Ill teammate gives two Missouri gymnasts opportunity

Sunday, March 21, 2010 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 8:16 p.m. CDT, Sunday, March 21, 2010

COLUMBIA — One sickness meant two opportunities for Missouri gymnasts.

Since freshman gymnast Tori Howard was sick Sunday, she was taken out of the lineup and Missouri head coach Rob Drass filled her spot in two events during Missouri’s 196.3-183.075 win against Centenary at Hearnes Center.

Freshman Lauren Swankoski competed in place of Howard on balance beam, and sophomore Tara Foster performed in her first collegiate event on floor exercise.

“It was pretty nerve-racking,” Foster said. “Getting thrown out there, it was definitely an opportunity. You have got to take those when you get them.”

Foster, who has been bothered by ankle injuries throughout high school and college, has competed in exhibition events before. Sunday was her first non-exhibition performance in college. She scored an 8.725.

“When I started, I was nervous,” Foster said. “Once I got going, it kind of wore off a little bit. Once I got going, it was fun. It wasn’t as nerve-racking as I thought it would be.”

Foster’s first ever routine didn’t go quite like she had hoped, but she was happy to earn the experience.

Swankoski was also unhappy with her performance in place of Howard on balance beam, but she followed her miscue on beam with a career-high score on floor exercise.

“Sometimes when you struggle in an event you feel like the weight’s off your chest,” Drass said. “I think it’s a tribute to her that she struggled and then she came back with a career high-tying performance.”

Not only were Foster and Swankoski inserted into the lineup at the last minute, but they both had to follow senior Sarah Shire, the No. 1-ranked gymnast in the country.

Shire usually is the last Tiger to perform on each event, but because of Howard’s illness, she was second to last.

“To be at the end of the lineup is something you have to get used to,” Shire said. “There’s a little bit of extra pressure.”

Being the team’s final home regular season meet, Sunday also marked the opportunity for Missouri to honor its seniors. Shire, Danielle Guider, Becky Scholle and Brooke Boehmer were all honored with a video and a ceremony after the meet.


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