Tigers hoping to leap from Arkansas into nation’s elite

A strong showing on the road could put MU in the top 20.
Thursday, March 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:22 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Missouri gymnastics team has a lot to accomplish this weekend.

The Tigers will compete at No. 15 Arkansas on Sunday. After recording its top three scores at Hearnes Center the team is heading south in with hopes of solidifying its place in the regional tournament. The Tigers need to beat their previous away-meet scores in order to regain their position in the top 20.

Missouri peaked at No. 19 after the Cat Classic, but dropped to No. 32 this week despite setting a season-high score at Hearnes Center on Friday against Southeast Missouri State.

National rankings in college gymnastics are based on a team’s regional qualifying score. A team’s RQS is determined by taking the top three home scores and the top three away scores. Then the highest of the six scores is thrown out and the remaining scores are averaged. The resulting number determines a team’s ranking for the week.

“If (the rankings) were voted on as other sports are, I think we would probably be a top 20 team,” coach Rob Drass said. “People know what we’ve been doing and how we’ve been doing it.”

Missouri began the season in what Drass describes as “a funk”, and the Tigers are still plagued by a low away-meet score from earlier this season Drass projects that this week’s performance will push the Tigers into the top 20, if they compete at the same level they have in recent weeks.

Senior Alisha Robinson, who struggled to start the season, has bounced back and is now leading the Tigers in most events. She won three individual events at the Cat Classic, and then claimed the all-around, bars and vault titles against SEMO.

Robinson was named Big 12 Conference Gymnast of the Week for the second time this season.

Although she has been battling arthritis in her elbow, Robinson’s routines have continued to score well. In the meet against SEMO, her floor routine was altered to allow her more comfort on the mat.

“We’re trying to find out what’s going to make her the healthiest so that she can perform her best on a consistent basis,” Drass said.

Other athletes on the team are also battling injuries. Sophomore Kelley Andersen bruised her left heel against Oklahoma Feb. 20, but has continued to compete despite the discomfort.

“At this point in the season health is as important as practice,” Drass said. “We have a lot of athletes who have great integrity and if they need to work then they’ll come in.”

The gymnasts were given the option of practicing Wednesday. Drass said his athletes know what is best for their bodies.

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