Tigers take first place in Senior Night meet

Missouri waved goodbye to three seniors in its final home meet of the season.

For redshirt senior Morgan Porter, this was more than just a home meet. In this quad meet against No. 11 Minnesota (5-3) (5-0) Big Ten, Lindenwood and Ohio State (3-4) (2-3), No. 20 Missouri (5-9) (0-6) nabbed first place in a farewell performance for Porter and seniors Aspen Tucker and Mary Nicholson.

The Tigers jumped ahead early on in the meet with the first rotation on vault. They vaulted in 49.200 as a team for the second week in a row. Junior Gabrielle Gottula erupted for her career-best with a 9.9. Some other contributors to the score were freshmen Sienna Schreiber with a 9.875 and Helen Hu with a 9.8. Porter vaulted her way to a 9.85 to close out the rotation. With an end to the rotation, Missouri only held a narrow lead against all other teams.

On bars, the Tigers went without Tucker for this final home meet due to an injury from last Friday’s meet against LSU. Despite the loss of one of their seniors, the squad finished with 49.100. Hu led the pack reeling in a 9.875, followed by Schreiber with a 9.85. Porter earned a 9.825 at her final time on Hearnes Center bars while freshman Hollyn Patrick made her debut on the event. Patrick, who filled in for clutch bar performer Tucker, came away with a 9.75.

"We did a good job of sticking in there and not letting some small mistakes get us off track,” coach Shannon Welker said. “We kept our energy up and stayed focused.”

That resilient energy was carried into the beam event as Hu anchored the squad to a 49.150. With Hu’s finish with a 9.975, she joins Lauren Schwartzman in Tiger history with at least two scores of a 9.75 or higher on the event. Tallying behind were Schreiber and sophomore Hannah McCrary with a pair of 9.825s and Porter with a 9.775.

At the start of the final and Missouri’s highest scoring rotation, the Tigers held a narrow lead 147.425-147.400 over Minnesota. It had been a back and forth night between the two NCAA top 25 ranked squads, both in the meet and in the crowd. With the exchanges of “M-I-Z, Z-O-U!” and “Lets go Gophers, lets go,” the entire Hearnes Center was on the edge of their seats. In the midst of all that noise, the poise and focus that only senior gymnast Porter could bare. Porter clinched the meet win with the final floor routine of the night, finishing with a 9.85, 0.075 more than what she needed to get to secure first place. The final tally on the floor rotation was 49.350.

“How exciting to have Morgan [Porter]clinch the win for us at the end,” Welker said.” We knew what the scores were and I think we needed a 9.75 to tie and anything over that was a win, and clearly she was over that. It was pretty emotional on a number of levels."

Missouri closed out its Senior Night in first place with 196.775, followed by Minnesota 196.675, Lindenwood 194.700 and Ohio State 194.675. Hu nabbed three event wins on the bars, beam and an all-around score of 39.475. Another event winner for Missouri on the floor was McCrary with a 9.925. The Tigers head back on the road to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on Nebraska (8-3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7.

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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