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Friends watch ‘Rudy’ to prepare for meets
Friday, March 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:32 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

While getting ready for the Cat Classic in February, Alisha Robinson and Lauren Schwartzman watched a movie about football.

Missouri set a school record with a 197.350 at the meet. Schwartzman won the balance beam competition and tied with Robinson for the vault title. Robinson won the all-around.

Now they watch “Rudy” before every meet.

“Alisha does my hair the day of the competition, and when she’s doing my hair we watch Rudy,” Schwartzman said. “She has it memorized, and I’m starting to catch up.”

High hopes

Although the No. 14 Tigers have their sights set on qualifying for the NCAA National Championship in April, first they will compete in Saturday’s Big 12 Conference Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa State, Nebraska and Oklahoma will compete against Missouri at 7 p.m. at Drake University. The Tigers came in third at last year’s championships.

No. 7 Iowa State and No. 11 Nebraska beat the Tigers this season, though Missouri upset No. 16 Oklahoma at home.

“Yeah, it would be nice to come in first or second at Big 12s,” Robinson said. “If something happens and we come in third or fourth, but if we make to nationals as a team, you know, we’ll be upset about Big 12s, but the big picture is making it to nationals.”

Robinson and Schwartzman, who hold several MU records, performed fourth and fifth in event lineups nearly all season.

Driving scores higher

Following each other on vault, balance beam and floor exercise, the women motivate each other and, more importantly, judges.

If Schwartzman executes a near-perfect vault and is awarded a 9.9, then a similar or better vault by Robinson would have to be awarded the same or better score. Coaches often tinker with lineups to increase scores in this way. Coach Rob Drass did it with his vault lineup against Oklahoma.

“When I go before her, she knows that I can hit,” Schwartzman said. “We set each other up really well. You want to follow someone you’re confident in.”

Robinson and Schwartzman not only drive scores, but also each other. They have different styles and tastes, but their talent and work ethic brings them together. Robinson has an athletic approach and performs her floor routine to music from the movie “Gladiator.”

“The music itself is just powerful because that’s how she is,” Schwartzman said.

Schwartzman, who has an affinity for dance, performs routines filled with dance elements.

Varied approaches

The gymnasts’ different approaches are evident even in practice warm-ups, done to popular music. Schwartzman, in the second of four rows of MU gymnasts, stays on the beat through the aerobic routine, but Robinson warms up in the last row and doesn’t worry about staying on pace.

Teammates have approached both for advice about how to approach events.

“She’s known in the gym to be the beam queen, while I’m known to be the vault queen,” Robinson said. “We can relate to each other in ways like that, that maybe some of the other gymnasts can’t relate to us.

“Sometimes they’ll just be like, ‘Oh, you’re so talented,’ but when somebody says that, Bunny (Schwartzman) knows exactly what the feeling is when someone tells you something like that.”

They are so close that Schwartzman, who is from Texas, spends Easters at Robinson’s home in Bates City.

“She’s kind of my adopted family,” Schwartzman said. “Her mom did an Easter egg hunt for us last year; her dad hid the eggs in the front yard.”


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