MSU takes 7th in Big Ten Championships

Despite finishing near the bottom of the conference, the MSU gymnastics team kept its NCAA hopes alive at the Big Ten Championships at Jenison Field House on Saturday.

MSU posted a 195.45 during the championships, placing seventh at the event, which included eight teams. Nebraskatook first place, with a score of 197.8.

MSU will have to wait until 2 p.m. to find out whether or not its score is high enough to bump the Spartans into the top 36 in the country, which would qualify them for the NCAA Regionals.

Heading into the meet, head coach Kathie Klages said she wanted the team to record a 196 score but still is happy with the team’s efforts.

“I’m really excited about how the team performed today,” Klages said. “I thought they did an awesome job and left it all out there on the floor today, so I couldn’t be prouder.”

MSU scored highest in the vault discipline, with a team score of 48.95, and placed fifth. Senior captain Taira Neal led the team with a team-high 9.9 on vault and placed eighth in the event.

MSU also experienced success in the uneven bars event behind freshman Lisa Burt’s 9.9, matching her career high, with the team posting an overall 48.9. Burt was the only Spartan to place in a top six for any of the events, tying for second place in the uneven bars. The team score was the second highest in the discipline on the season.

Burt’s 9.9 score drew tears of joy from the freshman, something she said she had never done before.

“Actually, I’ve never cried after a routine because it was good,” Burt said of her uneven bars routine. “It was really exciting, and I had a lot of fun going through doing my routine, and when I landed, I knew I had done a good job.”

The Spartans registered 48.825 and 48.775 in the floor exercise and balance beam disciplines. Junior Dani Levy led the team with a 9.825 on the floor, and Neal boasted the top beam score for the Spartans at 9.85.

“The most success we had tonight was probably on bars because that is our weaker event, and they performed like troopers on that event, so that would be the event that I would probably be most proudest of,” Klages said.

Sophomore Alina Cartwright ranked 11th against the competition in the all around, with a score of 39.125. Cartwright’s best discipline was vault, where she put up a 9.85 score.

Neal and Burt were recognized for their strong efforts at the Big Ten Championship meet and were selected as All-Championship team members.

“Last year I had a really good Big Ten Championships, too, but this was definitely one of my best,” Neal said. “Well, it was my best so it was definitely good to end on a good note at home.”

After what many on the team consider a strong showing, Burt is confident the team is going to move onto regionals but doesn’t consider falling short of such would ruin the whole season.

“I think we’ll make it, maybe barely, but I think we might slide in there. It just depends really on what the other teams do this weekend. We’re just hoping for the best,” Burt said. “I think we went out with such a bang here tonight that it would be sad if we weren’t able to go but I don’t think it would damper the
whole season.”

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