Missouri gymnasts to face old friends

Friday, February 26, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — In high school, Becky Scholle and Lisa Mulchek were classmates, teammates and friends. Friday night they will be opponents.

Missouri gymnast Scholle will face an old friend when the Tigers host Illinois State at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Hearnes Center.

Scholle, a senior, has a longtime friendship with Illinois State senior Mulchek from the St. Louis area.

Scholle said she has done gymnastics with Mulchek her entire life. After almost four years at Missouri, she still hasn’t competed against her longtime friend in college. That will change Friday.

“It’s not a competitive mindset,” Scholle said. “I’m just really excited to see her do gymnastics. I’m really excited to see how much she’s improved.”

Scholle said she was really close with Mulchek in high school and that they had a friendly competition. She hasn’t seen her friend compete in almost four years.

Sophomore Mary Burke will also see a familiar face Friday. Burke attended Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill., with current Illinois State freshman Tori Sarantakis. She has another close friend on the opposing team in freshman Chelsie Seplowin, who competed on the same club team as Burke.

“Anytime you’re going against someone you know, you want to do well,” Burke said. “I’m sure (Sarantakis) is doing the same thing for us.”

Burke described her relationship with both girls as close. She had a big smile on her face when talking about her former teammates.

Senior Sarah Shire, who tied a Big 12 conference record this week by winning her 11th career Big 12 Gymnast of the Week award, has competed with and against friends and former teammates several times throughout her career.

Shire described going up against a former teammate as a “friendly, fun environment.” She said it’s always exciting to see familiar gymnasts, as well as their families.

Coach Rob Drass said there’s always a motive for gymnasts to show a former teammate the improvement they’ve made and that they made the right decision on where to go to school.

“Our focus stays the same,” Drass said. “We just have some friends watching this time.”

The friends will reunite Friday, with the Tigers coming off a loss to Oklahoma last week. The loss pushed their regular season conference record to 1-2. Missouri's matchup with Illinois State is the first of four nonconference meets before the Big 12 Championship on March 27.

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