Spartans Gymnastics Takes Down No. 3 Michigan in Front of Sellout Crowd

Freshman Nikki Smith earned the all-around title with career-best 39.525
Michigan State University Spartans logo. (MSU Image)
Michigan State University Spartans logo. (MSU Image)(WLUC)
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 10:54 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (MSU Athletics) - Behind the sixth-best score in school history, the No. 14 Michigan State gymnastics team took down No. 3 Michigan, 197.200-196.975 on Alumni Day at a packed Jenison Field House Sunday night.

Michigan State captured its first win against Michigan since winning the State of Michigan Classic on Feb. 3, 2007 in East Lansing. With the win, MSU improves to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten. Michigan is now 4-2 overall and 0-1 in league contests.

“Knowing the tradition of that (Michigan) program, where they have been, where they have come from and what they have done in so many years - to know that we did that tonight is amazing,” said head coach Mike Rowe. “I’m so proud of the girls, my staff, everybody.”

Following the meet, former Spartan gymnasts helped the team celebrate with a post-match ceremony.

Freshman Nikki Smith earned the all-around title with career-best 39.525, which tied associate head coach Nicole (Curler) Jones (2008) and Kristen Coleman (2007) for fifth-best in school history.

The Spartans started strong with a season-high score of 49.400 on vault to capture the even title. The score tied a school record set last season at the NCAA Seattle Regional Finals on April 2, 2022. Nikki Smith won the event title with a career-high 9.950, which was her first vault victory. Sophomore Skyla Schulte finished tied for third with Michigan’s Sierra Brooks with a score of 9.900.

Michigan State edged Michigan on bars 49.250-49.150, another season high for MSU. Junior Delanie Harkness and freshman Olivia Zsarmani, along with U-M’s Abby Heiskell, tied for first on bars with a score of 9.875. Senior JoriJackard and Nikki Smith tied for fourth with matching 9.850 scores. Jackard tied a career high with her 9.875.

As the teams moved to the final two rotations, Michigan State captured a season high on beam with a 49.275. Sophomore Gabrielle Stephen and Michigan’s Natalie Wojcik shared the beam title with a score of 9.900, which was a career high for Stephen. Juniors Baleigh Garcia and Giana Kalefe tied for fourth with matching scores of 9.850. Kalefe’s score was a career best.

With the match tight heading into the final rotation, both teams excelled on floor. The Wolverines edged the Spartans on floor, 49.550-49.275, but MSU was able to hold on for the Victory for MSU. Michigan’s Sierra Brooks captured the win on floor with a 9.950, tying the highest score of the night. Nikki Smith had the highest Spartan score on floor, finishing with a 9.900 to take fourth.

Michigan State is back in action on Sunday, Jan. 29 at Maryland at 1 p.m.

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