MSU Gymnastics Host Illinois in 2014 Season Opener
Jan. 9, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women’s gymnastics team officially opens the 2014 season as the Spartans host Illinois on Friday at Jenison Field House at 7 p.m. The winner of the meet will be awarded the “Victory Plank”, a rivalry trophy that was created in since 2010.
“Illinois is No. 16 in the country and we know it’s going to be a very tough competition; however, it’s their first meet too,” said head coach Kathie Klages. “Our team is just ready to compete, because we have been training since August. They just need to get onto the competition floor and feel that excitement in a real meet and I think they’re really ready to compete. We are lacking some depth, and hopefully that will improve with some health to some of our gymnasts in the future.”
The Spartans, who received votes in the 2014 GymInfo Preseason Poll, were voted seventh in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Junior Alina Cartwright and freshman Elena Lagoski were selected as Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch entering the season. Hoping to build off of a successful sophomore campaign, Cartwright earned a career-high 9.95 on vault against Denver to tie for third all-time in the MSU record books. She was also one of three Spartans to represent Michigan State at the NCAA Regional. On beam, Cartwright qualified with a career-high of 9.850 against Michigan. Spartan newcomer Elena Lagoski comes to Michigan State from Kingston, Pa. where she was a 2011 and 2012 Junior Olympic national qualifier and also placed fourth on both the bars and beam at the 2012 regional championship.
Ranked No. 16 in the GymInfo preseason poll, the Fighting Illini look to build off a 2013 season where the team finished 11th overall at the NCAA Championships returning 18 routines while adding five freshmen to the lineup. Sophomore Giana O'Connor and senior Amber See were named to the 2014 Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch List. Both gymnasts, along with junior Sunny Kato, were second-team All-Big Ten selections in 2013.
Both teams will compete for the traveling “Victory Plank” rivalry trophy. Created in 2010 with the help of MSU Gymnastics Booster Club board members Jeff Spindler and Jeff Mertens, the trophy is made to specifications to resemble a balance beam. Michigan State will look to win the trophy for the first time in its short history.
The Spartans will be back in action at they face Pittsburgh on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. at Jenison Field House for their second home meet in as many weeks.
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