Tigers third at Big 12 meet

Sunday, March 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:37 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa – Missouri beat Oklahoma during the regular season, but not at the Big 12 Conference Championship.

Oklahoma won the title Saturday with 196.95 points, defeating Iowa State (196.925), Missouri (196.425), and Nebraska (196.175) at Drake’s Knapp Center.

Missouri had defeated Oklahoma 197.00-196.750 on Feb. 29 at Hearnes Center.

Conservative judging kept the No. 14 Tigers from breaking a record, something they have done at almost every meet. Nonetheless, Alisha Robinson won the vault and Lauren Schwartzman won the balance beam.

Small margins characterized Saturday’s meet. Judges kept scores low but failed to separate gymnasts. There was a tie for first or second on every apparatus, and no event was without a tie of three or more gymnasts.

“To be down in the 196s is a dose of reality as far as what we’re going to be getting at the NCAA Regionals because they’re going to try to separate the teams,” MU coach Rob Drass said. “Now when they do that, it doesn’t always separate the individuals. What happened there was just amazing; a nine-way tie (on vault) for fourth place, that’s ridiculous.”

Missouri upset the No. 11 Huskers, the first time the Tigers have beaten the Huskers, who have won the Big 12 title for the past three years. MU has beaten every team in the Big 12 once.

Missouri held the lead after the first and second rotations, but falls on the uneven bars and balance beam cost the Tigers during the final two rotations.

“Bars and beam are the skill events,’’ Drass said. “As your nerves kick in there, it’s easier to have a little mishap or two. As we put that together, we weren’t really surprised to be winning after two events, but we were disappointed we didn’t do a little bit better on those last two events and really finish it out.”

As Andrea Nervig saluted the judges to start her routine on the uneven bars, no one cheered her harder than Jodie Heinicka.

“Let’s go baby, right here, let’s get it done,” Heinicka said.

Moments earlier, the typically high-scoring Heinicka had fallen off the upper bar during a release, costing her at least half a point, the margin Missouri led Nebraska, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 7 Iowa State.

Nervig stuck for a 9.825 and Missouri dropped Heinika’s 9.1, but the resulting 48.950 did not keep the Tigers in the lead.

Inconsistencies continued to plague the Tigers on balance beam. Their lineup was uncharacteristically wobbly, for senior Lindsay Davis fell twice, earning an 8.425. Miranda Boeckman followed with a career-high 9.9. Her score set up Robinson who earned a 9.675.

“Once I saw Lindsay Davis fall, I knew I had to get in the zone, and I had to do my best routine,” Boeckman said.

Boeckman has not consistently appeared in the Tigers’ beam lineup.

“I’ve been giving it my all in practice,” she said. “Working extra hard, doing extra numbers. I think it’s beginning to pay off because my performances are getting better and better. That was not something I expected at all as a freshman, to place at all at Big 12s much less get on the Big 12 team.”

Schwartzman, the Tigers’ best performer on beam, was next and was coming off of a 10.0 at the Texas Women’s meet, her second this season. Schwartzman had no problem earning a 9.925 for one of only two sole firsts.

“I think the skills I have in my beam routine are by themselves are set apart from everyone else’s,’’ Schwartzman said. “That’s one of the coolest things about tonight, is that it was recognized that I have different skills.”

Missouri started the meet on the floor exercise. Although it matched its average score of 49.250, Davis and Kelley Anderson were given their lowest scores this season.

“Floor is one of those events that the scores tend to escalate, so it was a rough draw to start on floor,’’ Drass said. “That’s why it’s nice to finish on floor as a home team.”

On vault, the Tigers’ performance appeared as solid as it is at home, but its 49.200 showed how hard it is to earn high scores on the road. Robinson performed well enough for a 9.95, putting her in a two-way tie for first with the Sooners’ Ashley Cooney.

“I’m happy just because if you look around, a lot of the girls that scored one place below me have scored 10s,” Robinson said. “I’m just glad I got what I got for the vault that I did. Can’t complain, considering how tight the vault scores were.”

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