Reviewin' & Previewin' - Gymnastics

Here's hoping everyone had a great (long) holiday weekend and is back to work safely.  This week, the previewin' and reviewin' continues the winter season and turns to the friendly confines of the Hearnes Center.  Coach Rob Drass starts his 10th season as the head coach of the Tigers, who have had only two in the last coaches in the program's history.  How did the 2008-2009 version of the squad measure up?  Could they finally make it to the NCAA's?  Would they crown in All-American?  What can they expect in 2009-2010?  All of this...and mo...well...probably all of this will be answered this week.  I'll also see about peppering in some random thoughts and that is how we will kick off July.  But first, a little bit about each event.

  • Floor Exercise - About how it sounds.  The gymnast competes in tumbling passes in a choreographed routine
  • Balance Beam - 4 inches wide and you cannot fall off...'nuff said
  • Vault - Gymnasts run full speed, then launch off a trampoline and further propel off a stationary appartus
  • Unever parallel bars - Two bars of different heights which gymnasts will spin around and release from before dismounting
  • All-Around - A gymnast competing in all four events during a meet

The 2008-2009 Season

Final National Ranking: 17th
Final Conference Ranking: 3rd
Final Record: 16-2 (best winning percentage in program history)
Big XII Champions: 4 (Sarah Shire - All-Around, Vault and Beam, Adrianne Perry - floor)
NCAA Participants: 2
NCAA All-American Honors: 3 (Adrianne Perry - 1st team All-Around and 2nd team on floor exercise.  Sarah Shire - 1st team on vault)

Seniors Lost: 2 (out of 14)
2009 Roster Breakdown by Year: 5 seniors, 3 juniors, 4 sophomores, 3 freshmen

The Tigers had a ton of both personal and team achievements in 2008-2009.  They ascended as high as 10th during the season before settling at 17th, with not one, but two All-Americans, including the first ever as an All-Around gymnast.  They also had the dominant gymnast of the Big XII, as evidence by SIX weekly awards.  They won at the best percentage in the programs pretty illustrious 30 year history, including a senior night win against the #9 squad in the country.  So let's break it down...

While only two are graduating from the squad, they are about as important of a two as you could have for a few different reasons.  For Alicia Hatcher,she leaves as a two-time All Big XII gymnast, three-time member of the All Big XII academic team, member of the Mizzou '39 and "We are Mizzou" Female Athlete of the Year.  A true leader on the mat and everywhere else.  The other senior, Adrianne Perry, leaves the mat perhaps as the best gymnast in Mizzou history.  She was the first ever Big XII champion for Mizzou in the All-Around, and a two-time event champion, while also becoming the first ever All-American (top 12) at the NCAA's.

So, what is the team bringing back?  Upcoming senior Sarah Shire had one of the best seasons on record of any Mizzou gymnast.  She won All-Around title after All-Around title, and won most of the Gymnast of the Week honors for the season.  In fact, her high scores on each event were all above a 9.900.  She will be regarded as one of the best gymnasts in the country coming back for her senior year, looking to become the 2nd gymnast in Mizzou history to place as an All-American in the All-Around.  Junior-to-be Alex Gold returns as a floor and (especially) vault specialist, while teammate Lauren Stephenson saw action last season on the vault as well.  The team will also be anchored future seniors Becky Scholle on the vault and the bars, Liz Straatman on the bars and Danielle Guider on the beam, floor and vault (perhaps to replace Perry in the All-Around).  Sophomore-to-be Mary Burke will be returning as an All-Around'er and she got better as her freshman season progressed.  She will also be joined by teammate Allie Heizelman who specialized on the bars.

That's plenty of returning talent (especially on the bars and vault), and there is some additional talent coming to Como.  Coach Drass signed a class of three, and the coach is particularly high on Tori Howard who may be able to participate in the vault and maybe the All-Around.  If the team can find some folks to help out on the floor and the beam, they should be in decent shape.  The next step for this program is to find people capable of sticking all five routines in a rotation (even though only four count).  When the team does that and they can kick their average up by maybe a quarter of a point per rotation (and yes, that is all that you need sometimes), then this team can take the next step, which will be a Big XII title of getting past the NCAA Regionals to the Championships.

Random Thoughts:

  • It is worth watching Joe Dirt to see Brittany Daniel get off of that horse
  • I am quite certain I currently own more New Glarus beer than anyone outside the state of Wisconsin
  • Tough weekend for raccoons out there on the highways and byways of 'Merica...I lost count of how many I saw in the middle and sides of roads
  • Speaking of varmits...my parents' house seems to be the home turf of an albino squirrel...very strange
  • Fever for outdoor Gopher football is at quite the high level currently up north
  • For those of you who both tailgate with me and had the pleasure of meeting my friend Jeffrey will be in for a small treat/homage come the first football game...thanks to the Mall of America (and no sales tax on clothing)
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