COLUMBIA — This season has been a new experience for Missouri wrestler Todd Schavrien. As one of only three seniors on this year's team, Schavrien, the Tigers 141-pounder, has had to take on greater responsibility.
“I have always seen myself more of a lead-by-example kind of leader, but this year it has been a little different,” Schavrien said. “I have been a more vocal leader this year, because I was voted on by my teammates as a team captain.”
WHEN: 2 p.m., Saturday
Wrestlers will take on Chattanooga at 2 p.m., then will face SIU-Edwardsville at 3:45 p.m. Gymnasts will compete against Southeast Missouri at 2 p.m
WHERE: Hearnes Center
TICKETS: $5 for adults, $3 for youth/senior citizens
It's been a chance for Schavrien to be more of a mentor to his teammates.
“Every time I see one of them going through something I went through, I usually try to pull them aside and give them a few choice words that either an upperclassman had said to me or something I wish they would have said to me,” Schavrien said.
Alex Gold, the only senior on the Missouri gymnastics team, knows what it’s like.
"Teammates often ask me 'How do I calm myself down before I compete'," Gold said.
On Saturday, these seniors will guide their young teammates into largely unknown territory. The Beauty and the Beast, a simultaneous competition at Hearnes Center featuring the MU gymnastics and wrestling teams, will require the complete focus and attention of even the greenest competitors.
“We are definitely a younger team this year,” Tigers gymnastics coach Rob Drass said. “We are getting them to understand the difference between competing in high school and competing in college.”
Last week, the gymnasts had their first meet at the Cancun Classic in Mexico, losing to West Virginia 194.500-191.575. Gold finished third in the all-around competition.
“It was definitely an eye-opener,” Gold said. “We want to think about it, but not dwell on it.”
The trip to Cancun might have the offered the women a chance compete in an unusual environment, but that won't be the same as the sights and sounds of a crowd cheering on two different competitions at the same time.
But Drass said his athletes are trained to put their attention on the task at hand.
“Every day in practice we are working on our focus,” Drass said. “We don’t worry about the other teams we are competing against. We always work on focusing on just ourselves because that allows us to remain constant.”
The wrestlers, who are well into their season, might be more prepared for the distractions of competition. They won the Midlands Invitational at the end of December in Evanston, Illl., and last weekend earned a fifth-place finish at the National Duals with a victory over Big 12 rival Oklahoma State.
“The good thing about this team is they like to prepare,” Missouri wrestling coach Brian Smith said. “These guys love to train.”
Nothing figures to be different for this weekend’s Beauty and the Beast event.
“We have to go in prepared,” Smith said. “So far this year, we haven’t had too many bad matches. We’ll be training straight through the weekend, and hopefully we won’t be sluggish.”
Regardless of the environment, both coaches said they look forward to this competition as a way to show the public what MU athletics has to offer.
“It’s always a fun event for Mizzou,” Drass said. “There just isn’t an event like it.”
“It’s a great event for the community,” Smith said. “We have a great (gymnastics) team here.”