Gabby Wilson on floor

LIVE BLOG: No. 15 Michigan State at No. 1 Michigan

It’s time for a Sunday afternoon showdown in the Big Ten! I’m sure a lot of us still have Monday’s Michigan-Minnesota meet on repeat, but this dual has the potential to produce some equally stellar routines. The defending champs are back at home today to face in-state rival Michigan State, and the Spartans are ready to prove they can compete with the nation’s best.

Despite a narrow loss to Iowa last week, Michigan State is riding high. The first three meets of 2022 have brought record-breaking performances at every turn, and MSU has already surpassed the 196 mark twice. That’s enough to put the Spartans at No. 15 nationally, their highest ranking since March of 2008. Freshman Skyla Schulte is emerging as an all around star, and fellow newcomer Gabi Stephen won the vault against Iowa with a perfect 9.950. The pair captured Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for the first two weeks of the season. After missing much of 2021 due to health and safety concerns, Michigan State’s meteoric rise is firmly back on track.

Michigan is also having a great January, to put it mildly. The Wolverines eclipsed the 198 mark in their first road meet of the season at Minnesota, pushing them nearly half a point ahead of No. 2 Utah in the in-progress rankings. The vault and floor lineups led the way, where dynamic difficulty and nailed landings earned event scores of 49.650-plus. Senior Natalie Wojcik was named one of three Big Ten Event Specialists of the Week, while her rest from the bars lineup allowed five-star freshman Jacey Vore to score 9.900 in her collegiate debut. Juniors Sierra Brooks and Gabby Wilson were fabulous as usual, posting all around scores of 39.700 and 39.625 respectively. It’s difficult to find many areas where the Wolverines could improve, but we can all enjoy watching them try.

This rivalry has been lopsided in recent years, but don’t expect the same story today. Michigan State is a young, talented team that would like nothing more than to knock off No. 1 at home. Michigan appears ready to defend its crown already, but needs to maintain its momentum as the rest of the country inches closer. This is going to be a good one, folks! Let’s go!

Michigan State lineups

Michigan lineups: Vault Bars Beam Floor

Looks like we’ll be having a bit of a late start due to the basketball game. Hope we don’t miss any routines!

Rotation 1: Michigan VT, Michigan State UB

Guggino (Michigan): Nice Yurchenko 1.5 with a step forward. Good form in the air but couldn’t find the stick this week. 9.850

Stephen (MSU): Nice floaty Shaposh, holds the handstand on the high bar, hits the bail and final handstand. Great height on the double tuck dismount but has to take a step back. 9.750

Mulligan (Michigan): Great Yurchenko full, a bit of leg separation and a hop back. 9.825

Loomis (MSU): Fall on the Yaeger to start, a bit loose in the back on the Pak salto, misses the final handstand, takes a small step back on the double back dismount. 8.950

Morrison (Michigan): Good one and a half, off to the side and takes a hop to the side with a foot shuffle. Great form in the air though! 9.850

Mitchell (MSU): Big Shaposh to start, good bail, nice final handstand a bit short, hop back on the double layout dismount after a bit of pike in the air. 9.800

Brooks (Michigan): Fantastic one and a half! Just a tiny hop. 9.975

Jackard (MSU): Good first handstand, big Yaeger, nails the handstand in the bail and a good final handstand, good form on the double back but another hop back. Could have been a huge score with a better landing. 9.825

Wilson (Michigan): Big one and a half with a hop to the side. 9.875

Schulte (MSU): Perfect first handstand, a bit short on the bail handstand, cranks the giants around and does a good double layout, another big hop back. No sticks for MSU so far. 9.825

Brenner (Michigan): Another big one and a half, takes a step back, also a bit of pike and knee bend in the air. 9.875

Harkness (MSU): Huge Geinger to start, beautiful bail and final handstand, great form on the half in half out but over rotates, takes two hops back. 9.875

AFTER ONE: Michigan 49.425, Michigan State 49.075

Michigan with a good vault rotation, if a bit less crisp than Monday. Brooks with another not suck 9.975, definitely should be the vault leader but still. Michigan state had great handstands and strong form on bars, and was able to drop that fall in the second spot. The Spartans will kick themselves for not sticking any landings though. A lot of missed tenths.

Rotation 2: Michigan State VT, Michigan UB

Hsu (MSU): Sky high Yurchenko full to start the rotation, a bit piked in the back half of the flight but lands with just a small hop back. 9.775

Heiskell (Michigan): Perfect first handstand, hits the Yaeger, good flight on the Pak and strong from, great final handstand and full pirouette, nails the double tuck dismount. A huge start! 9.900

Schulte (MSU): Big Yurchenko full but a big hop back. 9.750

Brenner (Michigan): Good first handstand, floats the Yaeger, tiny bit short on the last handstand, strong double layout to finish, another great landing for MIchigan! 9.900

Smith (MSU): Nice Yurchenko full, better form in the air than the first two, but another hop back. 9.800

Morrison (Michigan): Good first handstand, hits the Yaeger and nails the handstand after, hits the bail and final handstand, big height on the double layout but hops back. 9.875

Garcia (MSU): Great landing on the Yurchenko full! Not a ton of distance and chest slightly down on landing but close to stuck. 9.850

Wilson (Michigan): Good first handstand, nails the piked Yaeger, slightly short on the bail handstand, good final handstand, floaty double layout with a perfect landing. Great routine! 9.925

Hofelich (MSU): Huge Yurchenko full with a stuck landing! Chest was down on landing but it was a big, clean vault in the air. 9.800

Vore (Michigan): Good low bar handstand, hits the release combo and final handstand, good double layout to finish, a bit of leg separation and pike in the hips but sticks the landing. 9.850

Stephen (MSU): Huge Yurchenko full! A hop back with a small step to the side. Really one of the best fulls in the country. 9.825

Brooks (Michigan): Nice piked Yaeger to start, hits the bail handstand, slightly short on the last handstand, spectacular double layout full to finish with a stuck landing. Great anchor routine! 9.950

Rotation 2 Scores: Michigan State 49.050, Michigan 49.550

AFTER TWO: Michigan 98.975, Michigan State 98.125

An incredible bars rotation for Michigan puts the Wolverines just under 198 pace at the half. Landings were on today, and they really don’t give away any little tenths in handstands or form deductions. Michigan State kept pace with a strong vault rotation, but didn’t find the landings until the later part of the lineup. Difficulty also putting the Spartans behind. The Yurchenko fulls were beautifully executed, but with Michigan competing five 10.0 starts, it would be hard for anyone to keep pace. Both teams still in the running for season high scores though! Should be an exciting final two rotations!

Rotation 3: Michigan BB, Michigan State FX

Morrison (Michigan): Candle mount to start, moving a little tight. Hits the bhs loso series but has a small wobble after a pause, good leap switch leap switch half, finishes with a gainer pike, nearly stuck. Not quite the same start as bars, but a solid routine. 9.850

Ewing (MSU): Great front double full to start! A bit out of control on the leap pass and takes a larger step than expected. Hits the one and a half to front full combo last pass. Close to the out of bounds line on both passes but tiny steps kept her inside. 9.850

Wilson (Michigan): Floaty bhs loso nailed, strong switch split to switch split, perfect control on the full turn, sizable step on the double back dismount but a confident and aggressive routine! 9.900

Mitchell (MSU): Beautiful double back to start, second pass one and a half to front layout, a bit low on the front layout but no landing deductions, great double pike to finish! Another great routine to start this rotation for MSU! 9.850

Guggino (Michigan): Nice full turn to start, good bhs loso series, tiny wobble and a pause on the leap combo, hits the side somi, nails the bhs one and a half dismount! 9.875

Harkness (MSU): Big full-twisting double back to start, nice landing there. Front layout punch Rudi, a bit of messy legs in the air and a pike down but another good landing. 9.900

Brooks (Michigan): Perfect bhs loso loso series to start, so solid. No wobbles on the switch leap switch leap, nails the kickover front. Bhs one and a half dismount with a hop forward, really the only deduction you can see in that routine. Just incredible. 9.850

Stephen (MSU): Front double twist to start, a bit low on the punch front out of it but lands it well, huge air on the leap pass, sky high double pike but under rotates a bit with a step forward. She was pointing her toes in the air on the double pike. I can’t. 9.850

Heiskell (Michigan): Sizable wobble on the side aerial to start, recovers well with the leap series. Solid bhs loso series, a tiny wobble on full turn but nothing major. Nails the roundoff one and a half dismount! No beam worries for Michigan today. 9.800

Schulte (MSU): Big full-twisting double back to start, close to the oob line but stayed in. Front through to double back to finish, solid landing. So much energy! A great routine. 9.900

Wojcik (Michigan): First look at the beam queen today, solid front aerial to start. Perfect leap series, nails the bhs bhs loso and full turn. Finishes with the roundoff one and a half, just a small hop forward. Another perfect routine on the beam with the only obvious deduction on the landing. 9.900

Hofelich (MSU): Huge double pike to start, great landing. No trouble on the leap pass. Nails the one and a half to front layout. Finishes with a double back. Incredible landings on every pass! Should be a big score. 9.925!

Looks like Jacey Vore did a beam exhibition but the broadcast decided to show MSU standing there instead? I might be reading too much into things.

Nope, MSU definitely just had an exhibition on floor, which we also didn’t see. Apparently putting a backpack on is more exciting.

Rotation 3 Scores: Michigan 49.375, Michigan State 49.425

AFTER THREE: Michigan 148.350, Michigan State 147.550

Fantastic floor rotation for Michigan State! The Spartans brought some big time tumbling and served up some great landings as well. Great to see Schulte get her first college 9.900. There will be plenty of those in her future. Michigan was solid as a rock on beam to keep MSU from gaining much, although the Wolverines weren’t quite perfect on the landing mat today. There were some opportunities for huge scores and maybe even 10.0s from Wojcik and Brooks, but the small hops were the difference. Almost like it’s still January! Most teams would dream of a beam rotation like that though. Michigan would have to go huge on floor to go 198 again (definitely possible), but Michigan State is definitely on pace for a great score! Just have to hit beam. Easy for me to say.

Rotation 4: Michigan State BB, Michigan FX

Harkness (MSU): Nice full turn to start, bhs loso series no wobbles, side aerial combo done well with a bit of pause, side aerial tucked full to finish, just a small step back. Good start for MSU! 9.775

Guggino (Michigan): Big double pike to start, controlled lunge back. Beautiful splits on the leap pass. Nice whip half to front full. Finishes with a front layout punch Rudi, just a small slide of the front foot on landing. A good first routine. 9.850

Smith (MSU): A bit of messy form on bhs loso combo but no wobble, slightly off on the leap series but only a minor pause, huge double back to finish with a step on landing. Great to see the Spartans going for the difficulty on beam! 9.800

Mulligan (Michigan): Front through to double back, flirts with the oob line but I didn’t see a flag. Nice double pike to finish! A good first floor routine for her. 9.850

Stephen (MSU): Kickover front aerial, that’s so hard and she did it with no wobbles. Slightly off on the bhs loso and has a minor wobble to both sides. Finishes with a roundoff double twist, the tiniest hop back. Great routine! 9.850

Brenner (Michigan): Full-twisting double back to start, chest down on landing but escapes without much trouble, hits the second pass well. Good leap pass. Chest down again on the double pike but just the controlled lunge back. 9.875

Schulte (MSU): Solid full turn to start, tiny wobble on switch leap to switch half combo, another small wobble on bhs loso series, side aerial layout full dismount, just a tiny hop back. Great form in the air! Another solid routine for the Spartans! 9.875

Wojcik (Michigan): Great double pike to start, perfect flexibility in the leap pass. Sticks the front double twist to front pike! Finishes with a Rudi punch straddle jump, another perfect landing. Should be a big score! 9.950

Mitchell (MSU): Very crooked on the bhs bhs loso but escapes with just a wobble, another wobble on the full turn, good leaps, finishes with a roundoff one and a half and nails the landing. 9.750

Brooks (Michigan): Great full-twisting double back to start, no landing trouble. Same story with the double tuck. Finishes with a sky high double pike. Not much to take there at all. 9.950

Garcia (MSU): Nice full turn, floaty bhs loso series with a small wobble. Beautiful extension on the leaps. Nails the side aerial layout full dismount! Finishes another great rotation for MSU! 9.925!

Wilson (Michigan): Open full-twisting double back to start, another great landing. Floats the one and a half to front layout front tuck. Gigantic height on the straddle leap series. Nails the double tuck to finish. What do you even say. 9.950

Rotation 4 Scores: Michigan State 49.225, Michigan 49.575

FINAL RESULTS: Michigan 197.925, Michigan State 196.775

Another stunning floor rotation for Michigan finishes things off in the high 197s, likely locking in the No. 1 ranking for another week. The 1-2-3 punch of Wojcik, Brooks, and Wilson is so special, and its not like the first half of the lineup is in any way weak. Michigan State finished its day with a solid rotation on beam. Head coach Mike Rowe wanted to go 49.000-plus on every event, and the Spartans accomplished that for a season high score on the road. Schulte and Stephen with solid all around scores (Schulte’s is a season high), but can’t quite match the 39.650 from Wilson and 39.725 from Brooks.

Event Winners

VT: Brooks (Michigan) 9.975

UB: Brooks (Michigan) 9.950

BB: Garcia (MSU) 9.925

FX: Brooks, Wilson, Wojcik (Michigan) 9.950

AA: Brooks (Michigan) 39.725

Ryan’s Stories of the Night

Michigan was characteristically fabulous today, showcasing it can challenge anyone even when its top athletes are resting. The Wolverines don’t have a weak routine on any event, and the back half of every lineup is showstopping. Today’s landings looked a bit more like early season, which may be a good sign for a team that needs to just stay at its current level to challenge for a national title. But let’s talk about Michigan State. A season high score by .350 on the road at one of the most challenging arenas in the country. The Spartans were fabulous today, and every routine showed there’s so much potential for growth. No one stuck a landing on bars today, and vault could have been much stronger. It’s definitely not out of the question to think MSU could break its 2004 team scoring record of 197.025 this season, and with some of the top contributors being freshmen and sophomores! This is one of the most exciting teams in the Big Ten, and in the country. Hats off to them!

READ THIS NEXT: LIVE BLOG: No. 1 Michigan at No. 6 Minnesota

Live blog by Ryan Wichtendahl

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