Missouri gymnastics closes season at SEC Championship

Saturday, March 22, 2014 | 10:49 p.m. CDT; updated 6:50 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 24, 2014

The Missouri gymnastics team closed its season Saturday at the Southeastern Conference Championship in Birmingham, Ala. — the same state they opened it. 

The Tigers' first meet, against Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 10, didn't go Missouri's way. Its team score of 193.425 was the team's lowest score of the season. 

On Saturday, the Tigers showed signs they had improved as a team: their team score of 194.650 in Birmingham was their fourth-highest total of the season. But in a meet that contained a number of the country's best gymnasts, Missouri was clearly out-matched, finishing eighth out of eight teams. 

The Tigers, who entered the meet ranked No. 38, competed in the first session of the meet in the afternoon with No. 12 Auburn, No. 15 Arkansas and Kentucky. No. 1 Florida, No. 2 LSU, No. 4 Alabama and No. 6 Georgia competed in the second session of the evening. 

Alabama won the meet with a score of 197.875. Florida finished second with a score of 197.700. 

Missouri slipped out of regional qualifying contention last Friday against Florida. The team was competing for its first win over a conference opponent since last year's SEC Championship, when the Tigers finished seventh, one spot ahead of last place Kentucky. 

They will have to wait at least another year for that victory. 

Missouri junior Rachel Updike returned for Missouri after missing the three previous meets due to injury. Updike leads the team in all-around average and on the vault in Regional Qualifying Average. 

In her first meet in a month, Updike scored a team-high 9.900 on the vault, which tied for sixth-highest meet-wide. Updike also competed on the balance beam and scored another team high of 9.825. 

Missouri performed best as a team on the uneven bars. Led by junior Rebecca Johnson, the Tigers posted a team score of 49.000 in the event, the fifth time they reached the 49-point mark this season. 

The meet was the last for Mackenzie McGill, a Missouri senior who was a regular starter on the balance beam this season. McGill was named to the 2014 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team, which highlights student-athletes whose community service efforts stand out above the rest. 

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