March 23, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State gymnastics team hosted the 2013 Big Ten Gymnastics Championships on March 23 at Jenison Field House. The Spartans placed seventh overall with a score of 195.45, and had two athletes earn spots on the All-Championship Team.
“It was very exciting,” said head coach Kathie Klages. “We asked them to leave it all out on the competition floor and they certainly did today. I’m really proud of where they’ve come from the first of the year to now. I’m very excited about the competition today.”
MSU opened the competition on the floor, recording a team score of 48.825. Leading the Spartans was junior Dani Levy who posted a 9.825 to tie for 21st overall. Sophomore Ashley Noll followed with a score of 9.800 to finish 24th, while freshman Brittany Holmes recorded a 9.75 to tie for 34th.
The Spartans then moved to vault for the second rotation. Winning the event in the first session, senior Taira Neal posted the highest score for MSU with a 9.900. Overall for the Championships, she tied for eighth overall. Sophomore Alina Cartwright tied for 17th overall by recording 9.85. Noll tied her season-best score of 9.800 to tie for 27th. MSU earned a team total of 48.950 on vault.
“I’m really excited about winning the session,” said Neal. “It feels great. I’m just so happy to be a part of this team. It means a lot. There are really great gymnasts in the Big Ten, so it’s really cool.”
Michigan State entered their third rotation of the competition on bars, posting a team score of 48.900. To tie for second overall, freshman Lisa Burt tied her personal-best score with a 9.9. Sophomore Ashley Stevenson tied for 31st overall with a score of 9.775, while Neal and freshman Kate Filosi tied for 36th place as each posted a score of 9.75.
In their final event, MSU earned a team total of 48.775 on the balance beam. Neal led the Spartans with a score of 9.850 to tie for eighth overall. Cartwright tied for 15th place with a score of 9.825, while Noll finished with a 9.725 to tie for 31st overall.
“Floor is tough one to start on and I think the team did a nice job,” Klages said. “I think that there were a little bit of nerves going at the beginning. I thought we started of really solid and I think that gave them a lot of confidence going forward. Then to go to vault and do as well as we did was great. I’ve been saying all year that bars was our weakest event and we came out and performed awesome tonight for this team. I’m really excited about that and Lisa (Burt) and her personal record. Going on to beam and hitting five out of six routines, you have to be excited about that.”
In the all-around competition, Cartwright placed 11th overall with a total of 39.125, while Burt earned a total of 38.975 to finish 14th.
For their accomplishments at the meet, Neal and Burt were named to the All-Championship team. It was the first time since 2010 that Michigan State had gymnasts earn the conference championship honor.
“It’s really surprising”, said Burt. “It’s such an honor because there are such great gymnasts in this conference and to be recognized among them is amazing.”
The Spartans will now wait to see if they qualify for the NCAA Central Regional Championships scheduled for April 6 at any of the following sites: Oklahoma (Lloyd Noble Center), Oregon State (Gill Coliseum), Florida (O’Connell Center), Ohio State (St. John Arena), West Virginia (WVU Coliseum) or Alabama (Coleman Coliseum). The participants and and their respective locations will be announced on a selection show on NCAA.com on March 25 at 3 p.m.