Missouri gymnastics wins nail-biter against Auburn

The Tigers put forth their best performance of the season, building confidence for the second half.

Missouri gymnastics found themselves in their final and best rotation, one routine away from victory against No. 19 Auburn. Junior Hannah McCrary, the team’s floor closer, spun, leaped, rolled and danced across the floor as her team stood at the border of the mat with anticipation.

She landed the first move of her routine, a front layout and Rudi, with all the flair of an arched back. Her team crept in further. She landed the second move, a double pike, and then the third, a switch side and Popa, and the Tigers surrounded the vault side of the mat, jumping with McCrary and mimicking her every move.

On the final move, McCrary hit her first hand against the mat, then her second, pushed herself upward and spun in the air. She landed and hit the mat in a glorious spectacle of pink and black, her arms outstretched for barely a second as she proceeded to greet her teammates charging the floor.

So ended a narrow victory for the Tigers, as they won the match 196.175 to 196.100.

“As soon as she landed her double pike, I knew she’d clutch the meet, I had no doubt in my mind she was going to do it.” senior Gabrielle Gottula said.

Confidence was the difference between this meet and others for Missouri during the third rotation, as both teams traded routines without ever gaining a significant edge.

“I think tonight was a good confidence builder for them,” coach Shannon Welker said, “You gotta get that first win, that first really good performance, and I thought tonight was a good performance.”

Missouri set its highest beam score (49.250) and its highest all-around score of the season.

Junior Alisa Sheremeta put up a career-high score of 9.950 on her beam performance, but Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne followed with a score of 9.925 on the floor. After Gottula scored a 9.700 on the floor, Auburn had three scores of above 9.800, to which Missouri responded by putting three scores of above 9.875, including McCrary’s winning routine.

“It felt awesome,” Sheremeta said, “I just kind of focused skill by skill, took it slowly, and it really helped me out today. Just having my team behind me too, it just helps a lot.”

Missouri put together a true team win. Amaya Marshall picked up her first all-around victory of her career, despite not leading in any of the four events. Sheremeta paced the squad on the beam and floor, while Sienna Schreiber took bars and Gottula took vault.

Freshmen Jena Swanson and Sydney Schaffer each posted outstanding scores as well, which helped to counter Auburn’s strong showing.

During the final rotation for Missouri, Swanson’s floor performance helped build momentum and confidence for the team going into their last couple routines.

“We try not to look at the scoreboard when we are competing, but at the same time it’s kind of hard.” Gottula said, “So we knew that we were neck and neck on the floor.”

Missouri showed improvement Friday night, but coach Welker wants his team to accomplish more.

“I felt good about tonight. It’s not as good as we could be, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Welker said, “I think that’s what tonight proved to our team.”

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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