Thursday, February 2, 2023

Preview: MSU gymnastics to take on Michigan in home opener

January 22, 2023
All-around freshman Skyla Schulte on the balance beam at the meet against Michigan on January 30, 2022, at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. The Spartans lost to the Wolverines 197.925 to 196.775.
All-around freshman Skyla Schulte on the balance beam at the meet against Michigan on January 30, 2022, at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. The Spartans lost to the Wolverines 197.925 to 196.775. —
Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

The season started on Jan. 6 for the No. 14 ranked Michigan State gymnastics team (1-1), but the Spartans are back home Jan. 22 for their home opener against No. 3 Michigan (4-1).

This season, the Spartans received their highest Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association preseason ranking (12) since 2000—which is not surprising given the record-breaking season MSU had last year.

Michigan State set program records for every single event in 2022, and ended the season ranked ninth in the nation—a program high.

To start off the 2023 season, two Spartans received Big Ten Gymnast to watch accolades—freshman Nikki Smith and sophomore captain Gabi Stephen. Smith garnered national attention after videos of her energetic floor routine during her first meet made their way online. The two-time USA Gymnastics Development Program all-around champion kicked off her collegiate career with a 9.850 on floor and topped it last weekend with a 9.900.

Stephen was named Big Ten freshman of the week on three occasions last year and earned Big Ten first-team honors to close out the season.

MSU kicked off their 2023 season in Tuscaloosa where they narrowly lost to No. 7 Alabama 196.550-196.975. Despite the loss, the Spartan total was the highest season-opening score in program history.

The following weekend, the team traveled to Raleigh for a battle against NC State on Jan. 14. After trailing in the first two rotations, the Spartans pulled off a stellar third rotation on floor to overtake the Wolfpack and win the meet 196.400-196.375.

This weekend, the Spartans will be looking to outperform their rivals in what could amount to be another record-breaking season.

In the team’s last meeting against Michigan, the Wolverines came out victorious, outscoring the Spartans 197.925-196.775. However there were still some stand-out performances from the Spartans. Last year in Ann Arbor, then sophomore, Baleigh Garcia took the beam title with a 9.925, and then freshman Skyla Schulte placed third in the all-around with a 39.350.

Michigan State is set to take on Michigan on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Jenison Field House. The meet will also be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network.

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