Tigers leave room for improvement in SEC championship as NCAA Regionals loom

No. 19 Missouri gymnastics finished eighth at SEC Championship.

At the SEC gymnastics championship on Friday, Sarah Finnegan, a senior from Lee’s Summit, Missouri scored a perfect 10 on her floor routine, helping her Tigers to a third-straight SEC Championship title. Finnegan’s team is not from Columbia, however, they’re from Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University.

Missouri gymnastics traveled south to the Smoothie King Center to compete in front of an SEC-meet record 10,505 fans. The fans were in for a treat as they were in attendance for a high-scoring shootout between eight top 20 teams.

No.19 Missouri (8-11-1 2-5) finished the night in eighth place. No. 3 LSU’s score of 197.900 took first, with No. 4 Florida (197.750) and No. 10 Alabama (197.350) filling the podium. No. 8 Georgia (197.000) placed fourth.

The Tigers opened the night on the balance beam, and posted a score of 49.125. Sophomore Gabrielle Gottula led the Missouri gymnasts, scoring a 9.875, and senior Brooke Kelly earned a season best score of 9.85. Junior Mary Nicholson matched Kelly’s score, while senior Allison Bower and redshirt junior Morgan Porter also tied, both adding 9.775 to the total.

All six Missouri athletes scored a 9.8 or better in the floor rotation. Again, Gottula led the Tigers, this time tying junior teammate Aspen Tucker’s score of 9.875. Nicholson and senior Michaelee Turner both contributed 9.85 as well, and Bower and Porter both earned a 9.8.

On the vault, Missouri scored 48.675, with Porter going 9.8 to lead the group. Tucker came in close behind, scoring 9.775. A 9.75 from Gottula and 9.7 from freshman Frances Bidwell completed the Tiger rotation.

Missouri ended the night on the uneven bars, where they scored a total of 48.850. Porter again led the team, picking up a 9.825. Bidwell set a literal new bar for herself, earning a career best 9.8. Redshirt senior Becca Schugel notched a 9.775, and sophomore Chelsey Christensen was awarded a 9.75. Kelly rounded out the Tiger scores with a 9.7.

At the completion, Missouri coach Shannon Welker gave some insight to how the team feels about the meet.

"We started out nice and strong on the first two rotations, which very good,” he said. “Overall there were a lot of good things but we need to put a meet together if we're going to take ourselves deeper into postseason."

The Tigers now wait for Monday, March 25 for the NCAA regional selection. 36 teams will qualify to one of four regional sites. Even if the Missouri team does not qualify, some Tiger gymnasts may be selected to compete individually.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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