The Michigan State gymnastics team (1-1-0) hosted the Ohio State Buckeyes (1-1-0) in their first Big Ten meet of the 2020 season at Jenison Field House Saturday night.
The Spartan ladies won the overall meet against the Buckeyes by a -.125 difference. The final board read Michigan State 195.450 to Ohio State 195.325.
They are currently tied for eighth in the nation and second in the Big Ten on beam, averaging 49.100 over their last two meets.
Senior Gabriella Douglas currently sits at eighth in the country and third in the conference among all beam specialists, averaging herself a 9.938.
"I don't know if words can describe (this win) right now because I don't know where in the archives it was the last time we beat Ohio State, but it's been more than five years ago, since I've been here," coach Mike Rowe said regarding the night's victory. "This was huge for us, even if it was by a couple tenths."
The first rotation of the night put MSU on the vault, where they got destroyed as the first three spots for victory were snagged by OSU senior Olivia Aepli at 9.875, OSU sophomore Sydney Jennings at 9.850, and OSU junior Morgan Lowe at 9.800. Rowe said that it was not what they were capable of doing, but they pursued throughout.
The Spartans didn’t hit the board until 4th place in a three-way tie of 9.775 by junior Lea Mitchell, freshman Nyah Smith, and OSU freshman Raina Malas.
The second rotation of the night put MSU on the uneven parallel bars. This event showed huge improvement from last week, where the team endured two falls and lost their chance at victory. Rowe mentioned MSU sophomore Alaina Raybon's performance, from their tri-meet last Saturday, which went viral with four million views on Twitter.
First place came up in another three-way tie, this time through Aepli, OSU sophomore Colby Miller, and Mitchell with a score of 9.875. The next highest score on the bars was fourth-place, at 9.850, which was again a three-way tie, was called between OSU freshman Zoe Schweitzer, OSU senior Nevin Adamski, and MSU freshman Jori Jackard.
The third rotation of the night put MSU on the beam.
"A door opened up evidently on beam and we stepped through it," Rowe said.
Douglas tied first-place with Lowe for a score of 9.825, while Raybon, and OSU freshmen Alexis Hankins and Ella Hodges three-way tied for a score of 9.800.
The fourth and final rotation of the night put MSU on the floor. First-place, in a landslide victory, was Mitchell, who tied her career high with a score 9.925. Second-place was tied two-ways between MSU sophomore Ashley Hofelich and OSU sophomore Claire Gagliardi for a score of 9.900.
In the all-around, Mitchell took home gold with a 39.325.
Rowe has high confidence in his girls and their performances.
"What we've been doing in the gym, they've been starting to do with consistency and competing with consistency," he said. "Some great individual performances tonight and some performances we hadn't seen before. ... We have stars on every event. That's what this team has come down to."
This meet marked the 14th-annual Breast Cancer Awareness – or “Pink” – meet. This is what the Spartan ladies hold in memorial of Jan Howard, mother of alumna gymnast (from 1990-95) and current Director of Student-Athlete Development at Michigan State Angela Montie.
"She lost her mother to breast cancer and we've made it this memorial event to celebrate that and create awareness for the community. Obviously it is a great cause and we just want to keep that going because we're not done with that fight," Rowe said.
The Spartans are scheduled to host the Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-1-0) next Sunday at Jenison Field House in their second Big Ten conference meet. Rowe said the Spartan ladies are "going for it" and they know they're "better than this". He's aiming for 196.00 or higher.