Motivated Tigers set more marks

Sunday, February 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:59 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Missouri knew it would be difficult to follow last week’s record-setting Cat Classic, the best gymnastics performance in school history. It was ready for another challenge this week, though.

Breaking the school uneven bars record and tying the school vault record in the process, No. 10 Missouri defeated No. 15 Arkansas 196.600-195.925 at Hearnes Center on Friday.

Alisha Robinson’s 9.975 on vault tied her Missouri record. It also helped the team to score 49.325, which broke the 49.250 record the Tigers (6-2) set Feb. 6 at the Cat Classic.

“Our team doesn’t go in there thinking we have to beat records,” Robinson said. “We just go in thinking we have to hit six routines for six; that’s what our coaches tell us and that’s all we worry about.”

Tigers solid on bars

All of the Tigers hit their routines on vault, and only Andrea Nervig missed on bars. Nervig, normally Missouri’s standard on bars, fell for the second straight meet, but her teammates scored 9.825 or higher to compensate, including Robinson’s 9.90.

“We’ve found some consistency (on bars),” coach Rob Drass said. “I think they’ve hit a nice groove. As everyone becomes solid there I think we can push it even higher.”

Tigers Sarah Zigler and Jodie Heinicka scored 9.875 to tie for second on bars, and Robinson won vault and bars. From that point on, though, the meet belonged to Lauren Schwartzman.

Schwartzman won the balance beam (9.925) and floor exercise (9.90), but said she was not content with her results.

“I think vault was low-scored and I think that my beam could have been better, and that my score could have reflected it a little bit better,” she said.

Drass said he understands his gymnasts’ frustration after the Cat Classic performance, but was less willing to blame the judges.

Team seeks perfection

“I think it’s exciting and frustrating as well,” Drass said. “We walk out of here feeling good about a score but not good about our performance, and yet we tied a vault record and set a bar record, and we’re still not satisfied, and I think that says a lot about the team … they’re chasing the perfect meet.”

Drass said watching the sharp drop in attendance was one of the most difficult parts of Friday’s meet. Only 817 fans attended the Arkansas meet, compared with more than 3,000 for both nights of the Cat Classic.

Schwartzman thought the disappointing attendance even affected the team’s scores.

“I think that our scores were a little bit higher last week because we had the crowd there,” she said. “The crowd pressures the judges to throw big scores, and they will throw bigger scores.”

After a perfect mount onto the balance beam, Robinson fell at the same point in her routine that she fell during the Cat Classic. The fall contributed to a 9.375 and ruined her chance to win the all-around. Cassie Drew’s 9.90 on beam helped her win the all-around for Arkansas.

“It’s never fun to lose from a fall,” Robinson said. “I slipped a series and I’ve had problems with that in practice and warm-ups all week and it brought me down.”

After losing beam, the Tigers’ only loss of the night, Missouri continued its series of strong performances on floor. Schwartzman led the team with a 9.90, and Nervig finished second with a 9.875. Robinson added a 9.85 for third.

Freshman Whitney Crater, an Arkansas native, scored a 9.80 on vault, continuing a strong first season. She said she had no qualms about competing against a team that had once recruited her.

“I’ve learned a lot so far here about gymnastics and competing in collegiate gymnastics,” she said. “I’m really excited to come here.”

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