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Beyond The Beam

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Well, the Big Ten Championships are now over. The Spartans came away with a fourth place finish which is a much improved placement from last year. MSU received a great draw for rotations, the best as a matter of fact. We started on the bye before vault. Since there are seven teams in the Big Ten, the rotation order is as followed; Bye 1, Vault, Bars, Bye 2, Beam, Bye 3, Floor. As you can see this is a long meet, but it usually goes by rather quickly.

Vault is a strong event for the Spartans and we were excited to begin the competition on this event. We finished vault with a team score of a 48.625. I would have to say that this event, which is usually very strong for us, was a little shy. In a tie for fourth place, Rochelle Robinson was our highest vaulter of the day with a 9.85. We moved onto bars which was our best event of the day with a team total of a 49.00. Megan Bergland and Nicole Heikkila started us off with great scores of 9.8. Nicole Argiros kept that momentum going adding to the team total a 9.825. Katlyn Roggensack also brought a respectable 9.725 to the table. Once again, Rochelle Robinson, finished up the bar line-up with our highest score, a 9.85.

Moving onto the next event, which was beam. After last year's performance on beam at Big Ten's, we were focused on staying on the beam and that we did. It was a little shaky up there but we stayed on the beam. Kelsey Morley anchored our line-up producing a near flawless routine scoring a 9.875. Kelsey kicked some butt tying for second in the Big Ten on balance beam! It was time to rotate to our last event and finish up the competition strong. We started off with a great routine by Kelly Moffitt who posted a 9.725. The scores were pretty consistent throughout floor as we ended with Emily Lopatofsky and Rochelle Robinson. Emily scored a 9.8 and Rochelle scored a 9.85.

Now that the Big Ten's have come and gone, it is time to prepare for Regionals. For the first time in MSU history, the Spartans are seeded. This means that the Spartans are ranked in the top 18 and the top 18 teams will move around the country to different Regionals. This is a very exciting feat for us and we are excited to be in this position. The NCAA Regional that MSU will attend is the West Region hosted by Oregon State. The teams that will be at this site are Oregon State, Michigan State, Michigan, Washington, Sacramento State and San Jose State. We have two weeks to continue training for Regionals which will be held on April 12th at 9 p.m. Until then...



Thursday, March 27, 2008

Our regular competition season concluded at the University of Arkansas this past Friday night. The meet proved to be a challenge as it was a team building, confidence building and character building experience. Our team had to adapt to filling in for a teammate that had gotten injured during warm-up. Sophomore Nicole Curler sprained both ankles while warming up for floor. She will be fine, and in time will be back to competitive gymnastics, which may be this season or we may have to wait until next year to see her in action again.

If there is one thing that dampens my spirit, it is seeing a hard working, dedicated and goal-oriented athlete injured, especially as the championship part of the season is upon us. Over the past several weeks, there have been many gymnastics teams around the country that have been plagued with the injury bug. I thought we were safe from the bug this year, but I guess I didn't knock on wood hard enough. As much as we hate injuries and seeing athletes dreams and hopes taken away, there is always a lesson to be learned. We may not understand what we are suppose to learn, but in due time it becomes evident.

All for one and one for all...that is the approach our team chose to take from Friday night until the postseason concludes. There is a great deal of team unity among this Spartan team. They are excited to step up and meet their goals in the postseason. Hit 24 for 24! Enjoy and have fun! And concentrate on the Process, NOT the Outcome! Those are the goals... positive, focused and doing the job that they know how to do.

This Saturday, March 29, we will challenge for the Big Ten Conference Championship title. If we achieve the above goals, then we are "Champions."

Until next time...

Go Spartans!!!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A lesson is learned in each and every competition and we learned a very valuable one in Auburn. A gymnast can only control her performance; not the score she receives for that performance. We were disappointed with the overall team score at Auburn but proud of the job the team did. We had close to our best team floor performance of the season! Individually, Rochelle Robinson took first on vault and shared the title with an Auburn gymnast on bars and floor. Nicole Curler tied for third on bars and Kelsey Morley tied for third on beam. This team forged on under stressful situations and showed how resilient they can be. We were very pleased with their focus, attitude and performance!

We have had a good two days of practice and continue to press the gymnasts to focus on the details of each routine. We are excited to get on the competition floor once again to show what this team is made of. We look forward to the championship season which begins on March 29th at the Big Ten Championships. These will be held at Michigan, in Ann Arbor, at 2 p.m. We will then await our placement for the NCAA Regional Championships. Presently, we are ranked No. 15 and the NCAA seeds the top 18 teams. So at this point in time, we have no idea where we will be heading for regionals. It is exciting because since the inception of NCAA seeding, we have not finished the regular season in the top 18. So as we head to Arkansas, the goal is to perform well enough to help our RQS keep us in the top 18.

Go Green!! Go White!! Go Spartans!!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ten...Ten...Ten...Ten, filled the arena after senior Rhiannon Banda-Scott finished her vault! The team came running down to Rhiannon and as we turned to look at the score, Jenison Field House erupted with cheer. Rhiannon Banda-Scott scored a perfect 10.0, the second one in MSU Gymnastics History! What a way to start off our last home meet of the season. Sophomore Rochelle Robinson, who was the first to record a perfect 10.0 also on the vault, has someone to share the spotlight with!

This was such an emotional day for the MSU Spartans with it being the last home meet of the season and our senior meet. We have three seniors on our team: Megan McNally, Bethany Little and Rhiannon Banda-Scott. These three young ladies have all had a fantastic journey at Michigan State University as both a gymnast and a student. Unfortunately, Megan and Bethany were unable to finish out the season due to career ending injuries. Therefore, Rhiannon was our only senior competing in this final meet. Thank you to our seniors who have committed so much to this program!

Back to the meet...We started off with a bang on vault, not only with a perfect score but also a fantastic total score with a 49.25. Emily Lopatofsky competed a new vault this week and landed herself a career high of a 9.825. The team and audience were so pumped up as we carried the adrenaline over to bars. We started bars with Megan Bergland who had a solid performance. We had a fall early on in the line-up but that didn't stop these determined Spartans. Rochelle Robinson finished the event for us with a career high of a 9.875! We moved on to the balance beam continuing to keep the drive going. Rhiannon was our lead off who had a great routine. Following her routine we had fall on our hands. But don't you worry; the rest of the line-up remained calm and got the job done. Our beam total score was a 48.9. It was on to our last event, floor, where we rocked the house. Our Spartans know how to dazzle the crowd with their fun and unique routines. Once again, Emily Lopatofsky shined her way to a personal best with a 9.9! We finished this competition with a bang scoring a season high of 196.35. Rochelle Robinson was our only all-around competitor and she had a spectacular performance earning her a career high of 39.325.

For the first time in Spartan history, we scored a 196 three times in a row. We as coaches are so proud of this group of young women. The way this team has become unified is just amazing to me! We are headed to warmer climate this weekend and out to get our fourth 196 or higher. We will be competing at Auburn University on Friday night at 8 p.m. Look online for the live stats as we are ready to keep this positive momentum going!

Go Green!! Go White!! Go Spartans!!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hello Spartan Fans,

Confidence, confidence, confidence!!! That is the key component to any great team, along with talent of course. The Spartans shined this past weekend as we scored two scores of 196, only the second time in Spartan history that the team has scored back to back scores of 196! Wow! The preparation for the long weekend was exactly what this team needed to feel confident and ready to take on the No. 8 (LSU) team in the country on the road and then come home to take on two unranked teams (WMU & Ball State). We were diligent, precise, and had quality turns in the gym in preparation for the weekend. The team was focused and ready to take on the challenge set before them.

The one thing that was evident to me as the weekend progressed was the incredible amount of confidence that exuded from each and every team member. They were finally putting together a much needed element to challenge for a top 18 ranking in this sport, self and team confidence. We had a great time, not worrying about the competition, but only enjoying our own performance. The weekend came to a close on Sunday at home with a victory not only on the competition floor, but in the hearts and heads of 17 young women.

This coming weekend will be our last home competition of the 2008 season. We will be honoring our three seniors (Rhiannon Banda-Scott, Bethany Little & Megan McNally) as they don the Green & White for one last time in front of their Spartan Family. Please join us at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 9 as we play host to the University of New Hampshire.

Until next time...

Go Green, Go White, Go Spartans!!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Our trip to Iowa proved to be quite interesting! First glitch in the process was me, the head coach, forgetting the floor music and having to turn around to get it. It cost us 45 minutes extra time on the bus. That really makes a difference when you are on a bus for a 7 hour trip. Now, the University of Illinois was also at this competition. They had originally planned to go to Northern Illinois but that meet was cancelled due to the shooting tragedy. We told them where we were staying and they made room reservations on Wednesday. When we arrived at the hotel, the clerk handed me their reservations. I explained that we were MSU and not Illinois.....and then the clerk stated that they had no reservations for us. Now, we had a signed contract for 9 doubles and 3 kings. They could put us up in king rooms with pull out sofa sleepers but all of their doubles were gone. So, Randy had to get feisty and tell them that they had better find us the rooms, and give us a better rate! After dinner, they had miraculously found us what we needed. Great start to the trip!

Nikki Argiros had a sprained hamstring so she did not compete bars nor vault this week. She is still sore and will be out for the LSU meet too. Katlyn Roggensack actually smacked her finger into the bar on practice on Friday and split open her finger. We did not compete her on bars or floor. It is great to have gymnasts waiting in the wing to be able to fill in when things like this happens. The meet began on bars and the team held back.....we hit 6 for 6 but missed handstands, did not stick landings, and had a gymnast hit her foot on the bar on her release. We talked to the team about being aggressive throughout the remainder of the meet....and they did just that! We had a fabulous vault rotation winning the event as a team and Rochelle Robinson took first, again! Floor proved to be another strong event with only a .1 deduction for out of bounds on one gymnast. We finished the meet on beam, just like Illinois I said we could make a comeback, as Iowa had the lead going into the last rotation. We had a good beam set but counted some big wobbles. Katlyn Roggensack tied for first on this event. We took second behind Iowa and outscored Illinois. So, even though we scored our second highest score of the season, we knew we still had many areas to improve upon. I believe this team is a 196 team and we see that type of performance in the gym daily. We just need to get them to be aggressive on all four events and prove to everyone that they are a 196 team! With that said, I want to state how proud we are of this team and the way they have handled adversity. They work together, support each other, and are truly A TEAM!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wow...What a meet!! The Spartans struggled a little on their first event which was bars. Moving on to the vault we were behind by .6. We were able to handle the pressure that we placed upon ourselves and perform vault like we know how. This team is so unique and display exceptional qualities. After our vault performance we closed the gap a small margin, but we were not out of the woods yet. The team pulled together without us coaches and a change was evident on the next two events. The team showed some determination throughout the remainder of the competition and proved why we are one of the top ranked Big Ten teams!

The floor line-up dazzled the judges and crowd with their fun and creative floor routines. The momentum started to swing our way as soon as the first girl started. We had two athletes upgrade their difficulty in their floor routines. Kathryn Mahoney and Emily Lopatofsky competed with two double backs in their routines. Wait until you see these girls tumble!!

You have heard the coaching staff mention once or twice about the dreaded beam, well it was our last event of the night and it was a great event to end on for the Spartans. The momentum we built from floor carried over to beam and we rocked this final event. Rhiannon Banda-Scott was in the lead off position and came out with a career high score of 9.825. Kelly Moffitt and Nicole Curler tied for second with a 9.875 and freshman Kelsey Morley won the event with a 9.9. These were also Kelly and Kelsey's career high scores on beam!

I was so proud of the way our team persevered and handled the pressure. This team has heart and loves what they do. Each and every day we are working hard to accomplish our goals and make this the best season in MSU history! Until next time...Always do what you're doing out of love, not changes the end result A LOT!



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It is so awesome to see the hard work pay off! The team really concentrated on the little things during practices prior to this last meet. Hitting handstands, sticking dismounts, better form and solid beam landings. In addition, we decided to rest Nicole Curler from as many events as we could for this meet. She did not even train on floor exercise the entire week. She competed on vault as a last minute replacement, did an exhibition bar routine, and competed beam. This created an opportunity for us to utilize some different line ups and experiment with lead off and anchor people. All of the gymnasts did an outstanding job as we hit 24 for 24 routines. With the exhibitions, we hit 27 for 28 routines. The team is realizing that it is just that.....a team that can rely on others to get the job done.

We had six outstanding vaults with a career high of 9.925 from Rhiannon. Kelsey, Emily, Nicole and Nikki had season high scores. We looked great on this event. Moving on to bars, we managed to take the five top spots on this event. However, our high score was a 9.775 from Emily, showing that improvement can be made by all. We still missed some handstands and took steps on dismounts, but showed an overall improvement. We welcomed Bethany Little back into the bar line up after a long absence due to a foot injury. She hit her bar routine and stuck her dismount and brought tears to my eyes. It is so rewarding to see her compete again. Beam was awesome as seven of the eight girls hit. We switched this line up around quite a bit and we were very pleased with the outcome. Nicole had her highest score of the season with a 9.9 and won the event. Kelsey continues to hit with so few balance errors, she is amazing! Ro was our lead off and tied her career high of 9.8. Katlyn also scored a 9.8, a season high for her too. Floor, the event we have struggled on the last two meets, proved to be a highlight this meet. We worked hard on building confidence on this event during practices and it paid off with a season high 48.825 team score. And, I believe there is still room for lots of improvement on this event.

We are striving to upgrade some difficulty in our routines this week. We continue to work on the little things to improve our overall team score. We are FINALLY going to leave the state of Michigan for a competition this weekend as we travel to the University of Illinois. So far, all of our away meets have been in the state of Michigan with one at the University of Michigan and one at Eastern Michigan. The team is excited to travel and welcome the challenge of competing on the road!

Go Green!! Go White!! Go Spartans!!

Kathie Klages

Monday, January 28, 2008

Leading up to last week's meet, the team focused on primarily one event. I bet you can guess what that was...that's right, the balance beam! Since our first two competitions were not as successful as we'd hoped they would be on this event, we decided that we needed to spend some extra TLC with the beam. We practiced some pressure routines and rearranged the line up to find the best possible outcome. Well it worked - we had seven hit routines out of eight. We definitely made a considerable improvement on the balance beam event! I was very proud of the way the team took on the event in practice and transferred their energy to the competition.

As a coaching staff we are very pleased with the progress they have been making each week. Our team score has improved on average one full point with each competition. Now, that tells you what this team is made of! There will be some gymnasts returning from injury making their way back to the line-up very soon. This will make it a fierce competition in practice for the line-up spots.

As I mentioned before, we improved our team total score by .95. Rhiannon Banda-Scott earned two career highs on the beam and floor with a 9.7 and 9.8, respectively. Banda-Scott tied for second on vault with a 9.85. Kelsey Morley competed on vault bringing back an "old school" vault; a full twist on - one and half twist off. Rochelle Robinson and Katlyn Roggensack tied for fifth place on bars with a 9.8. Nicole Curler was successful again on beam receiving a 9.85. Roggensack, also solid on the beam, scored a 9.8. Our top performer on the floor was Curler placing third with a 9.85. The individual accomplishments are great and well deserved. I am very proud of the way the team stayed together throughout the entire competition. When a mistake was made, it did not faze them. For the freshman, this was the largest crowd they had competed in front of with almost 4,000 in attendance.

We are back in the gym working on those little details to improve our score once again this weekend at the State of Michigan Classic. We will compete against all schools in Michigan that sponsor gymnastics. These teams include Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, and your Spartans of Michigan State University.

Let's Go State!!



Friday, January 25, 2008

What a difference a week makes ... well most of the time. In our case we improved about 50% from the week before. We increased our team score on vault and bars, but found ourselves struggling once again on the dreaded balance beam. The one thing that stands out in my mind is that there was a vast difference in the team chemistry this past weekend. Our team finally showed the potential for greatness that we see every day in practice. They meshed, they fought together and fell together as a team. Now, if we can keep them on the beam together that would be a huge step. As a coach, I often wonder what I could have done differently to help the individual compete better, perform better or just plain stay on the equipment. That is a question still to be answered, but as I wake up every morning at 4 a.m. thinking of things that could potentially help the team overall, I know ultimately it is within their reach, we just have to find the right path for each individual.

We had our second "W" for this very young season. Nicole Curler had her second all-around win for the season with a season high of 39.15 and also won floor with a 9.775. Sophomore Rochelle Robinson won the vault for the second week in a row with a 9.85. Sophomore Emily Lopatofsky got her first collegiate win on the bars tying teammate Rochelle Robinson with a 9.8. And freshmen Kelsey Morley won her first collegiate title, winning balance beam with a 9.875. So, as you can see, we had some incredible results and have the potential to show greatness.

This wonderful sport of gymnastics is a mental game 90% of the time. We have two great sports psychologists that work with our team on a bi-weekly basis. That work is paying off, and I hope that this team can continue down the road, believing that they are a great team. After our first meet, with very dismal results, an MSU fan came up to me and simply said to me, "This team is special, they could go far." I thought this was a great word
to associate with this team. There are great athletes on this team, with the work ethic, heart, discipline and
desire to take MSU some where "special." We are headed in the right direction, which is up and forward, climbing the mountain. We hope to "peak" at the most appropriate time this season. The way I look at it, we are on a journey with a road we are paving along the way.

We continue down the road this Saturday night as we head to the University of Michigan for a dual competition. The meet begins at 6 p.m. in Crisler Arena and we hope to see a great deal of Green and White in the stands.

Until next time...

Go Green, Go White, Go Spartans!!!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Well, we have the first meet out of the way. And we did experience some first meet jitters! Though we secured a win, it was not very pretty.

We began on vault with all six of our gymnasts making their vaults. We have four vaults with a 10.0 start value, one with a start of 9.9, and one with a start value of 9.8. We had some rough landings, but all in all were pleased with our 48.575 team score on this event. We moved on to bars where our lead off person had a fall. We then had four hit routines with some errors on the landings of the dismounts. Our anchor had some timing issues and looked like she was in fast motion after her huge Tkachev. Though she fought and managed to not have a fall, her score was only a 9.4. So bars was weaker than we expected but we still managed a 48 on this event. Then came the dreaded balance beam event. We are very prepared on this event and believe it is one of our best events. However, it was NOT on this night. We had four falls and only managed a 46.975 team score. The team score was narrowing at this point and we needed to perform on floor to secure the win. We had five out of six routines on their feet and the team scored a 48.425 on this event to secure a 192.025 total team score. Western Michigan scored a 190.325 so we managed to pull ahead on floor to a comfortable point spread for the win.

Nicole Curler had an outstanding first meet of the season securing a win on the bars (9.75), beam (9.825), floor exercise (9.85) and the all around (39.025). A great start to the season! Rochelle Robinson won the vault event (9.85).

Our next home meet is Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. against the University of Pittsburgh. It is our second annual Jan Howard Memorial Flip for a Cure Breast Cancer Awareness meet. We will be conducting a silent auction during the competition with various MSU items for auction. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. You can get into the event for free if you wear PINK. Michigan State Gymnasts will be wearing pink leotards to commemorate this exciting event. We hope to see you all there!!


Kathie Klages
Head Coach

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