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MSU Gymnastics Host Penn State for Autism Awareness Meet

Lisa Burt won the all-around last weekend against Pittsburgh.

Jan. 24, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State women’s gymnastics team welcomes conference rival Penn State this weekend for the fourth-annual ‘Flip For Autism’ Awareness meet on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. Held in Jenison Field House, the meet will feature local gymnasts with special needs and Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu.

“I know the team was not happy about their performance against Pitt last weekends, so I expect to see a motivated, excited team on Saturday,” said head coach Kathie Klages. “From what I have seen in practice this week, I expect to see a major improvement in our team score. Disappointment can be a real motivator and I have seen that this week in the gym.  Having Alina (Cartwright) back in the all-around will also bring a more competitive team.” 

Fourth Annual 'Flip For Autism' Awareness Meet
Team physician Dr. Larry Nassar is the founder of the event and is particularly drawn to autism as his daughter, Caroline, is autistic. Due to Dr. Nassar's connection to the world of gymnastics as he is Team USA's team physician, Dominique Moceanu will make a special appearance prior to the meet and sign autographs. Moceanu was a member of the 1996 Gold Medal winning US Olympic team and has won four individual gold medals, including two at the 1998 National Championships. There will also be a presentation by local gymnasts with special needs before the competition.

“We were the first team in the nation to sponsor this competition,” Klages said. “We do it to raise awareness about how important movement is for cognitive development. We hope to raise money for the Gymnastics Doctor Foundation to assist with research in this area. Dr. Larry Nassar, our team physician, is the head of this foundation and we want to support him in all that he does for Autism Awareness. He takes such great care of the gymnastics team we want to help him in any way that we can.”



The event is held to help raise funds for the Gymnastics Doctor Autism Awareness Foundation, a 501 c 3 non-profit charity supporting research for children with special needs. For more information, visit

Last Time Out
In a meet that came down to the final routine, MSU fought hard but dropped a 192.525-193.025 decision to Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon at Jenison Field House. Lisa Burt paced the Spartans with two individual titles on the uneven bars and balance beam to win the all-around competition with a score of 38.775. Led by Burt’s first-place routine, Michigan State outscored Pittsburgh on the balance beam 48.675-47.575.

The Lowdown on the Lions
Penn State is coming off a big win in a quad-meet where the Nittany Lions posted a score 196.025 to top Southeast Missouri State (193.800), Cornell (191.000) and UIC (189.125). Eleven personal-best performances led Penn State to their sixth win of the season.

The Nittany Lions are coached by Jeff Thompson, who enters his fourth season at the helm of Penn State. Last season, MSU was edged by Penn State, 196.700-196.000 in University Park, Pa. Pacing the Spartans was Lisa Burt registering a career-best of 9.925 to tie for first on the balance beam.

MSU In The Rankings
The Spartans are currently ranked 34th in the nation with a team average of 194.338. MSU is tied for 18th in the nation with a balance beam average of 48.663, while the team’s floor exercise score of 48.613 sit at 29th.

Individually, Big Ten Gymnast to Watch Alina Cartwright is tied for 13th in the nation with her all-around score of 39.275 from the Illinois meet.

Next Up
In their first road competition of the 2014 season, the Spartans will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on in-state and conference rival Michigan on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.

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