What looked to be a close match turned unfortunate for the MSU gymnastics team when they played No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday at Jenison Field House.
Spartans held the lead after the first rotation, 48.600-48.375, but following the second rotation, the Spartans trailed by 0.375. After a few falls on the beam and floor events, the team fell behind two points ultimately losing, 192.625-194.325.
“There were some glimpses of greatness throughout the competition, but our team is just not able to keep it together on the competition floor,” head coach Kathie Klages said.
“(The number) of falls that we had is just unacceptable. I’m going to put more pressure on the kids in practice and just try to get them to really focus and do what they know they’re capable of doing. They’re a very talented team, they’re just not very confident in this point in time.”
In its previous meet, Minnesota beat then-top-ranked Michigan in a quad meet, recording a season 196.8 — the fourth highest team score of all time.
“(The meet) went okay, but it could have gone better,” team captain and senior Taira Neal said. “We had an opportunity to beat Minnesota because they messed up on a couple events so (next time) we just need to seize our opportunities.”
MSU freshman Lisa Burt, a member of Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch preseason list, struggled Friday as she recorded two uncharacteristic falls.
“We all have our bad meets and unfortunately for me it was this one”, Burt said. “(But) after bars and floor I knew that I had done (a good job) and that my scores had counted. I felt like I had helped my team out.”
Burt said the team could benefit from doing some inner-squads in practice and try to create a meet-like setting, which she said would allow them to feel as though they are in a competition-like environment.
“Somehow we have to build on the performances in practice because they look really good during practice,” Klages said. “They’re a really young team, but that’s not an excuse. They have been competing their whole lives”
Despite team struggles in the vault discipline, Neal led the way for the event, finishing first with a score of 9.85.
Nicola Deans, also a member of Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch preseason list, tied her career-best score of 9.775 on vault, which earned her fourth place in the competition.
Alina Cartwright and Neal performed well on bars, both landing with a smile. Kate Filosi and Deans both fell, but were able to pull through when they got back on.
“When you start on vault with a fall and then [the] other five kids come through, that’s a real positive thing,” Klages said. “I think that though we counted a fall on bars, we still saw massive improvement on that which was a real positive. There’s still a ton of work to be done.”
The Spartans struggled on the balance beam with two falls and a final score of 47.725 . The Golden Gophers recorded a score of 48.825 on beam, their top score coming from Shannon Golich with an average score of 9.85.
This match was the Jan Howard Breast Cancer Awareness Meet in honor of Jan Howard , the mother of a former Spartan gymnast Angela Howard Montie . This has been a tradition since 2007.
Before the competition began, breast cancer survivors were recognized with flowers by the gymnasts. Later, a student speaker discussed her experience with breast cancer and how it eventually led to the loss of her mother. She encouraged people to take her story as inspiration to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The Spartans will look to get back on track against Iowa at 8.p.m. on Feb. 8 in Iowa City, Iowa.