LIVE BLOG: No. 29 Penn State at No. 13 Michigan State

Michigan State’s only home meet this season produced its only 197.000+ score, so it’s exciting for the Spartans to be back in Jenison with another opportunity to demonstrate just how high they can go. This talented team has been crushing vault this year, but bars is a key rotation: The average bars rotation this year has scored 49.044, and a score a few tenths above that mark would indicate that the Spartans are headed toward another huge number.

Penn State, meanwhile, is taking advantage of its great freshman class to bounce back from last year’s disappointing finish. Like Michigan State, the Nittany Lions are best at home. Unlike Michigan State, this team is relatively weak on leg events but can crush bars in the first rotation and show that it’s here to compete.

Rotation 1: Michigan State VT, Penn State UB

Ny. Smith (MSU): FTY, a smidge of form early on but probably good enough landing to be credited as a stick. Just the heel movement there. 9.85

Johanson (PSU): Toe on a little short to Tkachev, nice Pak, super precise half turn on the low bar. Some of these cast handstands a little borderline, double lay with a shuffle-hop back. 9.675

Schulte (MSU): FTY, piked down just a smidge with a scoot back. 9.85

Johnston (PSU): Short on the first handstand, Maloney to bail very precise, blind full double tuck underrotated with a big hop forward. 9.7

Garcia (MSU): Nice clean FTY, medium hop back. Best body position so far on that one. 9.85

Vihrova (PSU): Short on the first handstand, blind really nice to Jaeger, caught on her wrists with a little loss of form, overshoot. Blind full double back with a little hop back. 9.75

Kellerman (MSU): Front pike 1/2, a little deep with a big hop back. Almost overcooked it. 9.75

Mace (PSU): Toe on to Maloney to Pak, leg separation throughout, fights through her half pirouette, shy on a cast handstand, double layout a little shapey with a small hop forward. 9.775

Ni. Smith (MSU): One and a half, huge and dynamic, medium hop forward. Little bit of flexed feet. 9.875

Piedrahita (PSU): Shy on the first handstand, Maloney to Pak very nice, slight wiggle on the half pirouette, half in half out nice with a pace back. 9.8

Stephen (MSU): You know who she is, you know what she does, she stuck this one. What else can you say. It was up on her toes but she avoided any super visible battle to hold onto it. 9.925

Rushlow (PSU): Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, looked a touch floppy but I’m not sure that’s a deduction, slight arch on her last cast handstand, FTDB a little deep but stuck. 9.85

Zsarmani in the vault ex for MSU.

After 1: Michigan State 49.350, Penn State 48.875

Not Penn State’s cleanest bars rotation, but resilience there, several of them could have gone south and none of them did. Great rotation for MSU on vault. It’s scary to think of how good this event could be when the landings really start to close in.

Rotation 2:

Vihrova (PSU): Solid Omelianchik to start, little bouncy. 9.775

Schulte (MSU): Maloney to bail, little bits of form. Double layout gorgeous and stuck. 9.825

Johnston (PSU): FTY, piked throughout, medium hop back. 9.75

Stephen (MSU): Maloney, some foot form, clear hip to bail pretty clean. FTDB stuck. Nice! 9.875

Herring (PSU): FTY, a little form, just a small hop back. 9.775

Jackard (MSU): Blind to Jaeger, lovely turnover, hands slip off the bar and she literally lands on her feet and walks away. Bail, good, blind full double tuck stuck-ish. 9.2

Salcedo (PSU): Omelianchik, it cracks me up that she starts halfway down the runway because she’s so short, gorgeous tight pike with a small hop forward. 9.8 is anti-fun

Zsarmani (MSU): Great first handstand, Pak a little high but works out fine, Maloney to Gienger, great. Shy on a handstand, double layout stuck. Nice!! 9.875

Johanson (PSU): Nice FTY, small hop back. Cleanest FTY of this lineup by far. 9.85

Ni. Smith (MSU): Tiny wiggle on her first handstand, Maloney to Pak with feet throughout, soft back on her half pirouette, double layout a little whippy but stuck. 9.925

Piedrahita (PSU): DRILLED her Omelianchik. Awesome. 9.925!

Harkness (MSU): Toe on to Gienger, gorgeous, handstands are perfect, bail. FTDB stuck. Dang. 9.9

After 2: Michigan State 98.725, Penn State 98.000

Great recovery there from MSU. Penn State had a solid vault rotation highlighted by a truly extraordinary one by Piedrahita.

Rotation 3: Michigan State BB, Penn State FX

Kalefe (MSU): Nice triple series, medium check at the end. Switch… a little hesitation… tuck jump full to beat jump. Cartwheel gainer full stuck. 9.8

Rushlow (PSU): Nice double tuck, just a front foot wiggle. Switch ring to tour jete half, missed the split there. One and a half front lay with some soft knees and a shuffly landing, her feet slid. Solid Rudi. 9.7

Zsarmani (MSU): Kickover front, medium check. Kickover front BHS and falls, she was going sideways and had no chance of getting either foot on the beam there. It was basically a handstand step down dismount. Switch switch side, one and a half twist with a step back. 9.175

Piedrahita (PSU): Nice solid double pike. One and a half front lay, little scoot, switch half short of split to wolf full. Double back, chest low, hops to lunge. 9.825

Schulte (MSU): Slight adjustment on her full turn, so quick judges may not have noticed it. Switch switch half beat is immaculate. She’s SO aggressive. BHS LOSO, a little off but aggressive arms saved it, switch gainer full stuck. Wow. Pure willpower there. 9.875

Vihrova (PSU): Double tuck, a little short, side step and then lunge. Switch ring tour jete half good, front lay front full looks a little deep but works through it fine. Double pike, steps out of bounds.

Smith (MSU): BHS LOSO, leg up check, hangs on. Nice switch straddle quarter. Full turn, double back with a small hop and then a step back. 9.775

Salcedo (PSU): Switch full sissone is GORGEOUS. Great double front. Side aerial LOSO to knees, switch side half Shushunova, front lay front full front tuck gorgeous. Freaking love this routine, her quality of movement and dynamism is just delightful. 9.825

Stephen (MSU): Two-foot front aerial, great, nice full turn, BHS LOSO with a touch of form, beat jump to straddle half. Double full dismount stuck. WOW WOW WOW. 9.9 as they should.

Johanson (PSU): Overcooked her double pike, two extra steps back but stayed in bounds. Front full Barani is great, nice and clean, great double tuck. 9.7

Garcia (MSU): Full turn, finishes on releve, BHS LOSO great. Front aerial to split. Lovely extension. Switch to split, so easy, BHS gainer full stuck. Fantastic. 9.925

Herring (PSU): Double Arabian, good, hop to lunge. One and a half front lay. Switch side Popa straight into dance, I love when people get clever with dance skills, double back with an extra step back.

After 3: Michigan State 148.025, Penn State 146.700

Nobody in that Penn State floor lineup, spare maybe Salcedo, seemed to have the feel of that floor and how much bounce it was going to give. Once again a great recovery for Penn State on beam, with a couple of truly immaculate routines at the end.

Rotation 4: Penn State BB, Michigan State FX

Piedrahita (PSU): BHS LOSO, soft knees, full turn, cat leap side aerial a little awkward but makes it work. Switch tuck 3/4, one and a half twist stuck. Really solid. 9.8

Ny. Smith (MSU): Front through double back, a tiny bit overrotated, switch side Popa maybe a little short of horizontal. One and a half front lay, good, double pike good. Music cut out at the end there and she kept it moving. 9.85

Salcedo (PSU): Full turn, BHS LOSO, medium check. Standing front tuck, split split 3/4, punch front full stuck. 9.7

Kalefe (MSU): Nice front double full, super upright. Switch to wolf full to switch Shushunova. Rudi LOSO, great. 9.9

Gibble (PSU): Front aerial, leg up check. Full turn. BHS LOSO. Cat leap switch side, lean forward. Beat to ring jump, didn’t get her front foot up and a check. Cartwheel one and a half twist with a step. Fought through. 9.65

Harkness (MSU): Full in, way short, two big steps forward but keeps her hands up. Double back, also crunchy with a step forward. Ankles gonna need some ice after that one. 9.5

Rushlow (PSU): Beat split 3/4, adjustment, BHS LOSO great. One and a half twist stuck. Really really quality. 9.775

Stephen (MSU): Front through double pike, fantastic control, front double full and lunges out with perfect control. Fantastic. 9.875

Herring (PSU): Kickover front BHS, awkward and some form but probably quick enough to get the connection. Full turn. Hitch kick switch side, nice, tuck front full stuck. 9.675

Schulte (MSU): Great full in, great presence and crowd is beyond into it, front through double back really nice. Awesome.

Johnston (PSU): BHS LOSO, solid, split to sheep. Great side aerial. Full turn, one and a half twist stuck. Nice finish!

Ni. Smith (MSU): Full-in, a little overrotated. Commentators started talking about how she might get a 10 AFTER that landing deduction. One and a half front lay, good, double back and I couldn’t see whether her front foot stayed down.

FINAL: Michigan State 197.450, Penn State 195.475

Fourth-best score in history for the Spartans! Great result in front of an absolutely rocking home crowd. For Penn State, this wasn’t the best, but it’s a meet that you feel would have spiraled out of control in the last few years, so salvaging a decent score this week is an achievement in itself.

VT: Gabi Stephen, Ava Piedrahita 9.925
UB: Nikki Smith 9.925
BB: Baleigh Garcia 9.925
FX: Skyla Schulte 9.925
AA: Gabi Stephen 39.575

READ THIS NEXT: After Sharing the Nastia Liukin Cup Title, Nikki Smith Commits to Michigan State‚Äôs Success

Live blog by Rebecca Scally

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