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MU junior gymnast Perry leads Tigers on Senior Night

Friday, March 21, 2008 | 9:21 p.m. CDT; updated 8:32 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Missouri gymnast Adrianne Perry competes in the floor routine during the meet against Arizona State on Friday at the Hearnes Center.

COLUMBIA — Missouri junior gymnast Adrianne Perry paced around the edge of the mat leading to the vault. She put chalk on her hands, and sprinkled some on her legs and feet. She practiced the motions of her vault and then stretched her arms, neck and head. She stood on mat waiting for her name to be called.

When the announcer said Perry’s name, her teammates yelled, “Come on ‘A,’” and the crowd cheered. Perry looked down, took one final, deep breath and charged full-speed down the mat. She cartwheeled, hit the spring and lifted off the vault. After performing an array of aerial moves, she landed flawlessly and was awarded with a score of 9.800.

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She continued with tremendous scores the rest of the night and won the all-around competition for the sixth time this season with a 39.375. Her tremendous efforts Friday night at the Hearnes Center were the difference in Missouri’s narrow win 195.625-195.500 over Arizona State on senior night.

Although Perry won the meet, she was hoping for a better team score.

“I’m happy,” Perry said apathetically. “But I guess there’s still some frustrations because we haven’t broke 196.000 and that’s kind of been our goal this year. I guess I’m happy with myself, but overall there is still frustration.”

Missouri coach Rob Drass felt similar frustration.

“Some things were good and some things we still need to work on,” Drass said. “Overall for us to contend for a Big 12 Championship, we really have to clean up some stuff. The floor (exercise) just wasn’t there. We had two kids go out of bounds and an athlete fall, so we were giving away points there.”

While a junior stole the show in the all-around, seniors did perform well for the Tigers in their final home meets. Julie Abaray, whose season has been marred by injury stemming from two knee surgeries in the summer, picked a perfect time to shine on the balance beam with a 9.800.

After every move on the balance beam, Abaray’s glistening smile grew larger and larger. When she jumped off the beam and landed, she had accomplished a big goal.

“It was just exciting to be able to get out there and be in the lineup for my senior meet,” Abaray said. “That’s something I’ve been striving for all season ever since I had the knee surgeries.”

Abaray is getting healthy at the right moment for the Tigers. While she has become an event specialist, she knows she is counted on for much more.

“I would just like to continue to be a leader for the team inside and outside the gym,” Abaray said. “Since I’m only practicing beam, I need to continue to push the other girls on the other three events, too.”

Senior Ashley Khederian placed fourth in the all-around with a 38.825 and scored a 9.800 in the floor exercise—her final home event in a Tiger uniform. Other seniors whose seasons have been limited due to injury, Nikki Bowman and Lisa Puccio, competed in exhibition and performed well.

Sophomore Sarah Shire had an up-and-down meet for the Tigers. After scoring a 9.900 on the vault, tying a career high, she fell on the uneven bars scoring a 9.125. Then, she missed a career high on the balance beam by .025 scoring a 9.875. However, Shire finished the meet by going out of bounds during the floor exercise. She ended up with a disappointing sixth place all-around performance.

The meet marks the end to regular season competition for the Tigers. Post-season competition starts next weekend with the Big 12 Championships.


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