MU Gymnastics to compete Saturday at Ohio State

Thursday, January 29, 2009 | 12:17 p.m. CST; updated 12:21 a.m. CST, Friday, January 30, 2009

COLUMBIA - Saturday night’s meet at Ohio State will allow Missouri to see where it stands in relation to teams close to the Tigers in the rankings. Missouri, ranked No. 13, will face No. 14 Ohio State, No. 15 Illinois and No. 26 Michigan State in its first quad meet of the season.

“It’s a good measuring stick for us, going up against teams that will challenge us,” coach Rob Drass said.

Next meet

No. 13 Missouri
at No. 14 Ohio State with
No. 26 Michigan State and
No. 15 Illinois

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Columbus, Ohio

TV: Big 10 Network

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Missouri was ranked No. 12 before losing to now-No. 12 Nebraska last Friday. Being ranked at or around No. 12 is important because the top 12 teams get seeded into the NCAA regionals. Drass said it’s also easier for a top-12 team to qualify for nationals because judges expect those teams to have the strongest performances at regionals.

Although Missouri is 2-0 on the road this season, Drass said the team hasn’t hit all 24 routines yet.

“We really feel like we have not put our best foot forward yet this year, and we feel like the team’s ready to do that this weekend,” he said.

The meet takes on added significance for freshman Mary Burke. Burke, an Inverness, Ill., native, said she knows almost the entire Illinois team and a couple of gymnasts from Ohio State and Michigan State.

“It kind of makes you want to do better and focus more,” said Burke about competing against gymnasts she knows.

Burke was recruited by Illinois and Ohio State. During an earlier interview, Burke’s high school coach, Jim Guest, said there was miscommunication between Burke and Ohio State about her interest in the school, and Ohio State signed away its scholarships without offering one to Burke.

Burke said she’s not concentrating on Missouri’s opponents. Drass hasn’t talked to Burke about competing against Ohio State but said “that should only inspire her to do a little bit better this weekend.”

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