COLUMBIA — Hearnes Center was filled with motion and sound for Saturday afternoon's Beauty and the Beast event.
The Missouri gymnastics team flipped and leaped, twisted and tucked. The Missouri wrestling team grappled and rolled, circled and dodged. The crowd cheered, coaches shouted and buzzers clanged.
Through it all, 14-month-old Gabe Clark sat still and quiet on his father's lap, eyes big and focused on the athletes. His family was sitting down close to the wrestling mat to cheer on Tigers wrestler Dorian Henderson.
When Henderson stepped out on the mat, Gabe broke from his silence to cheer. “Go!” Gabe said, clapping his hands. His mom, Nichole Clark, 23, said he loved the gymnastics even more than the wrestling.
“Flying through the air — that wins,” Clayton Clark, 24, said about his son's preference for the women's competition.
Henderson, ranked 18th at 174 pounds, went on to win both his matches for the day as the MU wrestlers beat Chattanooga 29-9 and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 48-0. The MU gymnasts won at a Beauty and Beast event for the fifth time, topping Southeast Missouri 194.925 to 192.285. Mary Burke won the all-around with a 39.225 and Alex Gold place second at 38.875.
The wrestlers competed on the north side of the arena and the gymnasts performed on the south side. At any given moment, there were four athletes performing in three different corners of the arena.
The Tigers were on vault while the Redhawks were on the uneven bars. By the time Missouri's Alan Waters had finished his three periods against Chattanooga's Joe DeAngelo at 125 pounds, four Tigers had taken both their runs on the vault and four Redhawks had completed their bar routines.
The announcer alternated between wrestling and gymnastics, as would the video screen hanging from the center of the arena. The crowd would hear “Two points, Waters” followed by “Next on the vault, Alex Gold.” Added to the mix were the wrestling officials' whistles and chants from the gymnasts for their teammates, as well as the crowd answering the Tigers' "M-I-Z" cheer with a "Z-O-U” chant.
The Wier family was one of many at the event who sat in the middle of the arena, trying to watch both the gymnasts and the wrestlers. They made the trip to Columbia from the St. Louis area with their friends.
Alex Wier, 13, and Tim Bogar, 12, have been wrestling at the Bonhomme Wrestling Club for six years. Amy Wier and Ginny Kerr, both 8, have been taking gymnastics classes at Olympiad-Ellisville for three years.
Ginny said that she “liked watching gymnastics and wrestling at the same time.” Sherry Wier, 35, and Debbie Bogar, 42, said the girls wanted to try out the gymnastics floor and suggested that some day maybe it would be Amy and Ginny in the Mizzou leotards. The girls smiled and shrugged their shoulders, excited but not sure of the idea. It was, after all, their first time in such a big arena.
They seemed most intrigued by the different music for the floor routines. Joe Wier said that up until now, the girls all used the same music for their floor routines. “They don’t get to pick until level five,” he said. The girls were quick to point out that they are now training in level five.
Alex and Tim, on the other hand, were old pros at the Hearnes Center. They said they had been to several other big wrestling events, including two NCAA championships. What they were most excited about, though, was that Joe Wier used to wrestle for Missouri.
“He was the last Big Eight Champ,” Alex said of his dad. Afterwards, the Tigers became part of the Big 12 Conference.
Joe Wier, 37, still has his wrestling chops. “I called it,” he said of back-to back pins from the Tigers' Brent Haynes and Dom Bradley to finish the competition.
“Haynes had a head in the hole, and then a bear hug for Bradley to end the night,” Joe Wier said.