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Another One Bites the Dust: #14 Mizzou takes down #8 Alabama

The Tigers weren’t their best on Friday night, but great teams win despite it, and that’s just what Missouri did

Sienna Schreiber competes on floor exercise in the final rotation of Mizzou’s win over no. 8 Alabama | March 3, 2023
Karen Steger photo

For the first time in program history, the Missouri Tigers beat the Alabama Crimson Tide. A team that, mind you, has finished a season ranked no worse than 12th since 1998. A team that, in the last 10 years, has finished 3rd, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 12th, 8th, 5th and 7th. And the Tigers did it on a night when they frankly weren’t at their absolute best. Unlike against #5 Auburn, when everything went pretty much perfectly (I’m still in awe), there were some hops, some balance checks, some almost-falls, some phantom things going wrong that I didn’t notice (I was also trying to watch the Mizzou-OK State softball game, which was going on at the same time). That’s what makes it more amazing. When Alabama faltered, and oh boy did they falter at times, Mizzou was there. Closing the gap. Bit by bit. Hundredth by hundredth. They wiped out the Tide. Convincingly. 0.325 is a significant amount in top-level gymnastics.

Let’s recap. But first, a hype video. I LOVE HYPE VIDEOS. You should all know this by now.

Rotation One— MIZ Vault | BAMA Bars

Mizzou looked like its old self on vault, and by old self, I mean, their former selves who struggled a bit on vault. Everyone was a bit... off, though they still overall scored just a bit above their season average (49.138). Freshman Addy Lawrence started out well enough with a 9.75 (her best is a 9.775), and that was the ONLY 9.7, which I demanded in my preview, but they finished the event leaving me and others feeling a bit underwhelmed and unsure of what was to come. Hannah McCrary, Sienna Schreiber, and Grace Anne Davis were close to their best scores, but I wanted 9.9s, dammit (they scored 9.8, 9.85 and 9.85, respectively). Amari Celestine (9.875) and Jocelyn Moore (9.825) were significantly off their bests— Amari had a 9.95 on the road last week, and Jocelyn’s last two vaults were a 9.975 and a perfect 10. The Tigers had made so much vault progress recently, this was a step back. Alabama, for their part, was also a touch off while giving Luisa Blanco (more on her later) a rest. When you’re hoping to come out with a win, every .05 to .175 (Hudson) off your best adds up.

After one rotation, Alabama leads Mizzou by .225, 49.375 — 49.15.

Rotation Two— MIZ Bars | BAMA Vault

Mizzou got back on track on the bars, and was only a tenth off their program high, which was set last week against Arkansas. The Tigers were led by Jocelyn’s season-high 9.925 and Kyra’s season-tying 9.875, and while the other Tigers were just a smidge off, they closed the gap on the Tide, who only managed a 49.175 on vault, well below their season high and average. If you recall in my preview, I was worried Mizzou wouldn’t be able to keep up on this one. Only Alabama’s Olsen was able to get a 9.9 though, and that’s significant for a vaulting rotation who has all of their rotational pieces capable of scoring a 9.9 or above.

After two rotations, Alabama’s lead is diminished, only leading Mizzou by only .05, 98.55 — 98.50.

Rotation Three— MIZ Beam | BAMA Floor

This is where it got weird, you guys. Alabama, realizing they were in danger of losing, quickly adjusted their lineup to add in Luisa Blanco, who I’m guessing was scheduled to take the night off originally. But the Tide desperately needed her services, and so she was called to duty. They also adjusted a couple other rotational pieces on the fly, and while their last two competitors, Hudson (9.90) and Blanco (9.95), did help, the Tide had not ONE but TWO major, major tumbling errors that resulted in 9.075 and 9.15 scores. It was shocking. I’ve never actually seen FX scores that low. So while Alabama could drop one of those, they had to count the 9.15, and that, friends, was disastrous for the Tide, and no matter how the others did — no one had a high score, mind you — scoring a 48.75 is going to effectively disintegrate any hope of winning a meet against an equally good team.

Mizzou, for their part, didn’t look the part of the Beam Queen team of the week prior and had to contend with three lower scores than we’d all like, caused by some serious balance checks. Hannah led off with a 9.65 (yikes), Grace Anne had a 9.60 (double yikes), and Sienna anchored with a 9.75 (ehhhh). Only the 9.60 could be dropped, so those other scores had to count. Not ideal. Our QUEEN Helen Hu, however, was perfection, and I’d really like the judges to point out where those deductions were. She posted a 9.95, which ties her season-high. You can watch video of her routine here.

After three rotations, Mizzou takes the lead over Alabama by 0.30, 147.60 to 147.30.

Rotation Four— MIZ Floor | BAMA Beam

With one rotation to go, our Tigers left it all on the floor... While no one got their highest score, no one was far off. Sienna got Missouri started with a terrific 9.875, which was just off her best of 9.90, and Alonna Kratzer followed with her second best score, a 9.875. Hannah was solid with a 9.90, as was Alisa Sheremeta, who had a truly gorgeous 9.925. Jocelyn was a full tenth off her high score from a week ago, but it was still in her top 3 scores of the season. And Amari, with the win seemingly already in hand, closed it down with a 9.9, just off her best 9.95 from a week ago.

In the Tide’s last rotation, they did what they could, but with Mizzou’s 49.475 FX, they would have to pull off a miracle to take this one. Their 49.45 was just above their average, and only Rybicki truly faltered with a 9.725 (it was dropped), but for a beam team that has half of their rotation getting mid to high 9.9s on the regular, scoring 9.8s just wasn’t enough. What was enough, and my God, when I say this was the most unique and beautiful beam routine I’ve ever seen, it’s not a lie. Luisa Blanco KILLED it, and earned every bit of that perfect 10.0. Hell, she deserved a 12.0. It was that good. Flawless.

But, that 10.0 didn’t matter, and only served to make the score just a little closer. Luisa was going to need help to get her team over the enormous FX-filled gulf, and they just couldn’t do it.

After four rotations, Mizzou’s lead over Alabama increased to .325, and the Tigers washed away the Tide, 197.075 to 196.750.

This was Mizzou’s third 197 of the year, and this should serve as a warning to everyone come postseason time. These Tigers are certified giant killers. They’re coming for you.

I’ll leave you with this, as I am truly evil, haha. This routine was awesome, but the music will be drilled into your skull for eternity. I’m really not complaining, and she’s one of the few with the same musical arrangement throughout. Enjoy.

UP NEXT: Mizzou closes its regular season next Friday with a quad meet against Carolina, Ball State, and SEMO. I will attempt a time-defying feat where I attend the first part of Mizzou SEC opener against Kentucky, then sprint across the parking lot to Hearnes for the meet.