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MSU gymnastics defeats No. 3 Michigan for the first time since 2007

January 23, 2023
<p>Freshman Nikki Smith celebrates after her vault during a meet against University of Michigan, held at Jenison Field House on Jan. 22, 2023. The Spartans upset the No. 3 ranked Wolverines with 197.200 points.</p>

Freshman Nikki Smith celebrates after her vault during a meet against University of Michigan, held at Jenison Field House on Jan. 22, 2023. The Spartans upset the No. 3 ranked Wolverines with 197.200 points.

Photo by Jack Patton | The State News

The No. 14 Michigan State gymnastics team defeated No. 3 Michigan in a Sunday night battle at Jenison Field House. For the first time since 2007, the Spartans came out of their in-state rivalry meet victorious with a score of 197.200-196.975.

Michigan State started off their meet against the Wolverines on vault, and the Spartans did not disappoint. Vault turned out to be MSU’s highest-scoring rotation, with five Spartans scoring over 9.800 for a whopping total score of 49.400.

Freshman Nikki Smith kicked off her first home meet as a Spartan with a bang. Smith finished her vault with a stuck landing that made the packed house go wild. She scored a whopping 9.950 and won first place in the event.

The Wolverines made their start on the uneven parallel bars, and despite their impressive 49.125, Michigan was down to close out the first rotation.

The Spartans moved onto the uneven bars to start their second rotation.

Shortly after she started, sophomore Skyla Schulte had to drop down from the bars and restart her routine, resulting in a deduction and a 9.325 score. Despite having to restart, Schulte remained calm and collected and found a way to recover.

Fortunately for Michigan State, the rest of the uneven bars lineup was not shaken up by the misstep and was ready to perform. The remaining five Spartans all put up scores above 9.800 to give them a running total score of 98.650.

Three gymnasts tied for first place on the uneven bars—Michigan’s Abby Heiskell, Michigan State freshman Olivia Zsarmani and junior Delanie Harkness.

Michigan simultaneously had a solid performance on vault, but their 98.500 total score was not quite enough to edge Michigan State out of the lead.

MSU moved over to the balance beam to kick off the third rotation and had strong performances all around, with every gymnast scoring over 9.825.

Sophomore Gabrielle Stephen had a standout performance topped off with a stuck landing to send the crowd and her teammates into a frenzy. Stephen scored a 9.900 and shared first place in beam with Michigan’s Natalie Wojcik.

The Wolverines took to the floor in the third round and really lit up Jenison. Michigan had five of six gymnasts score above a 9.875, and for the first time in the meet, the Spartans fell behind the Wolverines. 

Going into the final rotation on the floor, the Spartans found themselves down 148.050-147.952. They needed to go big, and they absolutely did.

It was one strong performance after another for the Spartans, and Smith had the crowd going wild for her energetic floor routine. The freshman had so much height on each of her tumbling passes that it looked like she was flying. She managed to score a 9.900.

On the other side of Jenison, Michigan was competing on the balance beam for their final rotation.

Despite some really strong overall performances, the Wolverines were plagued by small missteps that lost them points.
Two Michigan gymnasts lost their footing on the beam and bobbled to remain upright, and another fell completely. All three gymnasts were able to right themselves and continue on with their routines.

After both teams finished their last rotations, the final scores rolled in, and Michigan State regained the lead by .225 to win the meet, ultimately defeating their rivals 197.200-196.975.

With all four rotations completed, Smith was crowned the all-around champion with a score of 39.525.

Michigan State will travel to College Park next Sunday, Jan. 29 to take on Maryland at 1 p.m. The meet will also be streaming on BTN+.

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