CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — On Missouri’s No. 16 gymnastics team’s trek to Illinois, the team’s bus was forced to pull over and investigate a potential problem. It turned out to be a false alarm, and coach Rob Drass described the hold-up as just a minor issue.
MU is having plenty of minor issues during meets these days, but they’re having a major effect on the Tigers’ pursuit of a perfect meet.
Missouri (8-3) left Champaign on Saturday with a 195.400-195.325 victory over No. 27 Illinois. At the same time, the Tigers dropped below rival Nebraska in the Big 12 and South Central region standings.
“As a team, we need to let go of the little things that go wrong,” Drass said. “I think we hold onto them too long. When we learn to let go of those things, I think this team’s going to be the best we’ve ever had.”
The Tigers rank fourth in the south central region and need to finish in the top six to qualify for regionals on April 12. Each of the top six teams in the region has recorded a meet score of 196.000 or higher this season, except for Missouri.
Though MU failed to put together a perfect meet, junior Adrianne Perry won her fourth consecutive all-around title. Perry, who won all events but the floor exercise, tied Illinois junior Allison Buckley for first in the all-around with a 39.375.
“She’s just unbelievable,” junior Alicia Hatcher said of Perry. “She hits her routines all the time. She’s one of our strongest gymnasts ever.”
Perry and sophomore Sarah Shire have been Missouri’s top gymnasts all year, but Shire recorded a season-low 38.475. Drass said Shire simply had an off day.
The Illini (2-10) recorded season-highs on the vault, uneven bars and floor, allowing Illinois to surpass its previous meet-high by 0.350. The Tigers recorded a 48.700 on the floor, their lowest score in the floor exercise since the first meet of the season. Missouri scored above its season averages in the other three events, including a season-high 49.050 on the vault.
Sophomore Danielle Guider posted season-highs in each of her three events, leading MU on the floor alongside Hatcher.
Though Shire said a win is a win, she wasn’t satisfied with MU’s performance.
“I want to see us compete like we do at home and in the gym at our practice facility,” she said. “I think a lot of times we go to new surroundings, and we don’t adjust as quickly as we should. I want to see that adjustment made.”
Shire admitted she was a little tired during the meet. Hatcher agreed, and she also said the Tigers weren’t as focused as they should’ve been. Drass noticed his team’s shortage of energy.
“I think we were a little flat today, and I don’t know if it was mostly fatigue or if it was our long travel day (Friday),” Drass said.
Perry called the small things that continue to haunt Missouri “silly mistakes.” The mistakes include wobbles on balance beam, landings on floor and handstands on uneven bars, Perry said.
Why MU can’t hit all 24 routines during a meet remains a mystery.
“It’s frustrating for everyone,” Perry said. “We know we’re a good team, and we’re showing it in practice. But for some reason, it’s not translating over into our meets.”