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Small errors, large scoring deductions leads #4 Alabama to decisive victory over #3 Missouri

The Tigers faltered for sure, but the judges didn’t do them any favors either in this one.

Hannah Horton is congratulated by her teammates after a 9.90 vault against Alabama on January 12, 2024.
Mizzou Athletics

While we await how much Friday night’s score — 196.475, Mizzou’s lowest since the first meet last year — will impact the rankings for next week, it’s safe to say the Tigers will be in the top 5 no longer, and if they stay in the top 10... well, we’ll see. Alas, it’s early in the season and plenty of time for a rebound. Make no mistake, there was also plenty to smile about in Friday’s meet, loss be damned.

Let’s recap.

Rotation One— MIZ Bars | BAMA Vault

I worried a bit starting off with the uneven bars (road teams in duals are always assigned UB first) as I mentioned in my preview this was Mizzou’s weakest event last week— and the subsequent, sometimes suspect, scoring did the Tigers no favors. Listening to one of the announcers, former Olympian Sam Peszak, you just wouldn’t have thought the scores would be what they were. But a little step here, a slightly crooked handstand, or a little “college stick” there (not a true “stuck” landing, there’s a bit of wiggling while not taking a step), and they received what seemed like pretty sizable deductions. Two Tigers, Kyra Burns (9.80) and Sienna Schreiber (9.85), tied last week’s season-opening scores in the no. 3 and no. 5 spots in the rotation, and LIU grad transfer Mara Titarsolej anchored with her best score of the season, a 9.85. But it was some head-scratching scores — a 9.65(!) for Hollyn Patrick (she had a 9.875 last week) and a 9.725 for both Jocelyn Moore and Amaya Marshall that really put a damper on the excitement and resulted in the end of a pretty intriguing scoring streak:

Well, damn. Guess they’ll have to start a new one. I remember a similar sort of “record” falling in beam last year, so it’s just something that happens. Streaks can’t last forever.

Alabama started on vault, and actually didn’t have a great first rotation themselves, earning only a 49.125 after scoring a 49.275 last week. With the exception of anchor Gabby Gladieux, who tied her opening 9.775 (but scored a 9.95 last year), and freshman Chloe LaCoursiere, who earned a 9.825 despite a rather large step out, the rest of the Tide tumblers performed just below their opening scores by anywhere from 2/100ths to 1/10th.

After one rotation, it was shaping up to be a tight one, with Alabama leading Missouri by 0.175, 49.125—48.95.

Rotation Two— MIZ Vault | BAMA Bars

Mizzou came out strong in the second rotation, proving once again that vault is their most improved apparatus. While there’s still room for improvement— gotta stick those landings!! — a 49.375 is a good score (and better than last week’s 49.200)! Graduate engineering student Sienna Schreiber led things off with a stick, tying her season-high score with a 9.85. Rayna Light followed her up with a strong 9.825, which tied last week’s score. Peszek made a point about the freshman’s amplitude, referencing her power and how far she ended up away from the horse. Junior Grace Anne Davis was nearly perfect except for a small step back, earning her a 9.800, before Amari showcased one of Mizzou’s 10.0 start value vaults, a Yurchenko 1 12, performed with as Peszek described, “open hips and perfect timing.” If not for the small hop on the landing, Amari surely would have amassed better than her 9.875, which she also earned last week. Freshman Hannah Horton performed the same vault next, though her small step only resulted in a 1/10th deduction and a great 9.90 score, the best of her very young collegiate career. With some great scores to see before her, it was up to Miss Ten herself, Jocelyn Moore, who anchored a strong vault rotation with a 9.925, which was good enough to take the event title. I should mention, Mizzou took the team vault title as well.

Bama, as mentioned in the preview, is a very strong bars team, and Friday further showcased that. Most of them were able to pull off that much-needed stuck landing, and apparently, that meant you deserved markedly better scores (I kid). The Tide’s 49.550 beat their previous week’s score of 49.525 (which put them 4th in the country) rather easily. The aforementioned freshman, Chloe LaCoursiere, had another great rotation, earning a new best of 9.925, which came in just behind Colombian National Team member and soon-to-be 2024 Paris Olympian, Luisa Blanco’s 9.95 and Makarri Doggette’s 9.90.

After two rotations, Alabama (sadly) added to their lead, taking over Mizzou by 0.350, 98.675—98.325.

Rotation Three— MIZ Floor | BAMA Beam

AAAAH. We’ve reached my favorite event, the floor exercise, an event Mizzou Gym twitter has called the FAB FLOOR... I like it. Mizzou only missed beating last week’s score by a 1/10th, and I’d chalk that up to an uncharacteristic tumbling pass mistake by the normally pristine FXer, Amari Celestine, which earned her only a 9.700, thus dropping her score. As for the others, fans were treated to a new floor queen that only those in attendance at last week’s meet were able to see, freshman Kennedy Griffin. While she did earn a 9.90 in her exhibition slot a week ago, she was super solid in her first scoring event, earning a 9.825 on a really fun routine choreographed to Destiny’s Child music in the 2-slot [links to her routine]. Sienna led off with a solid 9.85 [links to her routine], tying her season-high, and Alonna Kratzer’s always fun Latin-themed routine notched her a new season-high, 9.875 (her best ever is 9.90, so she’s getting close). The indomitable H-squared (Hannah Horton) once again pulled out a stellar 9.90, before Joci was ROBBED in the anchor spot. R-O-B-B-E-D, I tell you. That routine was flawless.

There was nary a mistake in sight. And what did that earn her, dear Tiger GymFans? A 9.90. WHAT?! Y’all, I was screaming at the TV. I mean, look at her teammates. They knew it was a 10. It was so so so so so so so good.

While the Tigers were showing their ferocity on FX, Bama took to the beam, hoping to improve upon their score from last week, which they did (by 0.025). But despite that improved score, their beam routines really weren’t all that impressive, and not a single Ala-beamer (see what I did there?) tied or improved upon their score from last week. Luisa Blanco, whose praises I have been singing since first seeing her unreal beam routines last year, had a 9.925 in the anchor spot, and Ella Burgess’ 9.875 was quite good, but the rest of the scores were 9.800 and under, featuring two 9.700, one of which had to be counted. Suspect to me on this one was the final score for Rachel Rybicki, who had, as I wrote down in my notes, “major wobbles throughout,” but somehow still ended up with a 9.800. Hmmmmm... very curious indeed. I despise when the Tigers, or really any away team, are subjected to “home cookin.”

After three rotations, Alabama’s lead gets considerably smaller, only leading by 1/10th going into the final rotation, 147.775—147.675, setting up for what one would hope would be a fantastic finish.

Rotation Four— MIZ Beam | BAMA Floor

Mizzou’s last rotation was set up to be a good one. Yes, as the announcers reminded us, the Tigers no longer have beam queens Helen Hu and Alisa Sheremeta — and I’d like to add, no Addison Lawrence at the moment as she continues to work her way back from offseason hip surgery — but they do have a strong beam lineup that features another queen, Sienna Schreiber, strong as an ox Grace Anne Davis, and several competitors who have in the very recent past earned themselves 9.95 scores (Amaya in 2022 and Sydney in 2023 against this very competitor). It’s not like the Tigers are hurting for competitors; they have some very talented ladies waiting their turn in the wings. All this goes to say, there is potential here. Did they show it? Ehhhhh.

Let’s just say, it didn’t work out as we had hoped. Maya’s gainer full dismount with a stick (!) was amazing, but her slight wobble on her full turn was not, and she got a 9.70 (note to self: seems low). Mara, really needing a good routine after the 9.7 before her, struggled mightily on her wolf turn and full turn, but managed to stay on the beam. She earned a 9.550, which thankfully would be dropped. Sydney Schaffer was next, and she had a solid 9.80 with an added upgrade to earn an extra 1/10th. Amari, performing a collegiate beam routine for just the second time, I thought looked great. Maybe a few very slight wobbles here and there, but it looked very minor. She got a 9.75 (note to self- seems real low). Unfortunately, GAD struggled when her turn in the rotation came about, and really, she just seemed to have a hard time finding her footing— lots of balance checks. The 9.60 was probably deserved there; I’ll give the judges that one. With the meet already out of hand due to having to count a 9.6, 9.7 and a 9.75, it was up to Sienna to make the final score a bit closer. And boy, did she. A 9.95 for Queen Sienna, and an individual event title to go with it. WOOOHOOOO!

In the Tide’s last rotation, they really brought it, outscoring last week’s 49.25 by a solid 2/10ths with 23 of their floor team notching season-bests. Ella Burgess, Cam Machado, and Lilly Hudson each earned 9.875, and Louisa’s 9.925 in the 5-spot was awesome (though decidedly less awesome as Joci’s in my mind, but somehow got a higher score). Alas, the Tigers did not get just their second win over the Tide.

After four rotations, Alabama’s lead expanded A LOT, and the final score was not particularly close, 197.225—196.475.

MVP

  • Hannah Horton, only a freshman (!), took second place on vault and tied for second on floor. I continue to be super impressed by her, and per the broadcasters and their talks with Mizzou head coach Shannon Welker, she doesn’t even realize how good she’s going to be. SHE’S SO GOOD, YOU GUYS.
  • Jocelyn Moore, who won the vault and also tied for second in floor (though she deserved the win). WTG, Joci!

Final Thoughts

It’s early. While the scoring in this one made me want to, at times, launch something clean through my tv, these mistakes are things that can easily be fixed. They had no falls, and no “misses” (having to count a score lower than 9.500), and really, the biggest mistake was the tumbling error in Amari’s floor routine, and she’s so incredibly strong she saved that shit convincingly without falling and didn’t even get that much of a deduction.

And while I couldn’t tell you what caused the bars scores to be what they were, I can tell you the team has got to get those wobbles under control on beam because they’re about to hit the road again and have to close the show with beam for a second straight week. And they certainly can’t get two apparatus scores under 49 again.

All in all, though, I truthfully have the same amount of confidence in this team that I had going into the meet. They’re going to surprise some people, be it the announcers, who really seemed to have it in their heads ahead of time Bama was winning this one and it was reflected in their over-excitement for the home team, or the media and gym outlets (there’s a lot of them), who just aren’t talking about Mizzou enough after last week. They know what they can do. They have STP.


UP NEXT: Mizzou continues its SEC road trip with a visit to Athens to take on no. 15 Georgia, who have two scores (196.200 and 196.35) to their name lower than Mizzou’s.YAY!