Let’s get this out of the way. #GYMNASTICSSCHOOL.
In front of a Hearnes Center record-breaking crowd of 6,041 enthusiastic fans clad in glowing crowns and black capes (it was princess & superhero night), as well as various Mizzou coaches and fellow student athletes — I see you Dennis Gates, Kobe, and Drink — your no. 16 Missouri Tigers mauled the no. 5 Auburn Tigers, 197.450 to 196.55. Just like we all thought, right?
Rotation One— MIZ Vault | AUB Bars
Mizzou got their night started on vault, known to be their “weakest” event, as they just don’t consistently get the big scores despite pretty high start values (i.e., the highest score they can get based on the difficulty level of the vault). There always seems to be a little hop, or a little step to the side on the landing, and those deductions can make a big difference when the scores are typically neck-and-neck. Going into the event, Mizzou’s best score was 49.325, set at home against Kentucky. Not Sunday though, and you could tell immediately this team had come to compete. Five of Mizzou’s six vaulters equaled or beat their season best scores. Freshman Addison Lawrence kicked it off with a 9.775 (9.95 SV), her season-high, and she was followed by grad student Hannah McCrary, who scored a 9.825 (just off her best). Senior Sienna Schreiber hit her season-high with a 9.90, and she was followed by sophomore Amari Celestine, tying her season-best of 9.875.
In the 5-spot came the gymnast the crowd was dying to see (besides Suni, of course). Would sophomore Jocelyn Moore finally be rewarded for her incredible vault work of the past few weeks? If you read my preview, you’ll know she got completely screwed last week with some suspect judging. But not this time, friends. Our girl did a PERFECT vault and was rewarded with a PERFECT score, the first 10 of her young career. As you can tell from the following video, that place EXPLODED when it was announced. What a scene. She also made no. 10 on SportsCenter on Sunday, so all around, just a great day for Joci. [side note: Rock M writer Kortay said she’s a super nice person too, so that makes me even happier for her]
Not to be forgotten, sophomore Grace Anne Davis anchored Missouri’s vault rotation, and also got her season best, a 9.85. A season-best score of 49.45, which also tied the Tigers’ highest score from a year ago.
As for Auburn’s bars rotation, everyone in the rotation was just a little “off” in their scores. Cassie Stevens wasn’t in the lineup, and she can normally be counted on for a high 9.8, and frankly, aside from waiting to get my first glimpse of Olympic All-Around Champion Sunisa Lee on her best event, I was too hyped up from Mizzou’s vaulting awesomeness to pay that much attention to the other Tigers.
Suni, for what it’s worth, put together a 9.95 as Auburn’s bars anchor, and it was just a masterclass. I’m glad the crowd showed glowing appreciation for her.
Suni Lee bars routine (thought I posted this earlier) pic.twitter.com/4Q4js8fXYP— Karen S (@karensteger) February 20, 2023
After one rotation, Mizzou leads Auburn by .250, 49.450 — 49.200.
Rotation Two— MIZ Bars | AUB Vault
On the uneven bars, Missouri tried out a different look lineup, with Amari kicking things off for the black & gold. Her 9.825 (just off her best, 9.85) set a nice standard for her teammates to follow, and while nobody hit their high scores aside from the anchor, Kyra Burns, they weren’t far off. As head coach Shannon Welker tries to piece together his finalized rotations, he elected to give Blue Springs native Kyra Burns a try. It paid off, as her 9.85 was fantastic, and dropped the 9.800 from Jocelyn Moore for an event total of 49.25, which tied their third highest of the season. By the way, Burns competed exclusively on FX last season, so this is extra impressive from the sophomore.
From my vantage point, it was hard to see Auburn’s vaults (also why my Moore video looks like it’s taken 5 miles away), so little steps or hops were unseen by me on the landings. Judging by the scores, however, I’m guessing most incorporated at least one of those, as three scores in the 9.7 range (that sounds like a Mizzou vault score, I kid) had to count for the Tigers after a huge balance check on the landing by Sabados earned a 9.600 and had to be thrown out.
After two rotations, Mizzou increases their lead over Auburn to 0.475, 98.700 — 98.225.
Rotation Three— MIZ Beam | AUB Floor
Things got a bit closer after this one. Addy Lawrence led off for Mizzou on the beam and performed what looked to me to be a flawless routine. She was just off her season best, scoring a 9.800. Hannah followed, tying her season best with (also) a 9.800. Grace Anne and Alisa followed with a 9.85 and 9.875, respectively, before junior Helen Hu was just a little wobbly in the 5-spot and still managed a 9.825.
A VERY uncharacteristic performance by Sienna in the anchor position meant that absolutely had to be the score they dropped (she got a 9.375), and she normally can be counted on for at least a high 9.8 to low 9.9. But luckily, her teammates all did well, and being the anchor on Sunday was a blessing, really. Mizzou’s overall score was a 49.15, so not “Beam Queen-esque,” but also not abysmal.
Auburn rebounded with a really nice and super fun floor rotation after Sara Hubbard stepped out of bounds to get them started. Four of the Tigers’ six entrants either tied or beat their season-high scores. Noticeably missing from the Auburn’s rotation were Derrian Gobourne and Suni Lee, their highest scorers on the event, who needed rest from the demanding two meets in a week they’re running up against. Even without them though, their teammates’ FX routines were lovely, and they were able to close Mizzou’s gap somewhat.
After three rotations, Mizzou’s lead over Auburn diminishes some, up only by 0.25 now (147.85 — 147.600
Rotation Four— MIZ Floor | AUB Beam
[Disclaimer: this was occurring right in front of my face at the media table, so I got lots of videos]
With one rotation to go, our Tigers left it all on the floor... literally. Three of Missouri’s six entrants tabulated season high scores, and another tied their best. Sienna led off for the Tigers, setting the stage with a 9.85 (her average score), and was followed by one of my favorites to watch, sophomore Alonna Kratzer, who scored a 9.90, her highest of the season. I was so so excited for her.
It was just after Alonna, and before Hannah came in strong with a 9.875 (just off her best), that I thought this:
You guys…. I think Mizzou is gonna win this. WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW— Karen S (@karensteger) February 20, 2023
And it only got better from there! Graduate OT student Alisa Sheremeta’s season best 9.95 was incredible, and “Ms. 10” Jocelyn followed it up by tying her best score with a 9.925. It apparently was announced on the broadcast, unbeknownst to those of us in the stands, that Missouri had clinched the victory with Joci’s performance.
Jocelyn up. Ready for some magic. Holy shit that was awesome pic.twitter.com/FpRuPospxW— Karen S (@karensteger) February 20, 2023
Which made this season-best 9.95 by Amari just the icing on a really delicious victory cake. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; Mizzou’s floor routines are SOOOOOOOOO FUN. And all the props to Amari’s brother in California who does all her music and choreo. 10/10.
Though it’s more of an afterthought at this point, Auburn’s final rotation featured two falls, including one shockingly by Suni Lee, who has scored 10s on this event multiple times. I have to say, even though she fell, it was still a beautiful routine. But because both Suni and Olivia Hollingsworth had the dropsies, the Tigers had to count one of their 9.4s, and it really destroyed any possible chance of a comeback.
After four rotations, Mizzou’s lead over Auburn increased dramatically, and the Tigers of CoMo beat the Tigers of The Plains by .900, with a score of 197.450 — 196.550.
This was Mizzou’s first 197 of the year (and third highest score of the past two seasons), and Auburn’s first 196 of the year. Aaaahhhhh.... sweet, sweet victory. If you were paying attention to the preview, you’ll know this is only the 11th time Missouri has knocked off Auburn in what’s now 45 meetings. You really just love to see it.
After the meet’s conclusion, the new weekly rankings were listed at RoadtoNationals.com, and now includes National Qualifying Scores, which comes into play for the first time now that teams have competed in six meets. NQS are calculated using a team’s top 6 scores from a 10-13 meet season. Three of the six scores MUST come from away or neutral sites to eliminate home bias for a team (Hello Florida, you there?).
As for the NQS scores, Mizzou debuts at no. 15 overall, no. 18 in Vault, no. 14 in Beam, no. 15 in Bars and no. 15 in Floor. We’ll check to see how they progress after the next meet so we’re comparing apples to apples.
If we continue to go by average scores, which is what we’ve looked at previously, Mizzou moves up to no. 14 overall (up 2), no. 18 in Vault (up 2), no. 16 in Beam (same), no. 17 in Bars (up 1) and no. 12 in Floor (up 1).
Up Next: Mizzou takes on No. 17 Arkansas in Fayetteville on Friday. They rank no. 10 in Vault, no. 17 in Beam, no. 12 in Bars, and no. 10 in Floor. Seems like it should be a pretty even fight against the Fightin’ Jordyn Wiebers.