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Gymnastics Prepares for Autism Awareness Meet

Sophomore Alina Cartwright leads the Spartans on vault, averaging a score of 9.805.

Feb. 14, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Spartan gymnastics team will take on No. 19 Ohio State at Jenison Field House on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m.  The meet will air live on the Big Ten Network and is Michigan State’s third-annual Autism Awareness Meet.

“I’m hoping that we will build upon the success we had in Iowa this past weekend,” said head coach Kathie Klages.  “I am looking for us to hit 24-for-24, we are definitely improving on some form issues we had.  I think the team feels good about their performance but they know that they can improve even more.  Last weekend, I saw progress and advancement in the routines but there is a lot more to happen to continue the success.”

Looking Back
Last weekend, Michigan State placed second at a tri-meet in Iowa City, Iowa notching its highest final score of the season, 194.850.  Iowa took first as it recorded a 195.875, while UIC finished with a score of 193.225 to take third.

On vault, senior captain Taira Neal and sophomore Alina Cartwright tied for first, both recording a 9.825.  Freshman Lisa Burt earned a 9.800 on uneven bars to lead the Spartans and tie for fifth place.  Cartwright registered a career-high of 9.825 to take second place on the balance beam.  On floor leading the Green and White were Burt, Deans and Noll, tallying a 9.775.  Burt scored 38.925 in all-around to take second overall. 

Observing Ohio State
The Buckeyes scored a season-high of 196.250 in their faceoff against Michigan last weekend.  Ohio State ranks fourth in the Big Ten with an average total score of 195.238. 

Sarah Miller leads the Buckeyes on vault (9.880), balance beam (9.863) and floor (9.883) to rank nationally 15th, 11th and 13th, respectively.  At the top on uneven bars, Colleen Dean posts a 9.825 on average.  In the all-around competition, Melanie Stoffer averages a team-high of 39.046.  



Nationally, Ohio State sits at 19th with an average total score of 195.238. The Buckeyes take fifth in the Big Ten and tie for 19th nationally on vault, averaging an event high of 49.000.  On uneven bars, they rank sixth in the Big Ten and 21st nationally, marking a 48.825 on average.  At fifth in the conference and 20th in the nation, the Buckeyes post a 48.738 on the beam.  Competing on floor, Ohio State compiles a 48.675 average to place sixth in the Big Ten and 36th in the nation. 

Michigan State last saw Ohio State in a dual meet in 2011 as MSU fell 195.200-192.675.  In 2010, the Spartans downed the Buckeyes, 194.575-191.425. 

Spartans in the Rankings
In the national rankings, Michigan State ranks 45th with a team average of 193.130.  The Spartans have their highest team score on vault, 48.655, taking 37th in the nation. In other events, the Green and White ranks 54th on uneven bars (47.810), 40th on the balance beam (48.190) and 43rd on floor exercise (48.475).

Leading the Spartans on vault is sophomore Alina Cartwright, averaging a score of 9.805.  Freshman Lisa Burt fronts MSU on uneven bars (9.670) and all-around (38.575). Senior captain Taira Neal takes 45th in the nation on the balance beam with a 9.800 average.  Freshman Nicola Deans posts a 9.806 on average to lead MSU on floor.

Third Annual Autism Awareness Meet
The team physician, Dr. Larry Nassar, is the founder of the Autism Awareness Meet after presenting the idea to gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages three years ago.  Dr. Nassar’s daughter Caroline has a diagnosis of autism which makes him especially close to the cause.  At the London Olympics Dr. Nassar served as the team physician for Team U.S.A., he also is the founder of the non-profit organization Gymnastic Doctor Autism Foundation.

“We want the people in the public to see the capabilities of children with impairments,” said Dr. Nassar.  “We are able to say that autism is not a problem, but instead a potential.  I started the meet to raise awareness on children with special needs, as my daughter has been diagnosed with autism; I want to help people understand it better.”

Nine local gymnasts who have been diagnosed with autism will be doing a special gymnastics performance prior to Michigan State taking on Ohio State.  Their performance will last from 4:18-4:45p.m. in Jenison Field House. 

“The autism meet is so special to the Michigan State gymnastics team,” said Klages.  “Dr. Larry Nassar has a daughter with autism and he has jumped on the cause.  It’s one of those things that people don’t want to talk about or address.  The meet puts it out there, wide open, and says lets work to help these children.  It’s very exciting to have them perform; it is a joyful and wonderful experience for them and the crowd.  It gives them the attention and puts them on center stage.”

2013 Big Ten Gymnastics Championships
MSU will host the 2013 Big Ten Gymnastics Championships on Saturday, March 23. The meet will be divided into two sessions featuring teams ranked 5-8 at 1 p.m. and 1-4 at 6 p.m. An all session pass can be purchased for $12 for adults and $10 for students, youth and seniors, while single session tickets will be $7 for adults and $5 for students, youth and seniors.  The meet be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.

Next Up
The Spartans will head to University Park, Pa. to face Penn State on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. 

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