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Columbia Missourian

'Super fan' brought his spirit to Missouri gymnastics meet

By Colin Gambaro
January 20, 2012 | 11:43 p.m. CST

The lighting was dim as "Fight, Tiger" blared over the PA system; the crowd, subdued, but with one loud exception.

Proudly belting the words to Missouri's fight song, Larry Wyatt II was on his feet, clapping in rhythm. As the Tigers walked onto the Hearnes Center floor on Friday night, Wyatt remained standing, enthusiastically trying to pump up the crowd.

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"Rip 'em up, tear 'em up, give 'em hell, Tigers!"

It wasn't his usual venue, but at gymnastics meets, Wyatt is able to spend time with his mother Beverly. He is a regular attendee at most Missouri baseball home games, but he finds time to support every team. After all, his spirit never wavers.

"He gets that whole crowd all pumped up," Missouri gymnastics coach Rob Drass said of Wyatt. "He's absolutely great to have out there."

Wyatt, who has lived in Columbia his whole life and works at the Department of Revenue, is well known around town as a Missouri "super fan."

And from the second Missouri freshman Rebecca Johnson took off sprinting down the mat toward the vault to kick off Missouri's match against the Denver Pioneers, Wyatt was tuned in.

Throughout the first two rotations he was glued to the action. As the Tigers moved on to bars, Wyatt sat in his seat in the first row leaning on the railing in anticipation of the next skill. When sophomore Taylor Medrea dismounted the bars during her routine, Wyatt stood, anticipating the landing. Medrea stuck the landing. Wyatt threw both his fists in the air, pumping them in jubilation.

Every time the PA announcer attempted to stir the crowd with a timely "M! I! Z!," Wyatt's voice could be heard above all others as he cupped his hands around his mouth to respond "Z! O! U!"

As the teams moved on to their third rotation, Wyatt did something out of the ordinary. Frustrated with the judges' evaluations of the gymnasts' scores on both teams, he got up and left his seat.

"That's unusual for me at a gymnastics meet, but I had to get up and walk around for a little bit," Wyatt said.

He wandered around the lower bowl of the Hearnes Center, stopping to chat with several people, pausing to watch every time a Missouri gymnast performed a routine. One of the people he talked to was junior Missouri outfielder Scott Sommerfeld, who decided to spend his Friday night watching gymnastics with some teammates. 

"He's the definition of a super fan," Sommerfeld said. "When he's at the baseball games, you know Larry's there because he will let you know."

As the match came to a close, Wyatt returned to his seat to wait for the final scores. While the coaches for both teams made inquiries about the scores, some of the 3,076 fans in attendance started to head for the exit. But one fan obviously did not budge.

Wyatt, sitting in the same position against the railing from earlier in the match, jumped out of his seat one last time when the scores were finally announced — a 194.725 to 194.625 win for the Tigers.

He personally congratulated each gymnast.

"I thought the performances were excellent for both teams," said Wyatt , critiquing the match. "They were great."