Missouri gymnastics continues tough schedule against No. 3 Oklahoma

Thursday, February 16, 2012 | 6:35 p.m. CST; updated 12:11 a.m. CST, Friday, February 17, 2012
Katelyn Trevino performs a vaulting skill Jan. 20 during the Missouri gymnastics match against the Denver Pioneers at the Hearnes Center.

COLUMBIA — For Missouri gymnastics, there are no easy weeks.

Coach Rob Drass prefers it that way.

"We always try to put together a tough schedule," he said. "The wins and losses aren't as important as seasoning your team to compete against the best."

Since gymnastics rankings were first released Jan. 16, Missouri has faced six teams, all of which have been ranked in the top 25.

Missouri's schedule won't get any easier next year when it enters the SEC, which is generally regarded as the toughest conference in college gymnastics.

Currently, all seven of the conference's teams are ranked within the top 25. Four of the nation's top six teams are from the SEC.

Drass says he thinks his team's performance will hold up in its new conference.

"You're going to learn how to deliver in the big meets," he said. "That only helps you become more consistent and deliver in the national championship." 

With underclassmen making up three-fourths of Missouri's current roster, the team will remain largely unchanged heading into next season.

"I think they're gaining confidence each and every meet," Drass said of his team's young core. "We're excited to bring them to the SEC. " 

Drass also said the lure of playing SEC teams should make it easier to build future teams. 

"The best gymnasts want to compete against the best gymnasts, so for recruiting, it's a good sell," he said.

The No. 16 Tigers will face another challenge this week as they host No. 3 Oklahoma at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Hearnes Center in their final Big 12 regular season matchup. 

Oklahoma is Missouri's highest-ranked opponent since the Tigers defeated Nebraska, No. 4 at the time and now No. 9, on the road on Jan. 28. 

Drass said he likes his team's chances on Friday.

"It's always nice to see a team before you go to a championship meet against them," he said. "I think we'll line up really well against Oklahoma."

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