March 1, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State gymnastics will host in-state rival No. 3 Michigan on Saturday, March 2, at 4 p.m. for its final home dual of the season. Last weekend, the Spartans recorded a season-high all-around score of 196.000 despite falling to Penn State on the road.
“We will focus on our team score this weekend and improving our RQS,” said head coach Kathie Klages. We can’t focus on Michigan; we need to focus on our team and what we can do. Monday we came in with a lot of energy and got a lot done. The trip and eight hours on the bus took a lot out of the team with last weekend at Penn State. We are a dynamic vault team and are trying to improve our performance on bars. The mental toughness is starting to come through and that is helping the team develop.”
The Spartans scored highs of the season on uneven bars (49.050), beam (49.050) and floor (49.000). Penn State took the meet with a team score of 196.700.
Senior captain Taira Neal took first on vault with a 9.900 mark. Registering a career-best mark on bars to lead the Spartans was freshman Lisa Burt placing third with a 9.900. Burt also tallied a career-high score of 9.925 on beam to pace MSU. Sophomore Ashley Noll and junior Dani Levy tied for second on floor exercise with a score of 9.850. In the all-around competition, Burt posted a 39.325 to take second, while Cartwright had a 39.075 for third, both are career-high totals.
Watching the Wolverines
No. 3 Michigan took first last weekend at a quad meet at West Virginia. The Wolverines scored their season high of 197.375 against Penn State on Feb. 16, while averaging a 196.975 team score to take first in the Big Ten.
Katie Zurales ranks 22nd in the nation on vault, earning an average score of 9.880. On the unven bars, Joanna Sampson sits at tenth with a 9.880 average, while Samson is third in the nation on floor averaging a 9.920 mark. Wolverines’ Zurales leads the team and places seventh in the nation on bars (9.880) and all-around (39.365).
Michigan leads the Big Ten in all four events. At seventh in the nation, the Wolverines post an average of 49.295 on vault. UM takes fourth on bars (49.245) and beam (49.160) in the national rankings. On the floor exercise, Michigan produces their highest score of 49.365 to take second.
Last season, MSU fell to Michigan 196.025-192.700.
Spartans in the Rankings
In the national rankings, Michigan State ranks 44th with a team average of 193.317. The Spartans have their highest team score of 48.870 on bars, taking 58th in the nation. In other events, the Green and White ranks 32nd on vault (48.745), 31st on the balance beam (48.435) and 44th on floor exercise (48.655).
This weekend’s meet against Michigan also serves as senior night to honor the accomplishments of this year’s graduating class. Taira Neal and Shanthi Teike will both graduate from Michigan State after this season.
“Taira Neal is one of the toughest athletes I have ever worked with at Michigan State,” said head coach Kathie Klages. “She has had four elbow surgeries and the doctors told her she’d be done years ago. She has fought through and had to manage the injuries, so we are really proud of her. She has served as such an asset to the program.”
Neal set a career-best on vault and bars in 2012 of 9.925 and 9.800, respectively. Her 9.925 mark on vault tied her for fifth in the Michigan State record books for individual vault high score. This season, Neal hit a career-high of 9.800 on bars in back-to-back meets.
“Shanthi was highly recruited for MSU and was Big Ten freshman of the week twice,” said Klages. “She was medically disqualified at the end of her sophomore year, but has still been in the gym every day since. She is a great person as well as someone the athletes can talk to. She helps them out every day and we are incredibly lucky to have her.”
Teike set a career-high on vault at the Big Ten Championships in 2010, earning a 9.850. Earlier in the 2010 season, Teike set career-bests on bars (9.800), beam (9.825) and the all-around (39.100). On floor, Teike had her career-best performance at the Big Ten Championships in 2011 as she posted a 9.875.
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 will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.
The Spartans face Pittsburgh on the road Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m.