Missouri’s depth shined the brightest on a day when no single Tiger took the spotlight.
Despite competing without some of their most well-rounded gymnasts Sunday, the Tigers set school records in the floor exercise and on the balance beam to beat Southeast Missouri State.
The No. 15 Tigers achieved their second-highest team score in school history, beating the Otahkians, 196.5-194.3, without any all-around competitors. Missouri coach Rob Drass said his team’s ability to fight past these obstacles impressed him.
“It says volumes about the depth of the team and about competing within the team in practice,” he said. “We can reload, reshuffle, get healthy, and bang out those scores.”
Regular all-around competitor Kelley Andersen, bothered by a right Achilles injury suffered during the Black and Gold scrimmage before last season, only competed on bars for Missouri (2-1). She fell during her routine and scored a 9.275.
Confidence issues plagued the Tigers’ other most reliable all-around athlete, Alisha Robinson. She competed only on the floor, scoring a 9.825, the Tigers’ lowest score in that event.
Drass did not hesitate to compete without any all-arounders. “We’re not going to sacrifice the entire team for one gymnast,” he said.
The Tigers were able to show off their depth. Freshman Whitney Crater won the vault with a 9.90 to tie Missouri’s fourth-highest all-time score. Fellow freshman Amanda Pezzullo also performed well, scoring a 9.85 on vault and 9.875 on the floor.
The Tigers saved their best routines for the floor, where Rachel Bridges and Andrea Nervig tied for second and led the Tigers with scores of 9.90. The 49.4 score on the floor is a new team high for the Tigers. SEMO’s Alexis Traylor won the individual title with a 9.925.
Missouri also set the school record on the beam with a score of 49.275. Lauren Schwartzman, coming off a 10.00 earlier this season, led the Tigers with a 9.90. SEMO’s Tara Boldt also scored a 9.90.
Missouri’s lowest team score came on the uneven bars, continuing a pattern of low bar scores this season for the Tigers, but Nervig (9.90) and Katie Roets (9.85) executed their routines well.
Drass said he believes that the bar scores will improve as the season continues.
Roets improved her scores from the Jan. 16 meet against New Hampshire. She finished second on bars and tied with teammate Lindsay Davis for third on beam.
“It’s neat to see where the team was five months ago,” Roets said. “Our goal is nationals now instead of just going meet to meet.”
The Tigers’ ability to compete through their lineup won the meet, Drass said. He also identified Jodie Heinicka, Lauren Owca and Sarah Zigler as three Tigers who will help the team later this season. Zigler scored a 9.825 on the exhibition bars against the Otahkians (3-1).
Boldt won the individual all-around competition for SEMO with a 39.150. Traylor won the floor exercise with a 9.925.