Monday, May 27, 2024

Michigan State’s Schulte and Smith Set Sights on NCAA Gymnastics Glory

In a remarkable display of skill and dedication, Michigan State University gymnasts Skyla Schulte and Nikki Smith are heading to Fort Worth, Texas, to participate in the NCAA Gymnastics Championships. The competition is scheduled to take place at Dickies Arena on Thursday, April 18, starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Following a triumphant season where they secured both the Big Ten Championship and the regular season title, the duo is poised for success on the national stage. Schulte, a junior, will showcase her prowess in the floor exercise, while sophomore Smith will take on the beam event. Both athletes are set to compete in the early session of the championships.

Schulte enters the championships with a stellar season average of 9.913 in the floor routine, and an all-around score average of 39.491. Her remarkable performance throughout the season included winning a share of the Big Ten floor title and consistently scoring above 9.900, notably reaching scores as high as 9.975. Her path to the championships was cemented with a 9.925 score at the NCAA Gainesville Regional.

Under the watchful eye of Spartan head coach Mike Rowe, Schulte and Smith are aiming to elevate their performances. Rowe expressed his confidence, noting the athletes’ pursuit of perfection in their routines. Smith, making her debut at the NCAA Championships, scored a career-best 9.950 on beam at the Gainesville Regional, demonstrating her readiness for the national spotlight.

Michigan State’s tradition of excellence is highlighted as Smith becomes the third Spartan in as many years to qualify for the NCAA on beam, joining the ranks of previous qualifiers like Schulte and Gabrielle Stephen. This year marks a significant milestone with the university sending qualifiers to the NCAA Championships for three consecutive seasons.

As the competition unfolds, both athletes have the opportunity to secure NCAA All-American honors. Schulte, previously honored as an All-American for her beam routine in her freshman year, could make history as MSU’s first two-time NCAA All-American. Meanwhile, Smith, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, aims for her inaugural All-American accolade.

Coverage of Thursday’s semifinal rounds will be available on ESPN2, with additional streaming of individual events on ESPN+. Fans and supporters of MSU gymnastics can watch these promising athletes strive for national recognition in what promises to be a compelling display of gymnastic excellence.

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