Missouri gymnasts are on a roll

The MU gymnasts won their meet Friday against Southeast Missouri State.
Sophomore Sarah Shire reaches for the high bar during the uneven bars on Feb. 8 during the Beauty and the Beast competition at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers defeated Southeast Missouri State 195.425-193.50 on Friday.

It’s a recurring theme for Missouri’s gymnastics team this season. The Tigers put together a meet they feel is deserving of a first-rate score, but the judges’ scores aren’t indicative of MU’s performance.

No. 14 Missouri moved to 5-1 after downing No. 27 Southeast Missouri State 195.425-193.50 Friday night in Cape Girardeau.

Although the mark was the Tigers’ second highest score this year, coach Rob Drass thought it could have been higher.

“I think it’s frustrating for the athletes when sometimes you feel like you have a better meet, and scores aren’t always reflective of that,” Drass said. “But that’s just a part of this sport.”

Junior Adrianne Perry claimed the all-around title with a 39.250 and praised her team’s performance.

“I think we went in with a lot of confidence and knocked out the routines that we know how to do,” Perry said. “Scores didn’t really reflect that, but we have no control over that.”

Missouri won each event in the meet, posting a meet-high 49.000 on the floor exercise. The Tigers scored 48.975 on the vault, 48.900 on the balance beam and 48.550 on the uneven bars. Perry grabbed first place on the vault and balance beam in addition to her all-around title.

Senior Ashley Khederian’s 38.975 earned her second place in the all-around.

Junior Alicia Hatcher won the uneven bars with a 9.775. She also scored a 9.825 on the balance beam.

Freshman Alex Gold captured two second-place finishes, scoring a 9.825 on the floor and a 9.800 on the vault. Walk-on freshman Lauren Stephenson posted a 9.750 on the vault and a season-high 9.700 on the balance beam.

Khederian said Missouri’s practices are preparing the Tigers well.

“We practice under a lot of pressure, so we know what it’s like in meets if someone falls before you ­­— you know how to contain your nerves and just worry about yourself,” she said.

Sarah Shire, normally a competitor in all four events, didn’t participate in the uneven bars. The senior won the floor exercise with a 9.850.

“She was just a little sore and tired, so we just wanted to make sure that she felt strong,” Drass said.

Drass said he needs his gymnasts at full strength with No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 5 Michigan coming to Columbia in the next two weeks.

“If we can win against Oklahoma, we can establish ourselves as the best team in the Big 12,” Khederian said.

The Tigers haven’t beat Oklahoma since Feb. 29, 2004, at a meet also held at the Hearnes Center.

Competing in front of a home crowd might boost the Tigers’ scores.

“When a crowd gets behind the athletes’ routines, I think the scores climb,” Drass said.

Understanding the task at hand might also aid MU against the Sooners on Saturday.

“Sometimes, you compete to the level of competition,” Drass said. “We try to drill in that the only thing that matters is our own performance each and every night. But I think when you have an opponent that demands your best, you get a little more out of them each and every time.”

With five meets remaining before the Big 12 Championship, Missouri is building confidence, Khederian said.

“I don’t think we’ve necessarily arrived as a team yet,” she said. “But we’re good. We know we’re good. We know when postseason comes we’re going to show everyone how good we are.”

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