Tiger gymnastics places 4th in Big 12

The Tigers now head to Norman, Okla. for the NCAA Regional Championships on April 2.
Senior Alex Gold performs her floor routine Saturday at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers finished in fourth place at the Big 12 Championship meet.

When it was all said and done Saturday, the Missouri gymnastics team found itself in fourth place out of the four teams competing in the Big 12 Championships at the Hearnes Center.

Despite the last-place finish, the squad came away from the meet feeling very positive about themselves.

“I think we had a good overall performance,” junior Mary Burke said. “It was the first time we put it all together and hit every event, it was a solid all-around meet.”

Missouri finished last with a score of 194.975. Nebraska edged out Oklahoma and Iowa State to take first, with a final tally of 196.775.

The last-place finish came with the Tigers not counting any falls, a testament to the quality of competition in the Big 12.

“It’s a tough league,” Burke said. “There’s four great teams, it’s super competitive but we’re happy with our performance no matter where we finished.”

MU did not come away from the meet empty-handed.

Burke claimed the sixth all-around title of her career, posting an individual score of 39.300 and said this title ranks above the rest. This was the fourth straight year a Tiger has won the all-around title at the Big 12s.

“This feels great,” Burke said. “There’s so many good gymnasts in this conference and so much competition, I’m just happy I put a solid meet together.”

The junior wasn’t the only Tiger to deliver a big-time performance. Sophomore Lauren Swankoski and senior Alex Gold each recorded their highest all-around scores of the season, and joined Burke on the podium.

Swankoski placed third with an all-around total of 39.100, while Gold took fourth with a score of 39.050.

Saturday marked the final time Gold would compete in the Hearnes Center, and she made the most of her final opportunity; scoring a season-high 9.900 on vault, which was topped only by Erin Davis of Nebraska.

“I’m happy with my day, it’s good to go out on a good note,” Gold said. “It’s bittersweet, but I guess that chapter’s done.”

Coach Rob Drass said he was elated for his team’s lone senior.

“That 9.900 was one of the best vaults I’ve ever seen her perform,” Drass said. “I know Erin (Davis) is a pretty studly vaulter, so if you’re going to lose, why not have it be to the top-ranked gymnast on vault in the country.”

Just as Drass acknowledges the quality of competition Gold faced on vault, he said he admired how his team faired against Saturday’s competition, each of who are ranked in the Top-20 nationally.

“It’s really hard to get second here,” Drass said. “We were close to third, we land one or two routines a little better and we would have been third. Last year we finished third and still went on to win regionals. We put a good meet together today, had a few mistakes but it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Tigers will now head to the Norman NCAA Regional. The bid marks the program’s 10th straight appearance in regionals.

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