COLUMBIA — The Missouri gymnastics team will have to worry about more than the No. 3 Florida Gators when they begin competition at Hearnes Center for the final time this season Friday.
Only the top 36 schools in the country qualify for a spot at NCAA Regionals. Missouri has neared the cutoff line in recent weeks, falling from No. 32 to No. 34 last week, and from No. 34 to a three-way tie with West Virginia and Utah State for No. 35 this week.
If the regular season ended today, Missouri would grab the last qualifying spot.
The first tiebreaker is a team's highest score in the regular season. The Tigers' high of 195.725, which came on Feb. 21 against George Washington, is below West Virginia's high (196.175) but above Utah State's high (195.525).
A score above 194.525 at either of Missouri's two remaining meets would raise its Regional Qualifying Score, which determines the top 36 teams. The qualifying score only takes into account the top six finishes by a team, three of which must be from away meets.
A score below the 194.525 cutoff in the Florida meet would not change the Tigers' qualifying score. Their last opportunity to improve their RQS would be at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Birmingham, Ala., starting March 22.
The Gators enter Friday's meet boasting the country's top-ranked gymnast, sophomore Bridget Sloan. Sloan is the first gymnast to win the all-around at the world, national and NCAA championships — her world and national titles came in 2009, and she is the reigning NCAA title holder. Sloan also earned a silver medal for competing for the U.S. in Beijing in 2008.
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.