You guys, it’s not often you get to see an Olympic gold medalist compete in person. Most people could go their entire lives without coming face to face (or rather, within the same facility) as an athlete of this caliber. While I had my fair share** of meetings with Olympians as a result of working World Cup swim meets in Charlotte and CoMo in the past (I had a truly hilarious conversation with Michael Phelps once), being able to watch Olympic All-Around champion Sunisa Lee compete is going to be a bucket list item. And you TOO can be a part of this if you come to the meet on Sunday! That’s right, your no. 16 Missouri Tigers are welcoming in the no. 5 Auburn Tigers. I imagine it will be a packed house, 1) because Mizzou is SO FUN TO WATCH, and 2) because of the inclusion of said gold medalist in the lineup.
Blessing your timelines with some brand new #MIZ pic.twitter.com/6TLBQSD9gv— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 19, 2023
**I’ve also been to the Olympics and the Swimming Olympic Trials as a spectator for what it’s worth, but I recognize I’m an anomaly.
When: Sunday, February 19
Where: Hearnes Center | Columbia, Mo.
Time: 5:00 p.m. CST
TV: SEC Network
History: This will be the 44th-ever meeting between Auburn and Mizzou, and Auburn currently has a 10-34 edge in the series.
Last Time On The Mats
When we last saw our Tigers, this Missouri team was getting royally screwed on the vault in Gainesville. Seriously, the judges were handing out 10s like candy to the Florida gymnasts — some deserved, some not so much — but meanwhile our girl Jocelyn Moore, who had a what sure looked like a perfect vault, deserved a 10. Instead, they gave her a 9.925 and the gymnternet was fuming.
She did it once again...— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 11, 2023
Still on that 10.0 watch... pic.twitter.com/67NjHEiJtn
Aside from the vault scores, which seemed very low overall for what we were watching and how they compared to the Gators, their 49.05 matched their second highest score of the season. The Tigers did well on bars, scoring within a tenth of their best, and while their overall score wasn’t the best, three Tigers did score their highest of the season. It’s too bad it was offset by some lower scores.
As for the other Tigers, they beat LSU at home 197.75 to 197.50 last week . They scored their highest floor and bars scores of the season but had some trouble with beam. That damned beam is certainly prone to giving even the highest level gymnasts a fit at times.
Do not miss your chance to see these routines in person this Sunday!— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 17, 2023
What To Expect At The Venue
Mizzou hit its best attendance record since 2013 in their home opener at Hearnes against no. 20 Georgia when 2,628 fans showed up. The athletic department has really been pushing breaking attendance records for this meet, as Tiger Style broke their all-time record earlier in the week, reaching around 4,600 against Iowa State. Per RoadtoNationals.com, Mizzou’s highest attendance was in 2013 when they maxed out at 6,486. Let’s see how many we’ll get this evening, Tiger fans!!!!
Come be a part of history tonight. As we rewrite our record books.— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 19, 2023
As of right now tonight's event is our second-largest crowd ever... We still have tickets left. Grab them while you can.
Our pre-meet vibes >>>>> yours pic.twitter.com/d6sBu5qcMv— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 10, 2023
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: Derrian Gobourne (9.975) vs. Amari Celestine (9.925) | Sunisa Lee (9.975) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.925) | Cassie Stevens (9.925) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.925) | Olivia Hollingsworth (9.90) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.925) | Sophia Groth (9.90) vs. Sienna Schreiber (9.90) | Aria Brusch (9.875) vs. Alonna Kratzer (9.85)
Auburn have three ranked nationally in the Top 50 in FX: Gobourne at no. 4, Suni at no. 9 and Stevens at no. 39, while Missouri as two: Amari at no. 17 and Alisa at no. 49. Amari’s been remarkably consistent on FX, with her high and average scores only separated by 0.013. While Mizzou isn’t likely to win the head-to-head battle between the top 2 —Gobourne and Lee are very, very good — the Tigers can make up some ground with the other members in the rotation. The top 5 Tigers are fully capable of scoring in the 9.9 range regularly, so staying in that range and getting consistent scores will be key in the season progresses. Hopefully, Sierra’s back is doing a bit better with a few more days of rest between contests (9 instead of the usual 7). We’ll need her energy!
We know how to have a party on the Floor. #MIZ pic.twitter.com/ddvKhbitag— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 13, 2023
Beam: Sunisa Lee (10.0) vs. Helen Hu (9.95) | Cassie Stevens (9.95) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.95) | Aria Brusch (9.90) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.925) | Gabby McLaughlin (9.90) vs. Grace Anne Davis (9.90) | Sophia Groth (9.90) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.85) | Wild Card: Olivia Hollingsworth (9.85) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.80) OR Sydney Schaffer (9.75)
This will be a true battle of beam queens, as the defending national champion Suni Lee (currently ranked no. 3 nationally) will take on the defending runner-up Sienna Schreiber (currently ranked no. 39 nationally). This is going to be a TREAT to watch. Mizzou’s Helen Hu is currently ranked no. 31 nationally, while Auburn counters with Aria Brusch at no. 45. Should Mizzou be able to channel their beam heroics from the first meet against Illinois, they are fully capable of taking this event. Afterall, their high score is higher than Auburn’s. Mizzou is coming off a pretty good beam performance in which half of the rotation had their highest scores of the season (Hannah, Alisa & Sienna).
Addy is about as consistent as they come on the beam, having scored a 9.85 three times this season already. As for the wild card spot, we’ve seen both Hannah and Sydney on occasion, and the Tigers seem content with switching out the 6-spot. Both are prone to cases of the “checkies” (balance checks, I just made that up), but I’d give the nudge to the grad student in this environment, and she was great last week.
We would agree!! #MIZ https://t.co/IJ9yBBCF4G— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 11, 2023
Bars: Sunisa Lee (10.0) vs. Helen Hu (9.925) | Derrian Gobourne (9.975) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.90) | Sophia Groth (9.925) vs. Sienna Schreiber (9.90) | Cassie Stevens (9.90) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.875) | Olivia Hollingsworth (9.85) vs. Amari Celestine (9.85) | Wild Card: Gabby McLaughlin (9.85) OR Adeline Sabados (9.80) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.85) OR Hollyn Patrick (9.775)
It’s Sunisa Lee’s world, and we can just watch in awe at true perfection. Lee is ranked no. 1 in the event, and it’s just jaw-dropping to watch. She’s scored 10s three times this season, including in her last two meets. Sienna, who last week’s broadcasters told us, is fighting a bit of back pain, took off bars last week, but I fully expect to see her return.
As for the wild cards, I’ve got a couple for each team. Hollyn tied her best score last week against Florida and has been a more consistent presence in the lineup, while Addy started the season strong, but hasn’t been seen consistently since then. I’ll give the start to Hollyn here.
Vault: Sunisa Lee (9.95) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.95) | Derrian Gobourne (9.95) vs. Amari Celestine (9.875) | Cassie Stevens (9.925) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.85) | Olivia Hollingsworth (9.875) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.85) | Sara Hubbard (9.90) vs. Grace Anne Davis (9.825) | Wild Card: Sophia Groth (9.85) vs. Sydney Schaffer (9.725) OR Addison Lawrence (9.75)
Auburn is a terrific vaulting team, no question, and currently have three Tigers tied for no. 14 nationally in Suni Lee, Cassie Stevens, and Derrian Gobourne. Mizzou’s Jocelyn Moore comes in ranked no. 19, though she should be higher than that after getting screwed by the judges last week. In previous iterations of the previews, I’ve brought up Amari Celestine before, who was a First Team-All American a season ago, and is capable of pulling off a 9.9-9.95 consistently. I think we’ve yet to see the best of her, having started the season a bit later than the others. Let’s go, Amari’! Today’s the day!
How Missouri Can Win
Floor: I strongly feel that Mizzou was also underscored on the floor last week, as they only managed one 9.9 of the bunch (Amari), so I’d love to see them get back up into the mid-49 range for scoring. They’re certainly capable. I think that the Tigers’ FX are amazing — they have excellent choreo and actually look like they’re having FUN out there, unlike some other teams I’ve watched (I’m looking at you, UK). The team’s highest score of the season was set at home against Georgia, so I have high hopes for some home team magic.
Beam: Limit the balance checks! Depending upon the judges, sometimes they’ll take huge deductions for a check. And while I have no say in this obviously, it’d be great to see one of the group’s strongest beamers go first, to kinda get things going on the right foot. It has seemed when the first Mizzou beamer falters, it impacts several to come.
Bars: Most importantly, stick the landings! Keep the skills smoothly transitioning. No dropsies! Hold your handstands. First meet aside, the Tigers have been very consistent on bars, so just keep up the good work.
Vault: No 9.7 scores!! Mizzou got handed three of them last week, and that just can’t happen if Mizzou wants to make a meet of this.
Overall: I found a new fun fact on RoadtoNationals.com, where you can see the highest team score possible if the 1-5 entrants score their best scores. Obviously, the likelihood that everyone has the meet of their lives is slim, but maybe with what could be a record crowd on hand all cheering for the black & gold, this is something to monitor. Should Mizzou really get after it this evening, they could possibly score 197.975, which is a full point difference than their high score now. What this tells me is that the Tigers can get there and are fully capable of getting in the 197 range, even if a few performances fall short. There’s no time like the present, ladies!
For what it’s worth, Auburn’s is 198.50, and they’ve scored between 197.175 and 197.75 all season. Their highest away score was against Alabama a few weeks ago, with a 197.70 (also they’re second highest of the season).
See you on the twitter, where I’ll be posting videos and super professional commentary!
I’m so excited. See you tonight. M-I-Z.
First time shooting gym, had a flipping good time pic.twitter.com/JPUO8C0IdQ— Jake Johnson (@StateFarm_Jake6) February 13, 2023