Missouri gymnastics bested by all-time Arkansas performance

Although Arkansas’ took its second victory, Missouri looked as confident as it had all season.

It took the greatest night of gymnastics in Arkansas’ history to keep Missouri from a win on its best night of the season, as the Tigers fell 197.350 to 196.850.

While the Tigers lost handily, that did not reflect their performance. Missouri posted season highs in bars, vault and beam. Arkansas’ strong beam performance combined with a game-clinching floor performance pushed them to its highest score in program history.

It marked not only a historic night for the Razorbacks but also the most consistent night for a notoriously inconsistent Missouri squad.

The Razorbacks all but sealed Missouri’s loss in the third rotation, as the Tigers struggled to breach the 9.800 mark as they had done all night. Missouri desperately tried to regain its footing, but Arkansas compounded its lead with gymnast after gymnast posting elite-level scores. Going into the meet, Arkansas ranked No. 5 in the nation in the beam event.

In that crucial third rotation, the Tigers seemed to lose their focus for just a split second on every routine. One gymnast would miss her landing slightly, another would slip along the mat. Every minor detail that could possibly go wrong during a floor routine seemed to happen at one point or another.

While the Tigers’ didn’t pass the eye-test, their routines matched their season average and were a minor blemish to their best night of the season. It just wasn’t enough to overcome the Razorbacks. In the following rotation, Missouri’s renewed effort on the beam couldn’t reach Arkansas' floor routine as the gap between the two squads widened until the end of the meet.

Arkansas’ nearly set its program-record earlier this season, as it scored 197.250 in their loss against Florida.

The Tigers out-performed their first four meets by setting season highs in bars, beam and vault and raised their expectations for the rest of the season.

The Tigers had only four routines that exceeded a 9.900, so they relied heavily upon the entire lineup to perform at their highest level.

“We've been struggling with believing in how good we are and we've been inconsistent, that's really been the thing,” Missouri coach Shannon Welker said after the Auburn meet last Friday. “Tonight was a good confidence builder … It was a stepping stone for us.”

Missouri’s range of scores Friday night, which indicates consistency, was 0.275 points. Its range in the win against Auburn was 0.650.

Welker made more adjustments to his first and second rotations, and they seemed to help foster consistency through the lineups. Welker’s changes allowed the Tigers to start on their rotations off strong and put less pressure on their later routines to perform.

Both freshman Amaya Marshall and sophomore Sienna Schreiber put up career-high all-around scores, and senior Gabrielle Gottula posted two of Missouri’s four best scores. Junior Alisa Sheremeta also displayed prowess in her three events, scoring at or above a 9.800 in each.

Missouri will face No. 12 Georgia this Friday, in a three-way tie for No. 6 spot in the SEC with Georgia and Auburn.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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