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Spartans Welcome Former Gymnasts in Alumni Meet

Alex Pace and the rest of the Spartan gymnasts will welcome back former athletes in the annual Alumni Meet on Saturday (Feb. 4).

Feb. 3, 2012

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EAST LANSING - Mich. - The Michigan State Gymnastics team will host Southeast Missouri State in the annual Alumni Meet on Saturday (Feb. 4) at 7 p.m. (ET). The Spartans will welcome back several former members of both the men's and women's squads to the floor following the meet to be introduced to the crowd.

"We are excited to host Southeast Missouri this weekend for our Alumni Meet. We have a number of former gymnasts coming to town and it is always exciting to have alumni come back and support the current athletes during the meet," said head coach Kathie Klages. "We finally got into the 194's last week against Illinois State. We are looking to build on that this weekend and hopefully get into the 195 or 196's, which is what this team is capable of."

MSU enters the meet ranking 39th in the country with an improved average team score of 192.331. The highest team average for the Spartans is on the vault with 48.681, which puts them at 26th in the nation. Michigan State is also currently ranked in the top-40 nationally on the uneven bars and floor exercise, ranking 36th (48.156) and tied for 32nd (48.475), respectively.

Individually, redshirt sophomore Taira Nealis the highest scoring Spartan. She currently has an average score of 9.863 on the vault, which ties her for 22nd in the nation and seventh in the region.

Michigan State also sees various members ranking in the top-25 in the Central Region. With an average mark of 9.731 senior Jackie Berg is currently tied for 16th on the uneven bars, while sophomore Dani Levy's 9.719 average puts her at 25th. Levy is also the 17th all-around gymnast in the region with an average score of 38.331. Sophomore Sarena Bumbarger is the top Spartan on the balance beam with an average score of 9.750, which is good enough for 12th in the region. In the floor exercise, freshman Ashley Nollis currently tied at No. 25 with a 9.738 average.

In the Big Ten Conference there are five Spartans ranking in the top-25. Neal sits alone at fifth in the league on the vault and is just 0.12 points behind tying for third. On the bars, Berg is tied for 21st in the conference, while Levy is tied with two others for 23rd. Bumbarger's 9.775 this weekend bumped her into 12th place in the conference on the balance beam.

Last week MSU hosted Illinois State in the sixth annual Jan Howard Memorial Flip for the Cure Breast Cancer Awareness meet. Michigan State saw much-improved performances on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise to push the Spartans past the Redbirds 194.400-193.625. MSU swept the uneven bar rotation with career-best performances by Levy (9.875) and Neal (9.775). Michigan State saw two other personal-best performances in senior Alyssa Brennan's 9.775 score in the floor exercise and sophomore Gillian Carr's 9.725 on the vault.

Southeast Missouri enters competition averaging 188.438 on the year. The Redhawks had a weekend off last week, but lost to Illinois State 192.200-186.775 on Jan. 21. Emma Garrett was Southeast Missouri's top performer of the day, finishing with a 9.750 on the vault and a 9.750 on the floor exercise.

Michigan State will finish its three-meet home stance next Saturday (Feb. 11) when it hosts Pittsburgh in the second annual Autism Awareness meet. Competition is slated to begin at 7 p.m. (ET) at Jenison Fieldhouse.



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