Feb. 23, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State Gymnastics team will return to East Lansing to host Ball State on Friday (Feb. 24). Competition between the Spartans and the Cardinals is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in the Jenison Field House.
"Tying a team that is ranked 18th in the country last weekend has given us the confidence to move forward," said head coach Kathie Klages. "This week we are hosting Ball State and I am confident that my team will perform well once again. Hopefully, they have gotten over the hump of having numerous falls on various events. We are continuing to strive to move our rankings up to get a bid to the NCAA Regional Championship."
Michigan State is averaging a 193.118 overall score and sits in 39th place nationally. The highest mark for MSU is on the vault with a 48.693, which is 28th in the country. The Spartans are also posting a 48.332 on the uneven bars (38th) and 48.518 in the floor exercise (33rd).
Redshirt sophomore Taira Neal is leading MSU on the vault with a 9.864 average. She is currently ranking 33rd in the nation, eighth in the central region and ninth in the Big Ten. Alina Cartwright is the top Spartan on the uneven bars averaging 9.744, she currently sits in 22nd place regionally and 19th in the conference. Averaging a 9.713, the freshman is also leading the team on the balance beam. She ranks 19th in the conference and 15th regionally in the event. Senior Jackie Berg is currently the No. 1 Spartan in the floor exercise with a 9.732 average.
MSU brought home the Victory Plank for the first time since it's inception in 2010 with a season-high 195.175 score and a tie with No. 18 Illinois last Friday (Feb. 17).
The Spartans seemed to overcome their balance beam woes as they posted the best score of the year in any event with a 49.000 team score on the beam. Four Spartans beat or tied their personal-best in the competition, including Berg (9.875, bars), Neal (9.925, vault), sophomore Sarena Bumbarger (9.875, beam) and sophomore Alex Pace (9.725, floor exercise).
Ball State enters the weekend with a 191.018 average and a 193.425 season-high score against Eastern Michigan last week. The highest team score for the Cardinals is on the uneven bars with a 48.221 average. Kayla Kmiecik is posting a 9.788 average score and leads Ball State in the event. On the vault, Nicole Allen is the top Cardinal with a 9.746 average score. Aftyn Siemer leads the team on the balance beam with a 9.505 tally and in the floor routine with a 9.707 average.
The Spartans will close out their home season next Friday (March 2) when they host Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. The meet will be MSU's Senior Night and senior gymnasts will be honored for their accomplishments.