April 6, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State gymnastics team will compete in its seventh straight NCAA appearance when it takes part in the 2012 Auburn Regional. Action for the Spartans will begin on Saturday (April 7) at 6 p.m. ET.
"We were really excited to be selected to the Auburn Regional because they are in the Central Region too, so we were able to stay within our regular region," said head coach Kathie Klages. "We are going into the competition with the mentality that it is just another meet and we just have to do our gymnastics. Last year we went in as the sixth seed and finished in third place, so anything can happen at an NCAA Regional."
Michigan State enters the competition with a 194.940 regional qualifying score, which is tied for 32nd in the nation. The Spartans are averaging a team score of 193.798 and recorded a season-high 195.550 against Illinois-Chicago (March 2). MSU will participate in its 15th overall NCAA appearance as the sixth seed in the Auburn Regional and will be competing against Michigan, Georgia, Oregon State, West Virginia and host Auburn.
Michigan State currently ranks 31st in the country on the vault with an RQS of 48.860. MSU posted its season-high score of 49.175 at Alaska-Anchorage (March 11), which is tied for fifth in school history for highest team vault score.
Redshirt sophomore Taira Neal has led the Spartans on the vault all year, placing in the event 11 of 13 meets and winning the title nine times. Neal, who is posting a 9.900 RQS, is fifth in the Central Region and tied for 21st in the nation on the vault. The Second Team All-Big Ten honoree recorded a career-best 9.925 at Iowa (Jan. 13), then tied that mark three times throughout the season.
With a 48.830 RQS on the uneven bars, the Spartans are tied for 33rd nationally in the event. MSU is averaging a 48.525 score and recorded its best score of the year when it tabbed a 49.075 at home vs. Illinois-Chicago (March 2).
Leading the team on the uneven bars is senior Jackie Berg. With a 9.845 RQS. the Tinley Park, Ill. native is currently tied for 49th nationally and 11th regionally, while Auburn's Kat Ding is the top gymnast in the country with a 9.935 RQS. Berg tied her career-best 9.875 on the uneven bars at Illinois on Feb. 17.
MSU is posting a 48.690 RQS on the balance beam, which is good enough for 32nd in the country. The highest beam score of the season for the Spartans was a 49.225 at Alaska-Anchorage (March 11)
Sarena Bumbarger leads Michigan State on the balance beam with a 9.780 RQS. The sophomore is tied for 24th in the Central Region and recorded a personal-best 9.925 at Alaska-Anchorage (March 11). Oregon State's Leslie Mak is tied for first in the nation on the beam with a 9.930 RQS.
Michigan State ranks 49th in the country and 10th in the Central Region in the floor exercise with an RQS of 48.710. The Spartans notched the top score of the year in the floor exercise vs. Illinois State (Jan. 28) with a 48.975.
Sophomore Dani Levy is the top Spartan in the floor exercise, recording an RQS of 9.835. She is currently tied for 16th in the Central Region and tied her career-best 9.875 in the event at Michigan (March 17).
Levy is the only gymnast to compete in the all-around for MSU this year, posting a 38.625 RQS. The New Port Richey, Fla. native tied her personal-high 39.125 in the all-around at home vs. UIC (March 2).
2011 NCAA Regional Recap
Last year, MSU tied its program-best finish when they took home third place at the NCAA Corvallis Regional in Corvallis, Ore. Levy was Michigan State's top individual performance as she placed fifth overall on the floor with a personal-best 9.875 score.
The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Duluth, Ga. on April 20-22, hosted by Georgia Tech University.