Missouri Gymnastics outlasted by No.6 LSU

Freshmen Helen Hu clutched All-Around and Beam titles in the meet.

After placing third in St.Charles, Missouri, last Friday at the Mardi Gras Invitational, Missouri (2-9, 0-6 SEC) headed back to the comfort of Hearnes Center to take on a Southeastern Conference foe in LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC). Though a close match, Missouri fell short for a final of 197.025-196.850. This meet served as their annual Stick It to Hunger meet and for those in the crowd who brought a jar of peanut butter, a $4 admission as opposed to $8, to see the Missouri squad perform.

The squad opened the meet on the vault, rallying in a 49.200 finish. Some top contributors to that total were sophomore Hannah McCrary with a 9.8, junior Gabrielle Gottula with a 9.85 and freshmen Helen Hu and Kambrie Brandt added on 9.825s. Redshirt senior Morgan Porter tied for the vault crown in the meet with a 9.9 leading the pack into their next rotation on bars.

In last Friday’s performance, the Missouri squad set its season-best record on bars. This go-round, they had some need for improvement, as they finished the rotation with 49.050, about a few tenths off of their season-best. Porter led the pack again with a 9.875, followed by Hu with a 9.85 and senior Aspen Tucker closed off with a 9.825.

"I thought we came out and did a nice job on vault and really had great energy to open it up tonight,” coach Shannon Welker said.”I thought we did well on bars, but I still think we can do better.”

Missouri responded strongly to get its way back into the meet on their third and highest-scoring rotation of the night on the beam. Finishing out with a 49.350, Missouri would enter the final rotation only trailing LSU 147.625-147.600. This finish on beam was bolstered by Hu with her career-best 9.975. Hu entered the match ranked fifth nationally on the beam, and became the third Missouri gymnast to earn a 9.975, joining Lauren Schwartzman and Britney Ward. Some other top performers on the event were Gottula with a 9.9 McCrary with a 9.850 and from freshman Sienna Schreiber a 9.825.

With only a .25 deficit entering in the final rotation Missouri and its home crowd were breathing down LSU’s neck. Gottula opened up the floor rotation performing to the instrumental of Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” putting the crowd in an uproar and setting the tone for the event finishing with a 9.825. Hu, Schreiber, and sophomore Alisa Sheremeta followed with their own 9.825s. Porter closed out the floor with a 9.85 for a total finish of 49.250.

“Real pleased with how we responded on beam – I thought we were real strong over there – and I thought floor was strong,” Welker said. “The energy was good, there was confidence in the routines.”

Despite a stunning performance on both the beam and floor performances, Missouri lost narrowly to LSU for a final of 197.025-196.850. Next up for the squad is a quad meet against Lindenwood, No. 7 Minnesota and Ohio State at 7 p.m. Feb 28. This will be the regular season finale and senior night for Missouri.

“We're about to get back two of our seniors next weekend, we're getting them back at a perfect time of the year,” Welker said. “It's all about how you finish the season, we took it upon ourselves to make the second half our half of the season."

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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