COLUMBIA — Before the start of the Missouri gymnastics team's Black and Gold Meet, Hearnes Center public address announcer Larry Noto listed superlatives from last year’s squad.
Senior Alex Gold won the all-around with a score of 38.325 and the Black Squad edged the Gold Squad 151.750 to 151.225 Friday night at the Hearnes Center.
Gold's score of 9.875 won the vault competition, and helped her beat out sophomore Sandra Ostad by .325 for the all-around crown.
Junior Mary Burke put up a 9.875 on the bars to tie Gold for the highest score of the meet.
But his tone soon changed.
“That was then, this is now,” Noto said.
This season’s Tigers lined up shoulder-to-shoulder on a podium on the south side of the Hearnes Center, and Noto proceeded to introduce them one-by-one.
By the time he was done, Noto had called off the names of six freshmen. As the No. 13 Tigers look to build on last year’s success, they will do it with plenty of new faces on their roster.
"It's just a matter of us feeling confident with them and helping them along in that process and giving them that confidence and that ability to be starters," coach Rob Drass said.
The Tigers lost four seniors to graduation and junior Tara Foster became a student-coach, creating the void this year's freshmen fill in.
For Cathryn Aliceaacosta, being one of six newcomers can be both calming and challenging.
"It's made me feel a little bit more comfortable knowing there's five other freshmen," Aliceaacosta said. "At the same time maybe a little bit of pressure is put on us because we are half the team. We just know we need to get the job done and that's what counts."
Drass said it is a challenge acclimating six new people into a program.
"We haven't had a large freshman class for a while and I think I've forgotten some of the things you have to overcome each year," Drass said. "Whether it's kids being homesick, getting used to things, school, grades, change of coaches, expectations in the gym. Whatever it happens to be."
Alex Gold is the lone senior this year, and is the elder stateswomen of a team that features 10 underclassmen on a roster of 13 gymnasts.
Gold said instilling goals into the newcomers was important.
"When I came in there were two of us (freshmen)," Gold said. "Six is half the team, and they weren't here last year and they haven't been to nationals, so they've got to get the mindset in getting there."
The Tigers start the season against West Virginia at 6 p.m. on Jan. 7 in Cancun, Mexico.