The coaches have been preparing the Missouri gymnasts for Saturday’s Black and Gold Meet, but the gymnasts have also been preparing their friends.
The crowd was far from a sellout, but many who did show up were there because their friends on the team asked them to be.
MU freshman Kyle Gibson was near the balance beam with two signs. One reading: “Go Meg and Liz,” the other reading, “Whoo.” Gibson knows freshman gymnasts Meghann Raub and Liz Straatman from the residence halls. He is also a pitcher on the Missouri baseball team.
“Everyone that we saw, we were like, ‘Come to the meet,’” Raub said. “He was like ‘I’m going to make you a sign.’”
A couple groups of friends showed up to support Raub, which was a welcome change. At home in Indiana, Raub’s club was an hour and a half away, so her friends weren’t able to get to the meets very often. She and the other freshman said they did a lot of recruiting by handing out schedules in the residence halls and spreading the word in the dining halls.
Sitting on the opposite side of the arena was Missouri football player Martin Rucker and two friends. Rucker said he knows a lot of the gymnasts, but senior Whitney Crater reminded them to come Saturday.
One Missouri freshman didn’t even have to remind one of her friends to come. MU freshman Casey Adams went to high school with freshman gymnast Becky Scholle, but he had never seen her compete, or even watched a gymnastics meet, until Saturday.
“I’d always heard she was so good and I wanted so see how good she actually was,” Adams said. “So far, she has upheld what she’s told me in the past. She is definitely a stud.”
The Missouri coaches tried to better prepare the team for the early meets this year by starting intersquad competitions in practice a month earlier this season. The Tigers used to start intersquads in December, but this year they started in November. Coach Rob Drass said the team is about where he thought it would be at this point. But some of the fans were more impressed.
Saturday was Crater’s first meet since tearing her Achilles tendon last April, and Rucker was surprised at how much she has recovered.
“She looks great,” Rucker said. “I just saw her warming up on floor and she did one of her old moves, and I didn’t know she was that far along. So I’m excited for her.”
Gibson was so impressed by his first-ever gymnastics meet that he definitely plans to go again.
“I look out there and I just see how challenging it is and I’m like ‘Wow, baseball is a piece of cake competed to this,’” Gibson said. “I feel like I’ve got it easy when I see these girls doing all these flips and timbles and everything. It just kind of makes you googley-eyed a little bit watching them.”