymnastics (1st Team, Parallel Bars)
  • Reka Czuth, Sophomore, Pecs, Hungary, Women’s Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor High Jump; 2nd Team, Indoor High Jump)
  • Kaiwan Culmer, Sophomore, Nassau, Bahamas, Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor Triple Jump)
  • TJ Dudley, Junior, Irmo, S.C., Wrestling (1st Team, 184 Pounds)
  • Austin Epperson, Junior, Allen, Texas, Men’s Gymnastics (1st Team, Floor)
  • Anna Filipcic, Junior, Omaha, Neb., Women’s Swimming & Diving (Honorable Mention, One-Meter Dive)
  • Sarah Firestone, Junior, Mercersburg, Pa., Women’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Javelin)
  • Mikaela Foecke, Freshman, West Point, Iowa, Volleyball (Honorable Mention, Outside Hitter)
  • Levi Gipson, Senior, Lincoln, Neb., Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor 4×400; 2nd Team, Indoor 4×400)
  • Kelly Hunter, Sophomore, Papillion, Neb., Volleyball (Honorable Mention, Setter)
  • MJ Knighten, Junior, Buena Park, Calif., Softball (1st Team, Third Base)
  • Mate Koroknai, Junior, Debrecen, Hungary, Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Indoor 4×400)
  • Ethan Lottman, Senior, Gretna, Neb., Men’s Gymnastics (1st Team, Pommel Horse)
  • Denise Martin, Chewelah, Wash., Senior, Rifle (2nd Team, Smallbore)
  • Rachel Martin, Junior, Peralta, N.M., Rifle (2nd Team, Smallbore, Honorable Mention, Combined)
  • Gazmine Mason, Junior, Cranston, R.I., Bowling (3rd Team)
  • Eric Montoya, Junior, Albuquerque, N.M., Wrestling (1st Team, 133 Pounds)
  • Andy Neal, Sophomore, Lincoln, Neb., Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Indoor 4×400)
  • Nick Percy, Sophomore, Ventnor, England, Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, Discus, National Champion)
  • Sean Pille, Senior, Oakland, Neb., Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, 400 Hurdles)
  • Amber Rolfzen, Junior, Papillion, Neb., Volleyball (2nd Team, Middle Blocker)
  • Kadie Rolfzen, Junior, Papillion, Neb., Volleyball (1st Team, Outside Hitter)
  • Cody Rush, Senior, Grand Island, Neb., Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor 4×400; 2nd Team, 400)
  • Scott Schreiber, Sophomore, Menasha, Wis., Baseball (Honorable Mention)
  • Anton Stephenson, Freshman, Fishers, Ind., Men’s Gymnastics (1st Team, Parallel Bars)
  • Kiki Stokes, Senior, Olathe, Kan., Softball (3rd Team, Outfielder)
  • Tanner Townsend, Junior, Castle Rock, Colo., Men’s Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor 4×400)
  • Cody Walton, Sophomore, Forest Lake, Minn., Men’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Decathlon)
  • Tierra Williams, Junior, Auburn, Neb., Women’s Track & Field (1st Team, Indoor/Outdoor Triple Jump; 2nd Team Indoor Long Jump)
  • Austin Wilson, Senior, Hastings, Neb., Wrestling (1st Team, 165 Pounds)
  • Brittni Wolczyk, Freshman, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, Women’s Track & Field (2nd Team, Javelin)
  • Justine Wong-Orantes, Junior, Cypress, Calif., Volleyball (3rd Team, Libero)
  • Briana Zabierek, Junior, Lockport, Ill., Bowling (Honorable Mention)