Gymnasts take third in tourney

It is only fitting that a gymnastics meet bearing Shakespeare's name included a star-studded cast.

Four of the five teams that competed the eighth-annual Shakespeare's Festival are in the top 25: 10th-ranked Michigan State, 12th-ranked Louisiana State, 17th-ranked Missouri and 22nd-ranked Illinois State. Western Michigan closed out the field.

Michigan State came into the Hearnes Center as the favorite and didn't disappoint.

The Spartans rolled to a 190.95-189.05 victory over LSU behind a one-two finish from Erin Mullen (38.625) and Carolyn Hecht (38.45). Missouri finished in the middle of the pack with a score of 187.675. Illinois State and Western Michigan rounded out the competition with scores of 185.875 and 182.85, respectively.

Missouri had a few bright spots individually, as junior Jessica Haag (37.575) finished sixth overall, senior Charise Schrupp (28.75) was 12th and sophomore Alison Akers was 13th (28.65).

The Tigers sent four gymnasts to the medal stand in individual events. In the vaulting competition, Schrupp (9.675) and Haag (9.65) finished two-three. Schrupp tied for first on the floor exercise with LSU's Kellye Smith, finishing with a dazzling 9.775.

In the gutsiest performance of the day, Missouri junior Amanda Peterson tied for third on the uneven parallel bars with LSU freshman Sharene Mamby. A second-degree sprain in her left ankle hampered Peterson, the defending all-around champion and arguably MU's best gymnast. She had trouble walking just days before, but she put the injury out of her mind to score a 9.725 on her only event.

"We need to get Peterson back in all four events," said coach Jake Jacobsen. "That would help us."

Schrupp was proud of the team, despite the third-place finish, especially because of the stiff competition.

"Competing against top teams like that really helps us know where we're at," Schrupp said. "It shows us our weaknesses and what we need to improve. We don't want to compete against mediocre because then we'll only give mediocre performances."

Jacobsen agreed with Schrupp's assessment.

"LSU's a good team, Michigan State's a very good team and we're right in there with them, too," Peterson said. "LSU's coach [Sarah 'D-D' Breaux] told me she thought Mizzou looked very good, and she thought we were going to win the meet. You get another coach telling you you look good, that's good."

The Tigers (3-2) leave today for a tri-meet with Pittsburgh (0-1) and Ursinus (0-4).

MU defeated Pittsburgh 190.975-188.20 last year at Hearnes.

The Tigers will return to the Hearnes Center on Feb. 6 for the 18th annual Cat Classic.

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