I’m back to preview the evening’s gymnastics matchup since Mizzou is a #gymnasticsschool and they are so much fun to watch. This is going to be an exciting one, y’all. What’s that saying? “The be the best, you have to beat the best?” Well, here’s their first chance because Florida is G-O-O-D and features a couple of gymnasts capable of getting perfect 10s on multiple apparatuses (apparati?), so the competition will be fierce.
A 197 team score still remains elusive for our Tigers in the early season, but they’re creeping steadily closer. They’re currently ranked no. 15 nationally (same as the week prior), and are 6th in the SEC, 2nd in the SC region. As you’ll see later on in this preview, they are trending up in some events, so it’s just putting it all together all at once.
The Gators of Florida, meanwhile, comes in at no. 3, which is best in the SEC and in the SE region. Let’s get to the preview, shall we?
When: Friday, February 10
Where: Exactech Arena @ Stephen C. O’Connell Center | Gainesville, FL
Time: 6 p.m. CST
TV: SEC Network
Stats: [i’ll fill this in when it shows up]
- History: In the all-time series against Florida, the Tigers have only walked away with one victory. In their previous dual matchup, the Tigers set a new program-high team score of 197.650 in a narrow defeat.
Last Time On The Mats
When we last saw our Tigers, they faltered against No. 10 Kentucky at home in front of 2,179 fans at Hearnes for Girl Power night. Mizzou started off great, earning their best vault score of the season by 3/10ths of a point (that’s a lot in gymnastics), and also did well on bars. But as Kentucky faltered some on both floor and beam routines, Mizzou just couldn’t keep it together and close the gap, recording their worst beam score of the season. It was very un-Beam Queen like. Of course, I’m not sure anyone can blame them for the shaky performances on that apparatus, as Addison Lawrence (who also fell on the UB in the rotation prior) took a SCARY fall on the beam where her head was precipitously close to smacking both the beam and the ground. The crowd gasped. Hannah McCrary, Sienna Schreiber and Alisa Sheremeta, normally sure-footed on the apparatus, almost took tumbles themselves but were able to remain on the beam. Because of the aforementioned fall though, the Tigers had to keep each of their scores (a 9.500 and 2x 9.700— very un-Mizzou like beam scores). Missouri did rebound on floor, however, but the damage was done, and they ultimately lost by 0.65.
Some highlights from the good. And when they were good, you guys, they were very good.
Firing on all cylinders...— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 10, 2023
Ready for tomorrow #MIZ pic.twitter.com/nC2dedaHHU
Last time out for the Gators, they faced the Jordan Wieber-led Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville and came away with their second highest score of the season, 197.875, while also scoring season-highs on the bars and beam.
What To Expect At The Venue
The O’Connell Center is home to men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving, and volleyball. Exactech Arena is specifically used for the land sports, as the natatorium has its own section of O’Connell. Exactech’s capacity is 10,151, and the storied UF gymnastics program does a great job filling it. They are averaging 9.255 in attendance so far this season, with a max crowd on hand of 9,676. The MBB could only hope to fill that many seats right now.
Matchups to Keep an Eye on
While there aren’t individual head-to-head matchups, I thought it was an interesting to share the no. 1 vs the no. 1, no. 2 vs no. 2, etc. And a wild card if one is warranted. Mizzou is listed second, in case you aren’t yet familiar with the names. Scores in parentheses are their highest of the season.
Floor: Trinity Thomas (10.0) vs. Amari Celestine (9.925) | Leanne Wong (9.975) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.925) | Valerie Nguyen (9.925) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.925) | Rachel Bauman (9.925) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.925) | Payton Richards (9.925) vs. Sienna Schreiber (9.9) | Wild Card: Lori Brubach (9.85) OR Kayla DiCello (9.825) vs. Alonna Kratzer (9.85)
FLORIDA— Trinity’s average score is higher than any Mizzou athlete’s highest score on FX. so there’s that. Won maxed out at the 9.975 on 1/13, but normally scores between a 9.875 and 9.9. Nguyen typically scores in the high 9.8 to low 9.9 range so she’s pretty consistent. But after that trio, there’s really a whole lot of wildcards in the mix. Bauman got her highest score the first meet but has been in the mid to upper 9.8s since then. Richards has only performed on this apparatus twice. Brubach and DiCello are listed as WC because the former has been trending slightly downward each time she participates in this event so far this season, and that latter has only competed once.
MISSOURI— Amari Celestine, the Tigers’ 2nd Team All-American a year ago, and her average (9.917) very closely mirrors her high score. She tied her high score against Kentucky sporting a gold faux-hawk, so I’ll be interested to see how she does this evening, and what her hair looks like! Alisa also tied her high score last week, so we can expect great things from her. The top 5 (i.e. all the counting scorers) all have a legitimate shot to score a 9.9 or higher if they’re “on”, which is huge for the Tigers. The entire Mizzou lineup in this event is remarkably consistent on FX. This will be a fun one to watch.
Beam: Leanne Wong (10.0) vs. Helen Hu (9.95) | Trinity Thomas (10.0) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.95) | Kayla DiCello (9.95) vs. Grace Anne Davis (9.9) | Elli Lazarri (9.9) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.875) | Payton Richards (9.875) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.85) | WC: Sloane Blakely (9.8) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.725) OR Sydney Schaffer (9.75)
FLORIDA— Should the Tigers perform at their highest level, the one that earned them the title of “Beam Queens”, the beam could be very closely contested. Leanne Wong has scored a 10 TWICE on beam already this season. Her worst score of the season? 9.9, which is better than Mizzou’s no. 3-5. Trinity, the other perfect 10 scorer — she got hers on 1/27 — is consistently a 9.9 to 9.925 performer. Dicello is listed in the no. 3 spot, but she’s not a consistent member of the beam team, going only in the first and last meets so far.
MISSOURI— The “Beam Queens” have taken a tumble (pun intended, unfortunately) as of late, bottoming out last week after the above-mentioned issues. I consider this to be more of a one-off thing though, as opposed to a continuing problem. Helen Hu tied her best score of the season last week, and she’s just incredible to watch on this very narrow apparatus. Sienna has been declining a bit since her 9.95 to start the season, so we’ll see what she can do. Grace Anne had her second highest score last week and is consistently in the 9.825-9.85 range. Alisa, aside from last week, consistently scores in the 9.85 range. Hannah McCrary and Sydney Schaffer are my WC entries, as Hannah has only competed the last two meets, and Sydney has only competed in the middle two meets. I’d probably give the tip to Hannah, if it were me, though last year at one point, Syd did pull off a 9.925.
Bars: Leanne Wong (10.0) vs. Helen Hu (9.925) | Trinity Thomas (9.975) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.9) | Kayla DiCello (9.925) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.9) | Sloane Blakely (9.925) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.875) | Victoria Nguyen (9.9) vs. Amari Celestine (9.85) | Payton Richards (9.825) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.85)
FLORIDA— This is where Florida SHINES, as they are currently the no. 1 bars team in the country. Leanne Wong has gotten two 10s this season, on 1/13 and in their last meet (on the road, mind you). Thomas, while missing the elusive 10, has scored 9.975 THREE times this season. DiCello is remarkably consistent, with 4/5 9.925 scores this season. Nguyen and Richards have only performed on beam twice this season.
MISSOURI— Helen leads Missouri on the bars and can be counted on for a 9.9-9.925 regularly in the event, and Jocelyn is pretty consistent as well. I honestly couldn’t tell you why she only got a 9.85 last week— her routine looked awesome to me, but she can be counted on for the high 9.8 to 9.9 range. Also keep in mind, she didn’t even regularly compete on bars last season (only in the first five meets), so that’s pretty cool. The same range goes for Sienna. Addison had a fall on the bars last week, but was pretty consistent to be counted on for a 9.8 to 9.85 earlier in the season.
Vault: Trinity Thomas (10.0) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.95) | Payton Richards (9.925) vs. Amari Celestine (9.875) | Kayla DiCello (9.9) vs. Sienna Schreiber (9.85) | Leanne Wong (9.875) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.85) | Bri Edwards (9.85) vs. Grace Anne Davis (9.825) | Wild Card: Sloane Blakely (9.8) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.75) OR Sydney Schaffer (9.725)
FLORIDA— Trinity’s 10 on this apparatus (she’s so good, you guys) came on 1/27, but she’s been more “mortal” the other times she’s competed this season, mostly scoring in the 9.9 to 9.925 range. Richards has been pretty inconsistent, honestly. Her high score came just last week, and prior to that she’s fluctuated between mid 9.7s to mid 9.8s. You can count on DiCello to get in the upper-9.8 range, and if Leanne Wong has a “weak” event, it’s this one. She’s got 2x 9.85, a 9.8, and 2x 9.875s in her mix so far this season. Edwards stays in the 9.825 zone mostly, and Blakely is a true WC, only competing twice, and once with pretty disastrous results (a 9.45 on 1/27).
MISSOURI— Missouri got its highest vault score of the season last week, and they blew their previous score out of the gym. Jocelyn, Amari, Sienna and Hannah all scored season-highs against Kentucky. SO MANY STUCK LANDINGS!!! Amari can do even better than this, by the way, as she topped out at 9.925 last season after scoring several 9.9 and 9.925s. The 6th spot for Mizzou is a true WC, as I’m not really sure who fans should expect to see.
How Missouri Can Keep it Close
Floor: Keep getting those 9.925s and up, ladies! I honestly always think that the Tigers’ FX are amazing and so full of enthusiasm, and I don’t know what they’re getting deductions on. Don’t get go excited on your floor run you go out of bounds, Joci. Keep it in the lines!
Hannah’s best score from a season ago was 9.95, as was Alisa & Jocelyn, so if they want to get there, I’m sure we’d all LOVE to see it! Amari, if you’ve got that 9.975 in you, we’re here for it.
Beam: Limit the balance checks (and falls, obviously) and channel the Illinois meet scores. Mizzou has been known for their beam squad for a bit now, but they haven’t been showing it as of late and have tumbled in the national standings to well outside the top 10.
Bars: We’ve established that I’m not a bars aficionado and can’t really pinpoint what the Tigers’ issues are that keep them from scoring super high, so um... stick the landings and seamlessly transition from skill to skill.
Vault: Just keep it up, ladies! The vault was SO GOOD for Mizzou last week! It was their second highest-scoring apparatus! We’re looking at Amari, who was an All-American on vault a season ago to get back up to that 9.925-9.95 range.
Overall: I’d love to see Mizzou get into the 197s, which they did a handful of times — 8 to be exact — last season, including the aforementioned 197.65 against the Gators! I don’t go into this meet expecting them to win, but if they can come away from it with a season-best score and some real progress on the individual events, I’ll be giddy.