Robinson a hit for Tigers

Monday, March 1, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:42 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

While the Yankees have A-Rod, the Missouri gymnastics team has A-Rob.

Alisha Robinson has been the leader on the floor for Missouri during its most prolific season. She holds the team’s high scores in vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise and has the distinction of being the team’s all-around competitor.

Recently, however, a crack in the skin of her left big toe has upset Robinson’s beam routine. She fell Feb 13. against Arkansas and did not compete on beam last week on the road against Utah State, Boise State and BYU.

“I just wasn’t cutting it in practice,” Robinson said.

She changed her series this week in practice to take pressure off her injured toe, and came back with a 9.90 on beam Sunday against Oklahoma. The score helped her team to its highest beam score, a key to the Tigers’ win against the Sooners.

“I really didn’t think I was going to get that on beam,” she said. “(Missouri assistant coach Kira Atkinson) always says I look at the worst things in my routine. I always think it’s ten times worse than it actually is.”

Robinson also said that she will switch between her two beam routines to find the best result as her toe begins to heal.

“(A toe injury) doesn’t affect you when you’re doing all the power skills, but on beam when you’re doing skills for perfection, a little here and there can really throw you off,” Tigers coach Rob Drass said.

Robinson’s lowest score against Oklahoma came on her normally steady floor routine. She said a large balance check on her first pass affected the rest of her routine.

“I’m just pulling out of my back handspring too fast,” she said. “It’s the same skill I almost killed myself on earlier in the year, but I don’t seem to have the problem on the road.”

Robinson said she is looking forward to the nearing postseason, but she is trying to help her improved team as well as her individual scores, a change from past years.

“You get to regionals, and everything could change from there,” she said. “You either do it there or you don’t.”

Drass said he recognizes Robinson’s potential to lead in practice as well as during competition. “I think she’s starting to feel good about the new routine she’s doing,” Drass said. “She’s starting to gain confidence, and I think as that comes she can be a better leader with the team.”

Robinson also led her team on the vault Sunday with a 9.90, a bright spot in the Tigers’ second worst vault score of the season (49.075), and added a 9.85 on bars.

TIGERS STEAL FIRST BIG 12 WIN: Despite being ranked No. 14, Missouri is listed below the three other Big 12 Conference teams.

The Tigers lost their meets to No. 6 Iowa State and No. 7 Nebraska earlier in the season.

Their first conference win came after a close dual meet Sunday against No. 8 Oklahoma.

“Looking at Missouri today, they should be in the top 10,” Oklahoma coach Steve Nunno said. “We know if we make a mistake in the Big 12 any team can lose… it’s a testament to the strength of our conference.”

Tensions will be high at the conference championships this year as all four teams are capable of taking home the title this season.

“Last year everyone came in knowing that Nebraska would win,” Robinson said. “This year no one knows who’s going to win; it’s going to be a toss-up.”

Drass is looking forward to capping off Missouri’s record-breaking season with a Big 12 title.

“For the first time since I’ve been here I think we have a good shot of competing and winning the conference crown,” he said.

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