COLUMBIA — The MU gymnastics team will look to continue improving its scores when it faces Centenary on Friday night at Hearnes Center in the second annual Beauty and the Beast match, which also features the MU wrestling team. The No. 12 MU wrestlers face No. 18 Oklahoma in a Big 12 Conference contest at the same time.
The No. 14 MUgymnasts have improved their scores in every meet this season including last week’s season-high 195.400. Missouri coach Rob Drass says he thinks the trend will continue against Centenary.
“This team is just starting to hit its stride,” Drass said. “I think we have been really consistent the past two or three weeks in practice, so I think we are going to have a great meet this weekend.”
About 6,000 fans are expected, most likely the biggest of the year for the gymnastics team.
“I always get more nervous at home, but it’s a better environment, too,” senior Ashley Khederian said. “I try to use my nerves as a positive to give me more adrenaline.”
The upperclassmen will be expected to help the younger gymnasts, especially the freshmen who have not performed in front of such a large home crowd before, cope with the fans.
“Everyone deals with pressure differently,” junior Adrianne Perry said. “Just knowing that we have their backs, I think makes them (the younger gymnasts) feel more at ease when they compete.”
According to Drass, there is a preconceived notion that gymnastics meets should be quiet. He thinks the opposite and says the cheering can be beneficial to a team.
“You can yell and scream for these kids and they appreciate it and love it,” Drass said.
The cheering can also improve a team’s scores.
“The crowd can get behind the gymnasts and yell and scream at the judges if they don’t like a score,” Drass said. “It’s a subjective sport, and I think the crowd underestimates their effect on the judges.”
MU student-athletes and members of the MU Greek community will team up for the first time at the Beauty and the Beast event to benefit the Central Missouri Food Bank. The groups will collect canned goods at the entrance and place students around the arena to accept monetary donations so the food bank can purchase items it needs.
The partnership was born in October when senior wrestler Raymond Jordan and junior gymnast Alicia Hatcher attended a leadership conference in Dallas. One of the topics was how student-athletes can affect change in their community.
“We wanted to team up with a group that student athletes have no relationship or a poor relationship with,” said Joseph Scogin, the Director of Academic Services for the athletic department.
They then approached Janna Basler, who is the Assistant Director of the Service and Leadership Unit at MU, with their proposal.
“It was amazing,” Basler said about the groups coming together. “We in the Greek community love to work with other groups, so to bridge that gap was great.”
The Beauty and the Beast meet was chosen as the first function for the two organizations to work together. Tickets for the event are $5 for adults and $3 for children, but two canned goods allows free admission.
— Missourian reporter David Thiessen contributed