Gymnastics lost its balance

The team placed second in the Cat Classic this weekend.
Senior Lisa Puccio competes on the uneven bars during Friday’s Cat Classic at the Hearnes Center. Missouri finished second overall in the event, competing against Michigan, Ohio State and California.

Halfway through the 28th annual Cat Classic, No. 15 Missouri’s gymnastics squad trailed No. 4 Michigan by just .300. But during MU’s third event, the balance beam, the wheels fell off. Literally. Several Tigers fell off the beam during their routines, allowing Michigan to pull ahead of Missouri and win the meet Friday night at the Hearnes Center. The Wolverines posted a 196.200, while MU (7-3) finished second with a 195.275. Ohio State and California finished third and fourth, respectively. Adrianne Perry, in contrast, didn’t struggle on the beam or any other event. The junior won her third consecutive all-around title with a 39.300. Perry said Missouri hasn’t had trouble on the balance beam during practice. “It’s frustrating because we’re a great beam team, and it’s just frustrating when we don’t bang out six perfect routines like we do all week in practice,” she said. Coach Rob Drass said the Tigers let early mistakes in their balance beam routines snowball into bigger problems. “When something goes wrong on beam, the girls need to focus more and let go of the mistake,” Drass said. “I didn’t think we did that.” Sophomore Sarah Shire took third place in the all-around with a 39.225, finishing .500 behind Michigan sophomore Sarah Curtis. For the first time this season, Missouri failed to post a 49.000 in an event. The Tigers struggled during their final two events, recording a 48.525 on the balance beam and a 48.875 on the floor, both below MU’s season averages. When the first few gymnasts in an event struggle, it affects the whole team, Drass said. “When it’s early in the lineup and you have a fall, that’s when things start to fall apart, or at least everybody tenses up,” he said. “To be great at this sport, you’ve got to be aggressive the whole way through, and you can’t have doubt.” Senior Julie Abaray had no doubt she would compete in the meet. The senior suffered torn meniscuses in each knee last year, and she underwent surgery during the summer. Abaray has been in rehab ever since, and, despite swelling in her knee throughout the day, she finally returned to action on Friday. “It was nice to get out there, and it was obviously not the routine I was hoping to put up,” said an emotional Abaray, who competed on the balance beam. “But it felt good to get back out there, and I hope I get another chance.” Abaray said she let her emotions get to her, tearing up when she heard her name announced before competing on the balance beam. Although Abaray struggled during her routine, getting back into competition was an accomplishment. “You’ve got to understand, she’s practicing and rehabbing the knee at the same time, so it’s difficult for her,” Shire said. “She just knows that we support her, and we’re ready for her to be back in the lineup.” Sophomore Danielle Guider posted season-highs on the vault and floor. Junior Alicia Hatcher had a strong meet, leading Missouri with a 9.875 on the uneven bars. Though they’ve had a few complete meets, the Tigers are still hoping to have a perfect meet, Drass said. “Hopefully one of these days we can put it all together,” Shire said.

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