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Spartans Take 2nd At Big Ten Championship

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State gymnastics team took runner-up at the Big Ten Championships with a team score of 194.975 at Jenison Field House Saturday night. It marked the first time MSU had reached the podium at the conference meet since 1997 and was the highest finish for the Spartans since earning back-to-back second place finishes in 1995 and 1996. Minnesota captured the 2006 Championship title with a score of 195.150. Michigan State head coach Kathie Klages and Penn State head coach Steve Shephard were honored as co-head coaches of the year.

MSU junior Chayla Hill finished as co-champion on the vault in a five-way tie for first with a 9.800. Kristen Coleman finished in a tie for second in the all-around competition with a score of 39.100. On the balance beam Briana Dicus came away with a third-place finish scoring a 9.825.

The Spartans were followed closely by Penn State University who took third with a 194.925, while defending Big Ten Champion Michigan placed fourth with a 194.475. Ohio State (193.525), Iowa (193.425), and Illinois (192.500) rounded out the top seven.

Following a bye in the first rotation, the Spartans started competition on vault posting a team score of 48.750. The Green and White were led by Chayla Hill, whose score of 9.800 was good enough to clinch a share of a five-way co-championship in the event. Hill was followed by freshman Briana Dicus and sophomore Bethany Little who posted identical scores of 9.750. Rounding out the Spartan line-up were juniors Kristen Coleman and Victoria Iakounina who each posted a 9.725.

Michigan State continued in the third rotation on bars with a team score of 48.550, highlighted by a 9.775 from Kristen Coleman, which placed her in eight on the event. Rhiannon Banda-Scott and Katlyn Roggensack each garnered scores of 9.725, followed by a 9.675 from Little and a 9.650 from freshman Dani Fanning.

Upon completion of the third rotation Michigan State moved into third place with a 97.300 behind Minnesota with 97.675 and Michigan with 97.625.

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The Spartans built their momentum in the fifth rotation on beam netting an event total of 48.775. MSU turned in strong performances from each competitor in its lineup with a top score and third place finish from with a 9.825 from Dicus, followed closely by Coleman with a 9.800. Hill, Roggensack added to the Spartan total with 9.725.

Michigan State moved up to second in the standings after the fifth rotation with a 146.075, while Minnesota held the lead with a 146.450 and Ohio State took third with a 145.350. The Spartans held their lead following the sixth rotation, which saw Penn State move into third with a 145.875.

In the seventh and final rotation of the evening the Green and White turned in its best team total of the evening posting a 48.900 on the floor sealing a second-place finish for the Spartans. The Spartans were led by Alexander and Hill who each scored a 9.850 putting them in sixth. Kristen Coleman scored a 9.800, while Fanning and Banda-Scott each scored a 9.700.

Michigan State Head Coach Kathie Klages

On the performances today.
"I am very excited about the performances of our athletes today. We knew being at home would be a huge help and we were very relaxed coming into competition today. We just tried to focus on ourselves and what we knew our team was capable of."

On being Co-Big Ten Coach of the year.
"It is quite an honor, but I feel that it should be well shared between myself, my assistant coaches, Sam Buchalter and Katie Teft, and my entire team."

On the future.
"Right now we are looking forward to our Regional Championships. Also right now we only have nine athletes on scholarship and next year we are going to be fielding a whole team of scholarship athletes so I'm looking forward to that."