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MU gymnastics Pink Out meet includes friendly rivalry

Friday, February 11, 2011 | 11:29 p.m. CST
MU Junior Mary Burke flips on the uneven parallel bars during the meet against Illinois on Friday. Burke's score was 9.850 on the bars and 39.175 all around.

After over a decade of competing against each other, Mary Burke and Allison Buckley competed on the floor wearing the same color for the first time.

"Pink is the first time we’ve been on the same ground," Buckley said.

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MU hosted the seventh annual Pink Out meet, and both MU and Illinois wore pink leotards.

Familiar foes, MU's Burke and Illinois' Buckley competed against each other again Friday. They met 10 years ago when Burke trained briefly at Gymkhana, a gymnastics club owned by Buckley's family.

"We’ve been close ever since," Burke said.

They attended rival high schools in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and were members of rival clubs.

"We always had that competitiveness in high school and it’s the same now," Buckley said. "It’s a lot of fun to see each other and be close and compete against each other."

In 2006 Burke and Buckley tied on the balance beam for first place in the Illinois High School State Championship.

Buckley finished as the all-around champion and first gymnast in Illinois history to receive the maximum six medals: four events, all-around and team state championship.

In 2008 Burke would match that performance, becoming state champion and setting the meet record on beam with a score of 9.9.

Five years later, their competition continues.

"Going against a friendly rival, you really want have your best meet that meet," Burke said.

Burke finished Friday with a 9.75 over Buckley's 9.725 on beam, but Buckley prevailed as the all-around champion with 39.25 over Burke's 39.175.

Sandra Ostad set a career-high on the vault with 9.875, sharing a powerful embrace with coach John Figueroa as she stepped off the mat.

"I had a really good feeling in vault today," Ostad said. "Making it when it counted was a great feeling."

Illinois finished with a score of 195.4, topping MU's 195. Even though they fell behind last week's score of 195.4, coach Rob Drass doesn't feel they've taken a step back.

"It feels more like we took a step to the side," Drass said. "There were things we did better and things we did worse, but we're still making good progress."

The 2,506-person crowd was pink-washed, with the first 500 fans receiving free Pink Out t-shirts. Four breast cancer survivors were recognized before the meet and served as celebrity judges.


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