March 20, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Coming off its highest score of the season, the Michigan State gymnastics team is set to take on conference foes at the 2014 Big Ten Gymnastics Championships in State College, Pa. Hosted by Penn State University, the Spartans will compete in the first session with Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State on Saturday, March 22 at 12 p.m. inside Rec Hall.
"It will be a high energy environment with lots of exceptional gymnastics," said head coach Kathie Klages. "I expect my team to build upon the Big Ten Quad meet and finish the competition strong. The great performance last weekend has given the team the confidence they need to believe another 196 performance is within reach. It was great to have a house full of Big Ten teams; however, the team focuses on themselves and we didn't really watch much of the other teams. It was great to move up a position from where we were seeded into the Big Ten Quad meet. We also finished the regular season two spots up from last year and that is steady progress. We are excited to see what we can accomplish at the Big Ten Championship."
Big Ten Championship History
The Spartans have 10 individual Big Ten Champions in MSU history, with the last being Chayla Hill on vault in 2006. Michigan State has never won the team conference title. Since the Big Ten sanctioned women's gymnastics in 1982, MSU has finished a program-high second place a total of eight times with the last runner-up finish coming on March 25, 2006 with a score of 194.975.
Last season, MSU placed seventh overall with a score of 195.450, with Taira Neal and Lisa Burt named to the All-Championship team. Kicking off the meet on the floor, the Spartans posted an average of 48.825 led by a 9.825 from Dani Levy. Winning the event in the first session, Neal posted the highest score for MSU on the vault with a 9.900 to help earn a team average of 48.950. Burt tied for second overall on bars with a then-personal-best score of 9.900, leading MSU's team average of 48.900 on the event. In their final rotation, MSU earned a team total of 48.775 on the balance beam, led by a score of 9.850 from Neal.
Last Time Out
The Spartans hosted a Big Ten Quad meet with Nebraska, Illinois and Ohio State on Saturday, finishing third overall with a team total of 196.200. It marks the highest score for MSU since beating New Hampshire 196.350-193.475 on March 9, 2008 and ties the 10th-best score in program history (at LSU on Feb. 29, 2008).
Alina Cartwright and Lisa Burt each posted a 9.900 to lead MSU on the balance beam to a team average of 49.050, tying for its best average on the day. It marked Cartwright's career high and was a season-best score for Burt. The Spartans also earned a score of 49.050 on the bars, their highest on the event this season. The score tied for 25th-best bars score in school history (last vs. Penn State on Feb. 23, 2013). MSU was paced by a season-high 9.875 by Burt, who finished third overall. Dani Levy led the Spartans on the floor, matching her career-best score of 9.875, to help earn a team average of 49.200. Michigan State finished with a team score of 48.900 on the vault, led again by Levy with a 9.850.
In the all-around competition, Burt and Cartwright took third and fourth, respectively. Burt totaled a career-high score of 39.400 on the event, tying for eighth-best all-time (last by Nicole Curler and Kristen Coleman against Arizona on Jan. 12, 2007).
Cartwright Earns First-Team All-Big Ten Honors
Junior Alina Cartwright was voted to the All-Big Ten First-Team, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday. It is the first All-Big Ten recognition for the Naperville, Ill., native, and she is the first Spartan to be named to the first team since assistant coach Nicole Curler earned the honor in 2010.
Named a Big Ten Gymnast to Watch for 2014, Cartwright has been a leader for the Spartans throughout the season. She won the all-around crown in three meets in 2014, and recently notched a career-high score of 39.375 to place fourth at the Big Ten Quad Meet on Saturday. Cartwright has also posted four individual wins on the vault, recording a career-best score of 9.950 against Penn State to tie for third all-time in the MSU record books. Her personal-best score of 9.900 on beam at the Big Ten Quad Meet on Saturday also gave her first-place honors on the event for the third time this season.
MSU in the Rankings
The Spartans are currently tied for 38th in the GymInfo national rankings with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 194.765. MSU is tied for No. 27 with a RQS on the balance beam of 48.880, while the team's floor exercise RQS of 48.930 is tied for 37th. Both scores are also the sixth- and ninth-best, respectively, in the central region.
Individually, Alina Cartwright is seventh in the Big Ten with her all-around RQS of 39.275 and her average score of 9.895 on the vault is tied for 25th in the nation. In the conference, her vault score is tied for the fifth-best average this season and she is seventh in the regional all-around rankings.
Following the Big Ten Championships, the Spartans will await their fate to see if they qualify for the NCAA Regionals on Monday, March 24.