Despite Season Bests, Spartans Narrowly Nipped By Penn State Sunday
MSU tallied season highs in three separate categories in getting topped by five-hundredths of a point.
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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State posted a season-best team score of 195.550, but fell by five-hundredths of a point to visiting Penn State (195.600), on Sunday afternoon at Jenison Field House as part of the third-annual Tumbles and Takedowns meet with MSU Wrestling, and in front of a large crowd in attendance and a nationally televised audience on the Big Ten Network.
Along with team season bests overall and on both uneven bars (49.000), and balance beam (48.700), MSU had 10 personal-best scores on the afternoon, including two each for senior Tessa Jaranowski on the vault and bars and freshman Lea Mitchell on the bars and floor.
“We keep improving so that’s great. We improved on two events, and we didn’t do as well on two events as we did last week, but when we start putting it all together we’re on track to do some really great things,” said head coach Mike Rowe. “We’re still not at full strength. We’ve still got some kids coming back from injuries that will be contributing to our lineups.”
The Spartans opened on vault, posting a team score of 48.625. Freshman Isabelle Wittebort made her Spartan debut in the event, followed by the senior Jaranowski who posted the first of her two-straight career bests with a 9.675.
The remainder of MSU’s rotation all posted 9.7 or better, led by a third-place finish by Michelina Lupinetti, who had a personal-best 9.775 in the event. Anna Gamelo was sixth with a 9.750, followed by Lea Mitchell (9.850), and Roya Shirley (9.700).
Penn State’s Briannah Tsang took the event title with a 9.850 to lead the Nittany Lions, who scored a 48.950.
MSU followed that up with a season-best team score of 49.000 on bars. Spartan freshman Anne Maxim led the squad with a 9.90 to establish a new personal best and a third-place finish, and classmate Mitchell (9.85, fifth) also had a new personal-best.
Junior Jessica Ling (9.775), Hailee Westney (9.75) and Jaranowki (9.725) rounded out the Spartan rotation, with Jaranowski posting a second-straight career best on the day.
Lauren Bridgens and Sabrina Garcia shared the event title for Penn State with identical 9.925 scores, as PSU scored a 49.375 on the apparatus.
The Spartan momentum carried over onto the beam with another season best for the squad, which posted a 48.700, besting their guests as PSU posted a 48.175. The event was anchored by a career-best 9.90 by Westney, who took top honors on the apparatus for the Spartans. Senior Victoria Huehn (9.775) was fourth overall, followed by Lupinetti (9.725), Shirley (9.725) and junior Molly Hoerner O’Malley (9.625).
Tsang and Garcia finished tied for second overall on the day, leading the Nittany Lions with twin 9.850 marks.
Tsang also took the floor title for Penn State, but the Spartans captured the next three spots and five of the next six. Mitchell led the way for MSU with a 9.875 to establish a new best, followed by a 9.850 for junior Drew Hendershot and a personal-best 9.85 for Shirley. Brittni Chappell and freshman Tristan Brown gave MSU a strong start on floor with a pair of 9.800 scores. MSU scored a 49.175 on the floor on the afternoon, edging Penn State (49.100).
“We always like to compete against better teams. I think in my 12 years of coaching, as an assistant at Pitt and then coming here, I’ve never beaten Penn State. So to be that close tonight was the biggest thrill. I said, ‘watch out at Big Ten’s because we’re going to be right on your tail.’ That was the biggest thrill at the end when it was going back and forth. It gave good TV viewing and it was great for the arena because nobody knew what was going on until the last routine. We had a lot of fun and hope everybody else did too,” added Rowe.
Shirley took third in the all-around for the Spartans, scoring a 38.950 behind Tsang (39.475) and Sabrina Garcia (39.300). Mitchell scored a 38.450 to finish fourth.
The Spartans head to Ann Arbor next weekend to face in-state foe Michigan. That meet is slated to begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday.