COLUMBIA — After two straight home meets, the No. 14 MU gymnastics team returns to the road today to face the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, looking to extend its winning streak to three.
The meet begins at at 7 p.m. at Houck Field House in Cape Girardeau.
While road meets tend to produce lower scores because of unfamiliar equipment and hostile crowds, the need for high scores in away meets is essential for regional qualifying.
“I think people get more uncomfortable because we don’t know the equipment, but we can always learn to adjust to equipment,” senior Ashley Khederian said. “And road scores are important because you can’t count all home scores.”
When computing the regional qualifying score, which determines if a team will make the NCAA Regional Championship, two road scores must be included in the calculation.
While road meets can be difficult for the gymnasts, they can also bring the team closer together.
“Bus trips are really fun for us, and it’s good because this one is not that long, either,” Khederian said. “We get to stay together the night before and there is definitely more bonding than home meets.”
Coach Rob Drass agrees the team becomes a stronger unit at road meets.
“I think these guys are contained together for such a long time and become closer and closer when those things (road meets) happen,” Drass said. “Each time we have a trip, when we come back, we are a closer and better team.”
While the Tigers (4-1) have improved their score in every meet this season, including a season-high 195.800 on Feb. 8 against Centenary College, they still have not put together a complete meet.
“We have shown one really great event at every meet,” Khederian said. “But we haven’t gone four great events this year, and that’s what we need to do.”
While sophomore Sarah Shire has been leading the team the past two weeks by winning two straight all-around competitions and was just recently named Co-Big 12 Gymnast of the Week, the focus for today’s meet against the Redhawks (3-2) is a complete team effort and not putting too much pressure on one gymnast.
“I don’t know that you want to put it (the pressure) on any one person,” Drass said. “I think it’s just a matter of the team stepping up and doing their job all together and really just taking care of business.”