COLUMBIA - After completing the best routine of her career, Sarah Shire was met by associate head coach John Figueroa before she had a chance to get off the landing mat. Figueroa picked Shire up and gave her a hug as big as the vault she had just landed.
The junior scored a 9.95, the second-highest vault score ever for a Missouri gymnast. Shire won her fourth all-around title of the season Friday night, leading No. 13 Missouri to a 195.75-193.40 win against Southeast Missouri State in front of 1,067 at Hearnes Center. The Tigers set a season high for the second straight week and won their first home meet of the season.
When asked if her vault felt perfect, Shire said, “Can I say, 'Yes,' and not sound cocky? I don’t mean to sound cocky at all, but I knew when I landed and my feet didn’t move that it was one of the best I’d ever done.”
Shire posted a 39.40 score in the all-around, one-tenth below her career high. Had she not twisted her ankle during her floor routine, Shire would have easily set a career high in the all-around.
“I think it’s a huge compliment to her that she left two- to three-tenths (of a point) on floor, and she still put up a 39.4,” coach Rob Drass said. “That’s a pretty impressive score any night for anybody.”
Shire’s crowd-raising vault capped off the Tigers’ best single-event performance of the season. Missouri scored a 49.25, getting season-highs from senior Adrianne Perry (9.85), freshman Mary Burke (9.85) and junior Becky Scholle (9.775).
In each of its first three meets, Missouri (6-1) struggled in its first event and had to make up ground the rest of the way. Coach Rob Drass said starting slow put more pressure on the Tigers for the rest of the meet.
The Tigers couldn’t have started much better Friday.
“When they come out, they’re focused, they’re aggressive, they’re coming out to attack,” Drass said. “When you attack in gymnastics, more good things happen than bad.”
Burke, Scholle and sophomore Alex Gold led Missouri off with solid scores on vault and set the tone for the entire meet.
“One, two and three (on vault) hit their routines tonight, and it let us settle in,” Shire said. “It took some of the pressure off, and we just kind of let it cruise throughout the meet.”
Burke started Missouri on vault, while Scholle led off on the uneven bars. Scholle understands its her job to start strong.
“You definitely know when you’re first or second up that you’re expected to hit,” Scholle said. “That’s why they put you at the beginning of the lineup because you’re consistent.”
Perry finished just behind Shire in the all-around with a 39.30. So far this season, Shire has been the better of the two. But Shire said Perry and herself have yet to have their best meet, and the two will continue to push each other.
“We get in there on Monday and I think her and I kind of get the most hungry towards getting better,” Shire said “…Her and I are such perfectionists that we know we can do better.”
After taking control on vault, Scholle (9.775) and freshman Alli Heizelman (9.75) added two more season-highs on the uneven bars. Shire tied a career high with a 9.925 on the balance beam, while Burke tied her season high with a 9.775.
Shire’s 9.675 on floor was a season low. Shire said she opened up too early on a landing and came down hard on her bad right ankle, causing it to roll.
“It scared me more than anything,” she said. “I’m not actually hurt. I think it’s just a little tweak, not a big deal. But it was probably a good two-tenths deduction right there, so it’s frustrating.”
Burke finished third in the all-around, posting a season-high for the third straight meet with a 39.175.