Michigan State gymnastics honors seniors, notches second-highest score in program history

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Erin Grady

EAST LANSING – Michigan State gymnastics celebrated its senior class and finished first in the MSU Quad Meet with a season-high 198.15 points on Saturday. That number is also the second-highest score in program history. 

“I overused the phrase ‘they’re still not hitting on all cylinders,’” Michigan State head coach Mike Rowe said. “I think today we got closer to that.” 

Central Michigan finished second with a 196.425, followed by Fisk at 192.925 and Greenville at 189.75. MSU added three more wins and moved to 16-3 on the year. 

The Spartans’ season-high output is significant because it allows Michigan State to count its previous high of 198.05 at Michigan towards its National Qualifying Score (NQS). The NCAA uses each team’s NQS to decide who goes to the postseason and how they are seeded. The score is taken by taking each team’s six highest scores, at least three being on the road, and then taking out the best one and averaging the remaining five out. 

That is why Michigan was ranked above MSU going into Saturday, even though the Spartans have beaten the Wolverines twice and won the Big Ten regular season title outright. 

MSU’s season-high score was largely due to its seniors. Senior Delanie Harkness competed in three events, scoring at least a 9.9 in all of them. 

“This senior class is absolutely amazing,” Harkness said. “They mean the world to me.”

She was not alone. Michigan State seniors Baleigh Garcia and Giana Kalefe each earned a 9.925 on the beam, tied for the second-best score on that event Saturday. Jori Jackard reached the podium for the uneven bars with a season-high 9.9. 

“[Senior Night] is tough. It’s very, very emotional,” Rowe said. 

The Spartans have eight seniors, about a third of the team. Rowe said a few may decide to stay for a fifth year. 

“That’s a big chunk of your culture,” Rowe said. 

That culture shined through as MSU surpassed its NQS score for all four events. The lowest overall score for an event was a 49.45 on the vault, which is tied for the fifth-best score for the event in program history. 

The Spartans’ 49.475 on the bars is seventh in program history. Then, a 49.6 on the beam tied the program record. They wrapped up the event on the floor with their third-best score ever, a 49.625. Their score improved after every rotation. 

Michigan State dominated the podium while competing with three other programs as well. 

Junior Skyla Schulte received the all-around title. 

The top four vault scores were from MSU. Freshman MaKayla Tucker tied her career-high, and sophomore Olivia Zsarmani set a new one, each with a 9.925. 

On the bars, the Spartans had the two best scores, with another being tied for third. Harkness’ 9.95 was tied for her career-best in any event. 

Michigan State had the three best scores on the beam, too. Additionally, there was a four-way tie for fourth on the beam, three of which were from MSU. Four Spartans either tied or set career highs in the event, with Schulte leading the way with a 9.95. 

MSU capped it off with the three best floor scores as well. Schulte received the highest individual score of the day with a 9.975. 

The Spartans have just one more performance left before the Big Ten Championships come to East Lansing on March 23. They travel to Denton, Texas on March 17 for the Texas Woman’s University Quad Meet against TWU, Rutgers, and Centenary. After those two opportunities, it will be time for NCAAs. 

Harkness says the Spartans can go “all the way to the end” and be one of four teams to make the final.

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