Consistency is what head coach Shannon Welker wanted to see in his team. And this week, Missouri gymnastics delivered.
The Tigers’ meet last Friday was riddled with falls and inconsistencies, but across the board, the team tuned up its performance in all four events. While No. 21 MU fell 197.550-196.850 to No. 7 Alabama on Friday night at the Coleman Coliseum, it earned an all-around season-best score.
“We don’t have to be perfect to be a good team,” Welker said. “Tonight proved that point.”
Freshman Helen Hu suffered two falls at the Tigers’ last meet, one where she fell about 13 feet from the high bar. The falls were “uncharacteristic” of Hu, Welker said last week.
But Friday night in Tuscaloosa was different.
Hu pulled a 9.900, good for third place, hitting tight handstands at the top of the bar and fluidly connecting her skills from the high to low bar. After a double tuck dismount, Hu flashed a huge smile and ran to hug her teammates.
Redshirt senior Morgan Porter also made a comeback on bars. With a solid stick, she earned a 9.850. The Tigers tallied a 48.950, trailing behind Alabama’s 49.450.
“We had a mistake on bars and on floor but we stayed aggressive after those mistakes and didn’t let it impact us,” Welker said, referring to a fall.
Coming after strong vault scores last Friday, MU gymnastics kept up their performance against the Crimson Tide.
Judges look for a vault that hits a high height off the table, travels a far distance onto the mat and lands with an unwavering stick. Sophomore Hannah McCrary’s vault hit all the marks. She earned a 9.925, a season-best and career-high and took second place.
Before McCrary, four of her teammates earned scores above 9.800. Freshman Kambrie Brandt, who competes an unusual vault where she hits the springboard with her body facing forward rather than backward, tied with her season-high of a 9.850.
Porter and Junior Gabrielle Gottula, for the second week, maintained high vault scores, both earning 9.825 on the event. Despite beating their own team score from last week, MU gymnastics fell slightly behind Alabama with a 49.250.
“We vaulted really well again tonight. That’s been a good event for us and we’ve made a lot of progress since last year,” Welker said.
Floor brought what Welker was looking for: Consistency.
While Alabama swept first place, freshman Sienna Schreiber, McCrary and Porter dominated their routines, all earning 9.900. From behind the sidelines of the floor, their teammates danced along with the athletes choreography. At one point, Senior Mary Nicholson raised a stuffed tiger into the air.
McCrary, who ends her routine throwing her body backward into a double layout with a half twist, landed a season-best and career-high.
The Tigers pulled a 49.350 on floor, just behind Alabama’s 49.475. Welker said he classifies a 49.200 or better as “pretty good” performance on an event.
MU made a revival on beam this week without major wobbles.
Porter, who mounts the beam in a press handstand where she pushes only off her hands, straddling her legs around into a handstand, made it cleanly through her routine. She earned a 9.875, a season-best.
Ranking fifth in the nation on beam, Hu again performed a consistent routine. She earned first place with a 9.950, tying with her career-high and upping her score from last week’s meet.
Sophomore Alisa Sheremeta made a season-high 9.850 on the event. The Tigers tallied a 49.300 on beam, beating Alabama’s 49.250.
MU will compete in the Mardi Gras Invitational at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 9 LSU, No. 18 Iowa State and Lindenwood at Family Arena in St. Charles.