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. A battle of two Top-15 programs, each who excel on the balance beam. It’s a Battle of the Beamers™, if you will. Mizzou, in the latest Road to Nationals rankings released on Sunday, holds steady at no. 14, which is 7th best in the SEC and no. 3 in the south-central region behind OU & Arkansas. A 197 team score still remains elusive for our Tigers in the early season, but they’re creeping steadily closer. Kentucky, meanwhile, comes in at no. 10, which is 4th best in the SEC and no. 2 in the central region behind Auburn. They also finished last season at no. 10, for what it’s worth. Let’s get to the preview, shall we?
When: Friday, February 3
Where: Hearnes Center | Columbia, Mo.
Time: 5:00 p.m. CST
TV: SEC Network
History: In the all-time series against Kentucky, the Tigers have the slight advantage, 17-15. Last season, they split the series. Per MUTigers, Kentucky took the regular season match-up, while Mizzou took the postseason match-up.
Last Time On The Mats
When we last saw our Tigers, they took down both no. 55 Lindenwood and no. 56 Texas Woman’s University (D-II) on Sunday in St. Charles decidedly (by 2.45 over TWU and 5.275 over LU, respectively). The Tigers just missed their season-high in vault and bars by .05, scoring a 49.00 and 49.275, respectively, and rebounded from that so-unlike-MU beam performance at LSU. Overall, it was a pretty good day for Missouri at the gym and they were able to get some exhibition work in on vault, beam, and bars. Maybe we’ll see some new Tigers in the rotation at some point (I can’t find scores for them).
Better keep an eye on us... We are just heating up. #MIZ pic.twitter.com/wSSGBNSbdG— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) February 2, 2023
As for another member of the big cat family, Kentucky scored a season-high 197.825 against Alabama on Friday and far out-performed any of their three previous meets on each apparatus this season. I mean, look at this graph.
Per UKathletics.com, the Wildcats’ previous all-time best of 197.750 was set last season at the second round of the Auburn Regional. UK’s highest meet score at home, 197.650, was set in the last home meet of 2022 where the Cats celebrated senior night with a win over Michigan State.
Check out some top highlights from a top night in Memorial Coliseum!! ✨ #WeAreUK | #Team49 pic.twitter.com/1tESql4yqm— Kentucky Gymnastics (@UKGymnastics) January 28, 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. It is an hour earlier than that meet, so I’m interested to see if that impacts the numbers at all. I, for instance, am leaving work on campus early that day to make sure I get good seats. As for how the crowd noise will impact the Wildcats, I don’t anticipate it to have a ton of impact as they’re used to performing amidst SEC crowds larger than this.
Let’s pack Hearnes full of— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) January 31, 2023
️ https://t.co/N0HzieLBMQ pic.twitter.com/o1ie6zXwME
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: Hailey Davis (9.95) vs. Amari Celestine (9.925) | Raena Worley (9.95) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.925) | Bella Magnelli (9.9) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.925) | Arianna Patterson (9.9) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.925) | Jillian Procasky (9.825) vs. Sienna Schreiber (9.9) | Wild Card: Ashlyn Laclair (9.825) OR Makenzie Wilson (9.875) vs. Alonna Kratzer (9.85)
KENTUCKY— Overall, the Cats’ team-high is 0.13 better than Mizzou, but their average is ONLY 0.006 (yeah, that’s in the thousandths) difference, so this is going to be a close one. Two UK gymnasts find themselves ranked nationally in the floor exercise— Worley at no. 9 and Davis at no. 34, and the top three projected “starters” are all pretty consistent as well, with Worley, in particular, averaging a 9.925. Wilson, despite a 9.875 high score, is in the Wild Card slot since she’s only appeared on FX once this season, the first meet of the year. Laclair, on the other hand, has competed more often, but definitely had some issues one of her three appearances on the apparatus this season, and has a 9.125 weighing down her average dramatically.
MISSOURI— Amari, the Tigers’ 2nd Team All-American a year ago, currently finds herself ranked no. 17 nationally in Floor, and her average (9.912) very closely mirrors her high score. We simply love to see it. Amari and Jocelyn Moore got their highest scores of the season in the tri-meet just last weekend, hence the re-shuffling of the matchup chart. Additionally, 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, and no one averages more than 0.06 worse than their highest score.
Hey Gymternet... Think it's time to put this routine on a . watch pic.twitter.com/mQcwBdA5r3— Mizzou Gymnastics (@MizzouGym) January 30, 2023
Beam: Bella Magnelli (9.975) vs. Helen Hu (9.95) | Arianna Patterson (9.95) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.95) | Raena Worley (9.95) vs. Grace Anne Davis (9.9) | Jillian Procasky (9.9) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.875) | Bailey Bunn (9.85) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.85) | Shealyn Luksik (9.8) vs. Sydney Schaffer (9.75)
This. Beam. Routine.— Kentucky Gymnastics (@UKGymnastics) January 28, 2023
Beam Queen Bella sets a new career high with a near-perfect ✨ 9.975 ✨ #WeAreUK | #Team49 pic.twitter.com/1NFbC8WB0Z
KENTUCKY— Wooooooooo-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. This is going to be a MATCH.UP. Only 0.031 separates Mizzou & Kentucky in the average score department. That’s LESS than what a balance check is worth point deductions-wise. Two Wildcat beamers find themselves ranked nationally— Worley at no. 10 and Magnelli at no. 13, and as mentioned earlier, this is the Cats’ best event. Four of the six UK beamers are very consistent from meet to meet, and their averages only differ from their highs by 0.04-0.07. One to keep an eye on will be the no. 2 seed, Patterson, who put up HUGE numbers against Alabama a week ago, but her average is only 9.694. Procasky’s score also has a decent amount of variance to it.
MISSOURI— When comparing total high scores, Mizzou’s record-breaking beam score set against Illinois — the 49.525 — is actually better than UK’s by 0.075. Again, that’s less than a balance check. Two Tigers find themselves ranked nationally on this apparatus: Helen is ranked no. 13 while Sienna is ranked no. 23.
Alisa hit her highest beam score in the tri-meet, and remains extremely consistent, as does the majority of Mizzou’s prospective beam rotation, generally falling between 0.02—0.05. Grace Anne is the odd-woman-out, with a truly uncharacteristic beam performance against LSU.
Bars: Shealyn Luksik (9.95) vs. Helen Hu (9.925) | Kaitlin Deguzman (9.925) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.9) | Raena Worley (9.925) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.9) | Hailey Davis (9.875) vs. Alisa Sheremeta (9.875) | Bailey Bunn (9.85) vs. Amari Celestine (9.85) | Annie Reigert (9.825) vs. Addison Lawrence (9.85)
KENTUCKY— This could be an interesting matchup when looking at how they did head-to-head at the meet’s conclusion. For one thing, Kentucky averages more than a tenth better than Mizzou in both the average (0.113) and high scores categories (0.175), but on the other hand, the Cats aren’t super consistent on the bars. Deguzman is currently ranked no. 27 nationally in bars, and she is one of only two UK gymnasts to have averages within 0.05 of their high scores (the other is Davis). Luksik, while she has the highest score on the team in bars, has an 8.31 (!) from the first meet of the year weighing down her average. She typically scores in the 9.8-9.9 range, so she’s one to keep an eye on for sure. Worley and Reigert’s scores have also fluctuated a decent amount (0.18 difference), so it’ll be interesting to see which version of them we see in a road environment.
MISSOURI— Four of Mizzou’s 6 projected bars workers are extremely consistent, with their averages only 0.02-0.06 off their high scores, but Helen & Sienna have both shown, despite their aptitude, that they are prone to bars issues. Helen missed a release move against LSU, and Sienna missed in Champaign. In Sienna’s case, she’s rebounded quite nicely since the dropsies, and hit her season-high score just a week ago. Jocelyn is currently ranked no. 37 nationally in bars.
Vault: Bella Magnelli (9.925) vs. Jocelyn Moore (9.9) | Arianna Patterson (9.9) vs. Amari Celestine (9.85) | Jillian Procasky (9.875) vs. Siena Schreiber (9.825) | Makenzie Wilson (9.85) vs. Grace Ann Davis (9.825) | Raena Worley (9.85) vs. Hannah McCrary (9.775) | Wild Card: Bridget Bourque (9.825) OR Ashlyn Laclair (9.825) vs. Mackenzie Patricelli (9.825) OR Addison Lawrence (9.75)
KENTUCKY— This is where Kentucky has the potential to do a bit of damage, so here’s hoping we see a lots of pikes and hops on the landings! The Cats currently have a 0.206 edge on average high scores, and a 0.32 edge on the average score. Patterson is currently ranked no. 28 nationally in vault. Magnelli, the team’s best highest scoring vaulter, has a full tenth of a point differential between her high and the 9.825 average, but the others are pretty consistent, and are able to score in the mid to upper 9.8/low 9.9 range. While Borque has a higher high score, I’m leaving her as a WC because she’s only competed once early in the season. We’re more likely to see Laclair here, which is good for the Tigers, as she’s yet to hit a 9.8.
MISSOURI— Mizzou, while pretty consistent on the vault, they also are, for the most part, pretty consistently not the best on this apparatus. Not one of the prospective vaulters have more than a 0.06 difference between their high and average scores, but they also just don’t seem to get very high scores on the vault, despite their high start values. Jocelyn is currently ranked no. 39 nationally in vault and holds the undisputed no. 1 spot while the Tigers patiently wait for Amari Celestine, a First Team All-American in this event a year ago, to get that sweet, sweet 9.95 again. Amari did score her highest of the season (she’s only been in two meets, remember) last time out, but she’s just not THERE just yet. Mackenzie, despite a high score that would place her in the 3-4 slot, only competed in this event the first meet of the season, so she’s in my WC spot with Addison.
How Missouri Can Win
Floor: Keep getting those 9.9s, ladies! I honestly always think that the Tigers’ FX are amazing, and I don’t know what they’re getting deductions on. The high score of the season was set at home against Georgia, so I have high hopes.
Beam: Limit the balance checks and channel the Illinois meet scores. Mizzou has been a “Beam School” for a bit now, much more so than Kentucky, per Road to Nationals.
Bars: Most importantly, stick the landings! Keep the skills smoothly transitioning. No dropsies! First meet aside, the Tigers have been very consistent on bars, so just keep it up.
Vault: No 9.7 scores!! I’d love to see Hannah get back to the 9.8’s she consistently got last year. If Jocelyn, who was awarded MANY a 9.95 last season, can get even an extra 0.025, it’d be huge. If Amari, who was an All-American on vault a season ago, can get back up in that 9.925-9.95 range.
Overall: Kentucky is coming off a program-record score and far out-performed their previous results. I’m not sure if it’s reasonable to expect them to do that once again; that score was like… REALLY high. Their other scores this season have been: 196.5750 (Arizona, Greenville, Ohio State, Simpson- away), 197.25 (LSU- home), 196.575 (UGA- away), and the aforementioned off-the-charts score home against no. 10 Alabama. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the high-196 to low-197 range. Let’s hope this is the meet Mizzou gets over the 196 hump. They’ve had scores of 196.4250 (ILL- away), 196.975 (UGA- home), 196.525 (LSU- away), and 196.80 (LU, TWU- away).
See you on the twitter, where I’ll be posting videos and super professional commentary
I’m so excited. M-I-Z.
.@jocimoore from @MizzouGym calls her decision to attend Mizzou 'one of the best she has ever made!'#NGWSD2023 x #MIZ pic.twitter.com/sKpnQPIOa0— Mizzou Athletics (@MizzouAthletics) February 1, 2023