Music provides focus, inspiration for Missouri gymnasts

Friday, March 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Missouri gymnast Cathryn Aliceaacosta begins her routine against Georgia last Friday at the Hearnes Center.

COLUMBIA — With their sights set on the postseason, Missouri gymnasts are focusing on the little things.

That includes making sure they hit all their handstands, nail their landings and keep their toes pointed, junior Mackenize McGill said.

Meet at Arkansas

Missouri will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday to face Arkansas, Lindenwood and Centenary College of Louisiana in their second quad meet of the season.

The meet follows Missouri's 196.825-194.550 loss to Georgia last Friday. The Tigers put up a season high score of 48.800 on the floor at the meet. Several Tigers set or matched personal career high scores as well, including sophomore Rachel Updike with a 9.950 on the vault, senior Tori Howard with a 9.875 on the vault, freshman Miranda Eubank with a 9.775 on the vault, and junior Taylor Medrea with a 9.800 on the floor.

Missouri has competed against Arkansas nine times with an overall record of 5-4 in the series. The Tigers have a perfect 16-0 record against Centenary. Lindenwood is in its inaugural season, so this will be Missouri's first meeting with the school.

A replay of the Arkansas meet will air on Fox Sports Net at 11 p.m. March 9.

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But one thing the gymnasts don't have to worry about is their "beam song," the song that plays while they perform their balance beam routines.

After choosing the song at the beginning of the season, the gymnasts perform to it for the season's duration. Having one song to rely on helps "get the jitters out," freshman Rachel Henderson said.

The songs allow the gymnasts to show off their personalities. Henderson performs to "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood. Henderson, who like the singer is an Oklahoma native, says Christian and country songs help calm her and get her "in the zone."

But not everyone finds inspiration from country music. Junior Cathryn Aliceaacosta prefers pop music and performs to Five For Fighting's "Chances."

"It was in the movie 'The Blind Side,' and it was inspiring and motivational," Aliceaacosta said. "I'm not that big of a country fan," she added with a laugh.

Despite the thought that goes into choosing the "beam songs," the gymnasts are often so focused during meets they don't hear the music, McGill said.

"The arena pretty much goes silent," she said. "The crowd and the music all gets blacked out. It's pretty cool, actually."

The Tigers will take this focus to Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday to face Arkansas, Lindenwood and Centenary College of Louisiana. With the NCAA regional meet only a few weeks away, the Tigers hope to improve their Regional Qualifying Score, Tigers coach Rob Drass said.

The RQS is based on scores from a team's top six regular season meets, three of which must be from away meets. The top score is dropped, and the remaining five scores are averaged. The Tigers hope to score high enough Friday to eliminate their 193.000 score at the Air Force Quad Meet from their top six scores, Drass said.

"If we get the little things right, our scores will climb," he said.

The team hopes to contribute to the exciting atmosphere of what would be its first postseason in the Southeastern Conference, McGill said.

With their variety of "beam songs," it's clear they'd have plenty to offer.

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.

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