Spartans Sweep Season Opener
The Michigan State Spartans gymnastics team opened the 2021 season Saturday at Jenison Fieldhouse with the Spartans’ 15th Annual Jan Howard Breast Cancer Awareness pink meet. MSU beat Nebraska and Ohio State to sweep the all-around podium, while also winning at least a share of three of the four events.
Per the official release, MSU notched a program record Saturday:
MSU’s 195.775 is the highest season-opener score in not only head coach Mike Rowe’s tenure, but the highest opening score in program history. It is also the No. 28 score on the Spartans’ team score list. Of the high scores in the country so far this season entering this weekend, Michigan State’s 195.775 is the 24th-highest score.
The meet was originally scheduled against just Nebraska, but Ohio State was added after the Buckeyes were forced to postpone a matchup against Michigan in Columbus following the Wolverines’ 14-day shutdown.
As covered in the release, the Spartans notched quite a few individual finishes:
Freshman Baleigh Garcia burst onto the scene in her Spartan debut, winning the all-around with a 39.300, as well as capturing the beam title with a 9.900, collecting both individual titles outright. Garcia’s 39.300 in the all-around is just shy of MSU’s top 10 individual all-around list, while her 9.900 on beam is tied for No. 24 on the Spartans’ all-time beam list.
Senior Lea Mitchell shared the floor crown with a 9.875, collecting her 10th career floor top honor. Mitchell was joined by the Nebraska pair of Anika Dujakovich and Kaitlyn Higgins, and Ohio State’s Alexis Hankins, atop the podium. Mitchell’s 9.875 was also her 28th score of 9.800 in her Spartan career out of a total of 36 floor performances in her career.
Freshman Delanie Harkness won a share of the bars title with a 9.850, and was joined by Ohio State duo of Colby Miller and Jenna Swartzentruber, for the event win.
The Spartans swept the all-around, as behind Garcia, sophomore Nyah Smith was second with a 39.175 and Mitchell was third with a 39.025.
Smith tied for fourth on vault with a 9.800, and tied for fifth on floor with a 9.850, tying her personal-best. Also part of the three-way tie for fifth on floor was junior Ashley Hofelich, also with a 9.850.
Garcia and Harkness were two of six Spartan freshmen who made the debuts for MSU, along with Naomi German, Sydney Hayashi, Giana Kalefe and Isabella Barbacci.
Following Saturday’s performance, Michigan State is now ranked No. 17 in the country with a score of 195.775.
Baleigh Garcia Freshman Of The Week Honors
Michigan State gymnast Baleigh Garcia earned Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week, which was announced on Monday afternoon. Garciais became the first Spartan to win Freshman of the Week Award since Feb. 22, 2010, when Shanthi Teike earned the honor.
As mentioned above, In her first collegiate meet, Garcia had an incredible debut, winning the all-around with a 39.300, as well as capturing the beam title with a 9.900, collecting both individual titles outright. According to MSU, Garcia’s 9.900 on beam is tied for the ninth-best score in the country, while the 39.300 in all-around is tied for the 16th-best score in the nation.
Garcia didn’t just have a great performance, she flirted with entering her name in the Michigan State record books. Her 39.300 in the all-around is just shy of MSU’s top-10 individual all-around list, while her 9.900 on beam is tied for 24th on the Spartans’ all-time beam list.
For more on Garcia winning Freshman of the Week honors, check out the following release from Michigan State Athletics on the announcement.