MSU Spartans
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Women's Gymnastics
2007 Michigan State Gymnastics Season Preview
Chayla Hill
Chayla Hill

Jan. 7, 2007


"As a coaching staff, we believe this is one of the most talented teams that we have ever had at MSU. We anticipate an outstanding season with a major improvement in the national rankings. Our goals include challenging for a Big Ten title and qualifying for the national championship meet."
Michigan State head coach Kathie Klages

Michigan State returns eight letterwinners from the 2006 squad, while seven newcomers will compete for the Green and White in 2007. Head coach Kathie Klages enters her 17th season at the helm of the Spartan program, and welcomes first-year associate head coach Randy Lane and third-year assistant Katie Teft to the competition floor this year.

Klages is pleased with the commitment that her team made to offseason training, and feels confident that the newcomers have made a smooth transition to the collegiate arena.

"I think the team really focused on improving their skill level during offseason training by doing their best to stay in great physical condition, and also building on the confidence they gained by their performance at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Regional meets. With the addition of seven freshmen, we spent a lot of time getting to know each other and really coming together as a team this fall. Our team chemistry, camaraderie and our work with a sports psychologist really helped to form a strong bond within our group."

Klages and her staff feel that a strong team on the competition floor is the result of team oriented practice and training sessions.

"During practice we make sure that the upperclassmen and freshmen are well integrated in training sessions. Instead of 15 individual gymnasts working on individual routines, we work on team training, team assignments and provide each other with support and suggestion. My staff and I feel that this will only help our freshmen get used to a new facility, coaching staff and overall new environment."

Seniors -
Returning for MSU is a strong senior class, led by 2006 NCAA Championships participant Kristen Coleman, who is joined by Chayla Hill and Victoria Iakounina. Coleman represented the Green and White as an individual performer at the 2006 NCAA Championship Meet after placing third in the Central Region Championship Meet all-around competition with a score of 39.125. Hill enjoyed a successful junior campaign, finishing as co-champion on the vault at the Big Ten Championships in a five-way tie for first with a score of 9.800, while Iakounina garnered her second-career Second-Team All-Big Ten award in 2006.

"We have a great senior class this year. It is a class that leads by example and work ethic, both in the gym and in the classroom. These three will consistently post high scores and strong performances for our team, which will help our large freshmen class become more acclimated to the college atmosphere. Kristen Coleman and Victoria Iakounina will contribute in all four events for us this season, while Chayla Hill will continue to impress the crowd with her vault, beam and floor routines."

Kristen Coleman

Juniors -

The junior class of Bethany Little, Megan McNally and Rhiannon Banda-Scott also will bring veteran experience and leadership to the 2007 squad.

"The junior class brings a lot of leadership to this team. Though they have been hampered by injuries this fall, we anticipate them to come on strong at the end of the season. Megan McNally will add depth on beam and floor, while Bethany Little is strong on vault and uneven bars. Rhiannon Banda-Scott is an all-around gymnast who will add depth on all events."

Sophomores -
Dani Fanning and Katlyn Roggensack enter their sophomore seasons with the Green and White after highly successful rookie campaigns. Fanning made an immediate impact in the 2006 season opener versus Kentucky in early January, just days after completing high school. Roggensack provided a solid addition to the Spartan all-around rotation last season. Klages expects much of the same in 2007.

"The sophomore class has that important first year of experience that has helped them gain the confidence needed to excel this season. Katlyn Roggensack performed in the all-around, while Dani Fanning contributed in three events last year. This season we look for both of them to contribute in the same manner, and with added knowledge, confidence and experience to assist the team in accomplishing its goals."

Freshmen -
The highly-touted freshmen class of Megan Bergland, Nicole Curler, Melanie Hunt, Emily Lopatofsky, Kelly Moffitt, Rochelle Robinson and Julie Sauchuk will undoubtedly make a huge impact on the success of the Spartan gymnastics program over the course of their careers. Five of the freshmen have the ability to compete in the all-around competition, while all seven have prior national competition experience.

"Nicole Curler, a former national beam champion, will contribute on all four events this season and has the potential to vie for a Big Ten Championship," Klages said. "Rochelle possesses an amazing amount of power on vault and floor, is a two-time national vault champion and certainly will prove to be a crowd pleaser with her performances. Megan Bergland was the Region 5 all-around champion last year. She is a beautiful gymnast that has great lines, especially on the uneven parallel bars. Emily Lopatofsky is very talented, and she has been working hard to improve her form and her technical abilities in training sessions this fall. Kelly Moffitt is the consistent one who brings a calm confidence to the freshmen class. She is an extremely hard worker, and should contribute on vault and uneven bars. Julie Sauchuk, a two-time national qualifier, brings a unique skill set to the competition floor. Melanie Hunt adds depth to our team on bars and floor, and is a hard worker that has improved immensely during the fall."

Vault -
A historically challenging event, the vault proves to be a strong asset for the 2007 squad. Coleman, Hill and Iakounina, along with Curler, Little, Robinson and Sauchuk also will be regulars in the Spartan vault rotation this season.

"I think this season we have more depth on vault than we've ever had during my time at Michigan State in terms of difficulty level," Klages said. "In the past we've had to utilize a number of 9.8 and 9.9 level vaults, but this year we have a strong group of gymnasts that all do vaults with a 10.0 difficulty level. Look for two-time national champion Rochelle Robinson to excel on vault this season, as well as 2006 Big Ten co-champion Chayla Hill."

Uneven Bars -
The uneven bars event will feature an upgraded skill level due to the expertise of associate head coach Randy Lane on the apparatus. Prior to his time at MSU, Lane mentored four Florida gymnasts to All-America honors during the 2006 campaign, and looks to bring that same level of intensity to the Spartan program.

"Coach Lane has brought a new and energized approach to the uneven bars event to the gym this year," Klages said. "Our skill level and difficulty level on routines has risen considerably since last season. Kristen Coleman and Victoria Iakounina will lead the way on bars, while Dani Fanning, Rhiannon Banda-Scott, Katlyn Roggensack and freshmen Megan Bergland, Nicole Curler, Melanie Hunt, Emily Lopatofsky and Rochelle Robinson also will excel on the event."

Balance Beam -
The freshman class will make strong contributions to the balance beam in 2007. Curler was a 2005 Junior Olympic national champion on the event, while Moffitt captured the event title at the 2006 Indiana State Championship Meet. Veterans Coleman and Iakounina also will contribute on the event for the Green and White.

"We have really increased our difficulty on balance beam in the area of flight series and dismounts. Look for our freshman class to anchor this event for us in 2007. Nicole Curler will excel throughout the season, while Kristen Coleman and Victoria Iakounina will also provide experience and strong skills to this event."

Floor Exercise -

Klages and her staff feel that the floor exercise is the event in which MSU has improved the most since the 2006 season in terms of difficulty level. The freshman class will make an immediate contribution to the success of this event for the Spartans. Coleman and Hill, the top two tumblers of the eight returning letterwinners, also will provide consistency on this event throughout the season.

"Five of our freshmen will contribute E level tumbling passes on the floor for our team this season," Klages commented. "Veterans like Kristen Coleman and Chayla Hill will continue to impress with their excellent choreography and tumbling skills. Not only do we have gymnasts with high skill levels, but we also encourage them to enjoy their craft and really perform for the judges and the crowd."

2007 Schedule -
Michigan State will face six teams ranked in the 2007 GymInfo Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll, and also will compete against nine additional teams that received votes by the panel of coaches. MSU opens the season against No. 16 Arizona and will face No. 3 Florida, No. 6 Michigan, No. 14 Penn State, No. 21 Minnesota and No. 24 West Virginia during the dual-meet season.

"We face a strong group of teams from the GymInfo Preseason Top 25 Poll during the 2007 campaign," Klages said. "We are anxious to see how our team competes against that level of competition. We will see West Virginia three times this year, and are very excited to host NC State and Michigan, as well as the annual State of Michigan Classic Meet, highlighting all five Division I gymnastics programs in the state (MSU, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Michigan and Western Michigan). It's always an honor to host this meet and showcase the top gymnasts from around the state."




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