Tigers find vault lineup hard to crack

Several vaulters are capable of gaining perfect scores.
Sunday, February 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:37 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

As Missouri toils to solidify inconsistent performances on the uneven bars, a seasonlong challenge, record scoring on another apparatus has become increasingly dependable.

The Tigers vault so well, Lindsay Davis, who won the Big 12 Conference Championship vault title in 2003 with a 9.9, has trouble breaking into the vault lineup.

Alisha Robinson, the Tigers’ top vaulter, is ranked first in the South Central Region and seventh in the nation on vault. Lauren Schwartzman and Amanda Pezzullo, MU’s other leading vaulters, are also ranked nationally.

Every gymnast in the Tigers’ vault lineup performs a vault that has a 10.0 start value.

Oklahoma, which MU faces at 2 p.m. today at HearnesCenter, has one or two gymnasts who have vaults valued at 10.0, Tigers coach Rob Drass said.

Several other MU gymnasts who are trying to break into the lineup can also vault at a 10.0 level, making for strong competition among teammates.

“It creates a great atmosphere in the gym because you have to compete every single day for your starting spot,” Drass said.

Top vaulters show consistency

The Tigers’ three leading vaulters have hit 23 of 23 vaults this season, and have yet to score below a 9.8. As the Tigers, ranked fourth in the South Central Region, compete for a spot at the NCAA regional, dependable performances becomes increasingly vital.

“They really have been the workhorses of the vault team and have consistently been the people we rely on to go out and post the big scores,” Drass said. “This part of the season, it becomes very important that we are confident in what we do, very consistent in what we do and start to see the scores maxing out.”

Pezzullo, among the younger vaulters in the Tigers’ lineup, said she enjoys the challenge of keeping her spot from week to week, though this late in the season, work on landings become the focus.

“Its nice to have people like Alisha that you always want to look up to them and try and make it up to their standard,” she said.

Gymnasts practice vault for more than a year

Robinson, like her teammates, has performed the same vault for at least a year.

“This year I’m more comfortable with it so I can make it bigger, and focus more on the landing,” she said. “I can focus on all the little details like pushing through my shoulders.”

Little details will likely determine the outcome of today’s meet, Drass said.

“It’s going to come down to who lands more dismounts and sticks them,’’ he said. “If we hit I think we’re probably a little better than they are.”

The Sooners are ranked second in the South Central Region and outrank the Tigers nationally on bars, floor and beam.

“They’re a little better bar team than we are as far as a consistency point of view,” Drass said. “We’re a little more inconsistent than I’d like to be.”

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