Gymnastics team gives glimpse into the 2017 season at the annual Black and Gold meet

Kennedi Harris: “Last year, we were a young team. This year, we have a little bit more experience.”

Junior Becca Schugel high-fives her teammates as the announcer introduces the team.

The Missouri gymnastics team showed off its skills Saturday in the annual Black and Gold meet at Hearnes Center.

The Tigers’ 2017 season looks promising, especially after finishing last season ranked 20th in the country. Exhibition events like Saturday’s serve to give the freshmen a chance to perform on the big stage before the season starts.

The meet started with performances on vault from freshman Aspen Tucker, junior Shauna Miller, senior Angie Kern, sophomore Xarria Lewis, sophomore Morgan Porter and junior Kennedi Harris.

Tucker made her debut as a Tiger with a 9.775 on the vault. This score would tie with Lewis for the top score on vault performance.

“My expectations this year are to be a good competitor and the team to succeed throughout the whole season and keep improving,” Tucker said.

Next, the Tigers moved to the bars. The lineup included Tucker, Miller, sophomore Brooke Kelly, junior Tia Allbritten and junior Becca Schugel.

Miller had a stellar performance on the bars, earning a score of 9.825, which would tie with Schugel’s.

Seven Tigers competed in the beam portion of the competition. Schugel finished with a solid score of 9.75 in the leadoff spot in the rotation. Porter would shine above the rest with the top score of 9.9 for her routine.

To end the meet, the Tigers showed off performances on the floor, wowing the crowd and judges with their dance moves and tumbling. Schugel, who did not compete in any floor competitions last year, came out on top with the high score of 9.825.

These events are important for the entire team, as they give the performers a sense of what to improve on heading into the season. Schugel left the meet thinking about her sticking dismounts.

“I didn’t get two out of two today, so I’m a little upset about that,” she said.

Fellow junior Harris has work to do as well.

“I know what I need to go back in the gym and work on,” she said. She will focus on “technique and what I need to in each skill, so the outcome will be what I practice.”

This season, Harris and Schugel will look to use experience gained from their first two years to their advantage. Harris believes last season taught her that she needs to “just come in here and do what I need to do.”

“Last season made me more confident,” Schugel said. “Going into routines, I’m not doubting myself, and each time I know I’m going to hit.”

The mix of experience and new talent has the Tigers primed for a deep run. Harris said the team’s goal is to make it to national championship this season, which will be hosted in St. Louis.

Schugel is excited about the opportunities the team has, saying the season will be about “putting our best meets together.” The Tigers’ first chance to do so will be against Illinois and Ball State on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in Hearnes Center.

“Last year, we were a young team,” Harris said. “This year, we have a little bit more experience. With the addition of the freshmen, I think we are golden.”

Edited by Eli Lederman |

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