Gymnastics takes down top 10 opponent

No. 13 Missouri beat No. 9 Oregon State in the Tigers' last home meet.

In their last meet at the Hearnes Center, seniors Adrianne Perry and Alicia Hatcher gave the home crowd one last performance to remember.

Both Perry and Hatcher helped pace No. 13 Missouri (16-2, 1-2 Big 12) to a 196.425-195.950 win against No. 9 Oregon State and gain momentum heading into the Big 12 Championship next week.

"Oregon State is a darn good team," coach Rob Drass said. "To have that kind of performance against a great team just shows how far we have come in a short time."

The Tigers’ score was their second highest this season and the third time in 2009 they crossed the 196.000 mark.

In her final home event, Perry captured first place in the floor exercise with a score of 9.900. For Perry, who is the defending conference champion on floor, her final title topped off an emotional evening.

"It was icing on the cake," Perry said. "It was kind of a bittersweet night."

Although Perry provided the late-meet heroics, Hatcher spent her night compiling one of the best meets of her career.

The Blue Springs native tied career highs on the balance beam and floor, in addition to falling just short of her career high on the uneven parallel bars.

"What a night she had," Drass said. "To beat a top 10 team, what a way to go out for Hatcher and Adrianne."

Junior Sarah Shire finished off her 2009 season with yet another all-around title. Her score of 39.475 earned Shire her ninth such first place finish this season.

"I can never make expectations like that for gymnastics because everything is just so up and down," Shire said of her success this season. "As I continue, I really have to focus on taking it day by day, event by event."

Shire accomplished all this despite starting the evening off with her lowest vault score of the season. The junior quickly recovered and ended up in the top three in all four events.

The combined efforts of Perry, Hatcher and Shire kept Missouri toe-to-toe with the visiting Beavers all night long.

After each rotation, the Tigers held a lead that never grew more than a point. In the end, above-average team scores on the bars, beam and floor kept the Beavers at bay.

After the meet Shire reflected on beating the higher-ranked Beavers, especially after they scored the nation's third-highest team score of 2009 just last week.

"As a team that was one of the best meets we've had, whether the score showed it or not," Shire said. "We were cohesive, we did our job and it showed tonight by beating a team that was very good."

As the Tigers head to Ames, Iowa, for the Big 12 Championship on March 21, Drass also recognized the significance of taking down such a big opponent in Oregon State.

"I think tonight was a confidence-builder," Drass said. "They know they can hang with the best teams in the country. I think they made a statement tonight."

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