Fourth Annual Autism Awareness Gymnastics Meet to Be Held This Weekend

This week, the Lady Spartans of the gymnastics team will host Penn State in their fourth annual Autism Awareness Meet. Dominique Moceanu, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, will be making a guest appearance to support the cause.

After coming off a close loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers, Michigan State will be opening their Big Ten season in this matchup with the Nittany Lions. Last week, all-around gymnast Alina Cartwright was out due to a neck injury in warm-ups. There is no word yet whether or not she will be back to compete this week.

Penn State on the other hand, has been dominating early in their season. So far they have achieved a 6-1 record, including last week’s victory in a quad meet with Cornell, Southeast Missouri State and the University of Illinois at Chicago. There most recent win came from 11 personal bests which scored a very hard to beat, 196.025.

The Nittany Lions arrived at this season-best score by posting scores of 49.075 on the vault, 49.175 on the bars, 48.375 on the beam and a top-10 event score in school history, a 49.400 on the floor exercise.

The competition this weekend will be fierce and MSU head coach, Kathie Klages, says she hopes people will come out to support the team and the Gymnastics Doctor Autism Foundation, headed by Dr. Larry Nassar.

“I think that it is a phenomenal cause, and I think with having Dominique Moceanu here, it’s going to be really exciting because she’s somebody that everybody knows and loves from the 1996 Olympics,” coach Klages said. “What we need to do is get the community here to see. We’ll have some special needs kids performing gymnastics prior to the competition, which is really exciting to see them perform, and we need to get the awareness out for autism.”

The meet is set for Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. in Jenison Fieldhouse.

Erin Eschels is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports