Photograph: Anika Dujakovich/Twitter
The 2018 NCAA season is still months away, but it is never too early to start knowing the incoming freshman class for each team. This is both a way to begin thinking of potential lineups, and a way to get to know less well-known gymnasts and their routines.
At the end of last season Nebraska said goodbye to two seniors: Jennie Laeng, who competed in the all around in ten of Nebraska’s twelve meets in 2017, and Ashley Lambert, who contributed substantially on bars, vault and floor.
Nebraska is an interesting team. The Huskers traditionally start slowly, to the point that many forget their potential, but reach top form on time for the NCAA Championships. In 2017, for example, they finished fourth in Semi-Final 2, very close to qualify to the Super Six, and finished seventh in the nation overall.
Nebraska has welcomed a very numerous freshman class: Makayla Curtis, from Savannah, Georgia; Anika Dujakovich, from Chicago, Illinois; Karley Hutchinson, from Pearland, Texas; Torri Hutchinson, from Pearland, Texas; Kynsee Roby, from Windsor Heights, Iowa; Rachel Thompson, from Lincoln, Nebraska; and Megan Verceles-Carr, from Los Gatos, California.
Makayla Curtis trained at Summit Gymnastics. She is a J.O. National qualifier from 2015 and 2016. In 2015 she finished fourth on vault, while in 2016 she tied for twelfth on floor. In 2016 she competed at the Georgia State Championships, where she tied for third on both vault and beam. And at the 2016 Region 8 Championships she won silver on vault. In 2017 she also another silver medal on vault at the Georgia State Championships and a bronze medal in the same event at the Region 8 Championships.
Curtis is a talented vaulter. She competes a FTY, but there is footage of her competing even an Amanar. She also has potential on the other apparatuses. She performs a double layout on floor, a Maloney on bars, and a very difficult double tuck off beam.
Anika Dujakovich trained at Fuzion Gymnastics Center. She started to compete as a Level 10 gymnast in 2015, and won silver on vault at the Missouri State Championships. In 2016, she regained her silver medal at the same competition, as well as silver also in the all around, uneven bars and floor exercise. In 2016 she also competed at J.O. National Championships, where she finished ninth on vault and tenth on floor. In January 2017, Dujakovich competed at the Vegas Cup, where she took third place on the balance beam. In February she then competed at the GymQuarters, where she finished third on vault.
Dujakovich has potential as an all arounder. She performs a FTY on vault, while on floor she competes a double pike, a Rudi and a one-and-a-half twist into front layout. On bars, she performs a unique dismount, a toe-on toe-off to front tuck. On balance beam, she competes a cat leap to front Toss and a side somi.
Karley Hutchinson trained at Pearland Elite alongside her twin sister Torri, who is also a freshman at Nebraska (see below).
Hutchinson qualified to the J.O. National Championships in 2015, and tied for thirty-second place on vault. The same year she won the floor title at the Region 3 Championships. At the same competition in 2016 she finished fifth on bars and tied for seventh on vault. In 2017 she competed at the Texas State Championships, where she finished sixth on bars and seventh on vault. She then competed at the Region 3 Championships, where she tied for twelfth on floor. At the 2017 Houston National Invitational she was second on vault, third on floor and fourth in the all around.
Hutchinson can compete two vaults, a front tuck and a FTY. On bars she produces very good toe-on toe-off elements, including a half pirouette, a full pirouette, and piked Tkachev. She also performs a difficult double front dismount. On floor, she competes a double tuck and a one-and-a-half twist to front layout, but there is footage of her training also a strong double front and a double Arabian.
Torri Hutchinson trained at Pearland Elite alongside her twin sister Karley. She qualified to the J.O. National Championships both in 2014 and 2017. At both competitions she finished tenth on balance beam. In 2015, at the Region 3 Championships she finished fifth on floor, while a year later she tied for seventh on balance beam. In February 2017 she also competed at the Houston National Invitational, where she won bronze on both bars and beam.
Hutchinson has outstanding lines on both bars and floor. On bars, she can perform a full pirouette in Stalder position and a full-in dismount, while on floor she competes a front double twist, a double tuck and a variety of twisting combination passes. On vault she competes a FTY, and on beam she has an interesting dismount, a free-cartwheel into one-and-a-half twist.
Kynsee Roby trained at Triad Gymnastics, the gym that produced other two current Nebraska Huskers, senior Danielle Breen and sophomore Sierra Hassel.
Roby qualified to the J.O. National Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016. In 2015 she won the balance beam title, and in 2016 she won silver on bars and in the all around and bronze on beam and floor. In 2015 she was Region 4 champion on both bars and beam, and in 2013 she also was beam champion at the same competition.
Roby is an all arounder, but her best apparatus is beam. She won fourteen beam titles in her club career. She has indeed beautiful lines on beam, she performs a full spin with the leg held at 180 degrees and a free walkover into leap series. She is also very expressive on floor, where she performs a double pike, a double tuck and a one-and-a-half twist into front pike. On bars, she performs a piked Jaeger, a Pak salto and a double layout, and on vault a FTY.
Rachel Thompson trains at Nebraska School of Gymnastics with Vanessa Meloche, who was a former all-American at Nebraska.
Thompson qualified to the J.O. National Championships in 2016, where she finished nineteenth on balance beam. In 2016 she also competed at the Nebraska State Championships, and finished third on vault, bars and in the all around. Back in 2015 she won bronze on bars, floor and in the all around at the Nebraska State Championships, and finished ninth on floor at the Region 4 Championships.
Unfortunately there does not seem to be any available videos showing Thompson compete or train. However, according to her result, she seems to be strong on all apparatuses, and could contribute for Nebraska as an all arounder.
Megan Verceles-Carr trains at West Valley Gymnastics School. She qualified to the JO National Championships a total of four times, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. At the 2017 JO National Championships she tied for third place on balance beam, as well as finishing eighth in the all around. Verceles-Carr is the Region 3 balance beam champion from both 2015 and 2017. Back in 2013 she won the bars title at the Northern California State Championships, and in 2014 she won the vault title at the same competition.
Verceles-Carr has great amplitude on all apparatuses. On beam she has particularly very good leaps, while on floor she has learnt to control her passes very well over the years, and the latter now include a very high double pike and two twisting passes. On vault, she performs a FTY with lots of amplitude, while on bars a piked Jaeger, a shoot-over to the low bar and a double tuck dismount.
Good luck to the future Huskers!
Related: Meet the 2018 Georgia Freshman Class
Article by Talitha Ilacqua