Tigers high on scoring

Friday, February 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:37 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Even if Missouri loses all of its meets this season, the Tigers can be national champions.

Every gymnast on the MU squad knows that though it’s nice to defeat opponents, high scoring is what will propel the Tigers to bigger victories.

In gymnastics, a team’s top six all-around scores are averaged, with the highest score being subtracted, to obtain its regional qualifying score. Three of those top six scores must be from away meets. The top six teams in each of six regions advance to that region’s qualifier.

The Tigers are ranked second in the South Central Division.

From the regional meet, teams can advance to nationals, a goal of senior gymnast Lindsay Davis.

“I know that all of us seniors are really wanting to make nationals this year, because we haven’t done it,” Davis said. “It’s just come so far from my freshman year. We’re staying in the top of the rankings, so it makes it only more feasible that we can make it.”

Ranked 10th nationally, MU continues to fine-tune consistency during a highlight-sprinkled season. It continues against No. 15 Arkansas at 7 tonight at Hearnes Center.

“There’s an old saying where you show someone a jar filled with big rocks and you ask, ‘Is it full?’ and they answer ‘Yes,’” Missouri coach Rob Drass said. “Then you fill it with pebbles.

“Well, we’ve got the rocks. Now, we’re filling with pebbles. Hopefully in March and April we’ll fill with sand.”

After a rock solid 197.350 at the Cat Classic on Feb. 6, the Tigers are looking to subtract steps from landings and focus on form. In a sport that changes little from week to week, gymnasts spend most of their time working to improve execution and consistency.

“I’ve done the same bar routine for like, five years,” Davis said. “I’m not worried about making it. It’s just whether I keep it clean and stay down on landings, not taking any steps.”

To achieve consistency, mental practice techniques are useful. Sophomore Lauren Schwartzman finds them particularly beneficial on the balance beam. The team does minimal practice sets to prevent aggravating injuries. Then, it does “see-its” and “feel-its” under the tutelage of balance beam coach Kira Atkinson.

“A feel-it is just basically going through your dance on the beam but not doing any of your skills, so you know the positions that you should be in,” Schwartzman said. “A see-it is a mental set, so you can visualize what you want to do, so you can apply it to competition or your workout.

“I think it really helps us develop our mental aspect of competition; when you get there you’re not so nervous.”

If the Tigers can stay consistent, they should post high scores tonight.

“Arkansas is a newer program, so they don’t have quite the experience with the junior and senior class that we have,” Drass said. “But the athletes they do have on their team are very accomplished. So it should be a very close and tough meet.”

Arkansas also broke an all-around team score record with a 196.450 last weekend, but lost by .325 points to Louisiana State.

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