Jan. 10, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Despite solid performances on the vault and floor exercise, Michigan State gymnastics fell to Illinois 194.150 – 195.352 in the first competition of the 2014 season on Friday night at Jenison Field House. The Spartans team score is the highest in a season opener since 2007. Though the Illini will keep the ‘Victory Plank’, the rivalry trophy awarded to the winning team since 2010, junior Alina Cartwright won the all-around competition with a career-high score of 39.275.
“I’m really excited about how the team did today,” said head coach Kathie Klages. “We came out starting very strong on vault. We were really pleased with that performance. We hit five out of six routines on beam and moved on to do the same on floor. It’s a great way to start the season. I think there’s a little disappointment in that we really wanted that ‘Victory Plank.’ But just the joy of getting out on the competition floor is what these kids are built for. This is what they do; they love getting out here to compete. Being able to do that at home in front of our Spartan crowd was just so exciting and so fun. We made mistakes tonight, but they are fixable mistakes. We’ll get better from here, so that’s exciting.
“Alina went home this summer and worked really, really hard and came back with a new belief in what she’s capable of doing. We’re just really proud of what she’s done and we know there’s more in there yet.”
Michigan State started the meet with a strong performance on vault led by a 9.85 from Cartwright to tie with Illinois’ Amber See for first place overall in the event. She was followed by freshman Elena Lagoski with a 9.775 to place third and senior Dani Levy, who posted a score of 9.75 to place sixth overall. MSU totaled a team score of 48.80 to win the event.
Moving on to the uneven bars, Cartwright led MSU again with a score of 9.775. Sophomore Lisa Burt was close behind with a 9.75 for third place overall, while sophomore Brittany Holmes scored a 9.675 to place sixth. The Fighting Illini’s Jordan Naleway was the individual event winner with a score of 9.825, while the Spartans posted a team score of 47.675.
The Spartans continued their momentum on the balance beam with Cartwright posting a score of 9.825 to place sixth overall followed by Brittany Holmes with a 9.75 to tie for seventh. Liz McNabb represented Illinois with a winning score of 9.875 as MSU earned a team score of 48.650 in the event.
MSU finished with a solid team performance on the floor exercise. The Spartans were led by Lagoski who posted a score of 9.9 to tie for first place in the event with See from Illinois. Cartwright and Levy tied for fourth place, each posting a score of 9.825, while sophomore Lisa Burt earned a 9.775 to finish sixth. MSU totaled a winning team score of 49.025 on floor.
Next weekend, the Spartans will back in action as they host Pittsburgh at Jenison Field House on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m.