The No. 35 ranked Spartans dropped their second straight match Friday night in their home opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes. It was just their second match of the season, losing 194.9-192.575, and dropping them to 0-2.
The arena hosted not only the Gymnastics meet, but also the Spartan Wrestling meet against Purdue, paired together in the first annual “Tumbles & Takedowns” event.
When head coach Kathie Klages was asked on her outlook after tonight’s match, she remained positive that her girls are not in trouble. “There is not a kid out on the floor tonight that doesn’t do their routine perfectly in the practice gym.”
A strong performance in the first rotation for the Spartans at the vault kicked off what looked to be a tight match, but the 48.475 score was overmatched by the highest rotation total of the night, Iowa’s 48.900 total from the uneven bars. This was the theme of the night, as Iowa never looked back and held the lead through the entire match.
Things started to go bad for the Spartans in the second rotation when freshman Jessica Ling lost her grip on the bars and took a 9.025 score. It continued with a trio of rough performances on the balance beam in the third rotation, earning the lowest rotation score of the night with a 47.200 total.
Elena Lagoski placed third in the all-around and scored a 38.000 total. She earned her first collegiate all-around title in her first ever all-around in the first match of the season last week.
The performance was not what the Spartans were looking for after a tough loss at Arizona to open the season a week ago. The loss puts them in an early hole in the Big Ten conference rankings, and will likely drop them out of the coveted Top 36 spot they eventually need to make the NCAA Regionals competitions in April.
Coach Klages touched on possible improvements to make after this loss. “We are going to have to change some things in practice for them to be tough enough to handle the transition from the practice gym to the competition floor.”
Although the energy from the Spartans went down as the deficit grew, the night started with as much electricity in Jenison Fieldhouse as those 1979 Magic Johnson games. The new event rose the excitement through the Jenison roof, and promised to make the night a memorable one.
“I’ve been pushing to have this event for a number of years now,” coach Klages said. “I think it’s a really cool idea and a really cool event, and I’m definitely in favor of doing this again.”
The Spartans will travel to Minnesota on the Jan. 23 for their next meet, before rounding out the month on the Jan. 30 with the Autism Awareness Meet in East Lansing.
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