Gymnastics Heads to Iowa for Big Ten Championships
March 23, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State gymnastics team is headed to Iowa City, Iowa to compete in the 2012 Big Ten Championships this weekend. The Spartans will participate in the early session, beginning at 2:05 p.m. ET, on Saturday (March 24) at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Michigan State enters the championships with a 194.840 RQS and 31st national standing. The Spartans are averaging a team score of 193.725 and recorded a season-high 195.550 against Illinois-Chicago (March 2). MSU is looking to get its first team championship in program history and first individual title since 2006.
"The Big Ten Championships will be very exciting because all of the teams are ranked in top 31 in the nation," said head coach Kathie Klage. " We competed at Iowa earlier this year, which is beneficial because we are familiar with the gym and equipment. We are excited about the Big Ten Championships because they will help us prepare for the NCAA Regionals."
Redshirt sophomore Taira Neal has led the Spartans on the vault all year, placing in the event 11 of 12 meets and winning the title nine times. Neal is tied with Nebraska's Jamie Schleppenbach for fifth in the Big Ten with a 9.900 RQS. The Second Team All-Big Ten honoree recorded a career-best 9.925 at Iowa, then tied that mark three times throughout the season.
Leading the team on the uneven bars is senior Jackie Berg. With a 9.845 RQS, Berg is currently tied for seventh in the Big Ten with Brittnee Martinez from Michigan. The Tinely Park, Ill. native tied her career-best 9.875 on the uneven bars at Illinois on Feb. 17.
MSU is posting a 48.615 RQS on the balance beam, which is good enough for seventh in the conference. The highest beam score of the season for the Spartans was a 49.225 at Alaska-Anchorage. Nebraska is leading the Big Ten with a 49.130 RQS on the beam.
Neal is the top Spartan in the Big Ten beam standings with a 9.765 RQS and tie for 25th place. Penn State's Sharaya Musser is atop the conference rankings with a 9.905 RQS.
Sophomore Dani Levy tops the team with a 9.810 RQS in the floor exercise. She is currently tied with two others for 25th in the Big Ten and has recorded a career-best 9.875 in the event at Michigan (March 17).
2011 Big Ten Championship Recap Last year, MSU traveled to Minneapolis, Minn. to participate in the 2011 Big Ten Championships. The Spartans placed seventh as a team (194.425) as Berg earned her 10th top-three bars finish, placing third with a 9.850 mark.
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