Matter on Mizzou: Gymnasts tumble in elite company | Mizzou Sports News

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COLUMBIA, Missouri— Mover on the Mizzou fight. Move away from the Mizzou softball. There’s another black-and-gold team that can claim they’re the best on campus now.

By the slimmest of margins on the weekend’s final routine, the Missouri gymnastics team put themselves in position to compete for a national championship on Saturday. Shannon Welker’s Tigers, flirting with the top 10 all season, clinched one of eight NCAA championship berths over the weekend, edging out UCLA in Saturday’s NCAA Regional Finals in Raleigh. , North Carolina.

Mizzou officially clinched his ticket to the NCAA Championship semifinals in the final routine of the day — with a toe. On her first tumbling pass on the floor exercise, Amari Celestine’s right toe nudged the line out of bounds, but the judges did not deduct from her score. His 9.925 was enough to put the Tigers ahead of UCLA, 197.425 to 197.400.

“I imagined this moment for a long time for this team … and it really happened last night,” Welker told fans who greeted the team outside their facility on Sunday upon their return from North Carolina. . “It was so surreal, but I was so excited for these young girls. It was awesome.”

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It’s United’s first time in the NCAA championships since 2010 – Welker took over the program in 2014 – and only the second time in the program’s history. Mizzou will compete in the national semifinals in Fort Worth, Texas, beginning April 14. Missouri will advance to the second of two semifinals, along with Florida, Auburn and Michigan. In the first semifinal, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Utah and Alabama will face off for a spot in the final on April 16.

The Tigers had been trending toward that kind of breakthrough for more than a year, finishing each of the last two seasons ranked 14th nationally. This season, however, with a roster of mostly freshmen and sophomores, Mizzou dazzled on the mats like never before, twice setting team records for the highest scores in a single game in the league. Mizzou’s story while beating three SEC foes in Arkansas, LSU and Georgia. Mizzou’s fourth-place finish at the SEC Championships was his best yet in the conference encounter. Welker was named SEC Coach of the Year for his team’s breakthrough season.

Junior beam specialist Sienna Schrieber, the SEC Specialist of the Year, has anchored rotations all season, while freshmen Celestine and Jocelyn Moore, first-team All-Americans on vault, have revitalized the roster by Welker. Moore tied for first on floor in NCAA regionals (9.95), while Schreiber was second on balance beam (9.95.)

BASEBALL REBOUNDS

Mizzou needed a successful weekend at the home grounds to prevent their seasons from slipping away. Done and done. The No. 24 MU softball team swept South Carolina in three games at Mizzou Stadium, while the Tigers baseball team won two of the Gamecocks’ three games, winning Saturday and Sunday at Taylor Stadium.

On the baseball field, Vanderbilt smoked the Tigers in a three-game sweep to open SEC play, but over the past two weekends Mizzou has gone 3-3 against Arkansas and South Carolina and finished with a plus-3 differential on both series. , thanks to Saturday’s 10-3 blowout, sparked by two homers from Luke Mann. The star of the day was starter Austin Marozas, a transfer from Charlotte who struck out 10 career strikes in 6 2/3 innings.

“The lead ball guys,” Tigers coach Steve Bieser said, “sometimes they have a little problem settling in early because they’ve got a good bike, but man, once he started wearing down a bit and really getting that ball to the low end of the zone and using his three-high mix, it was pretty special.

Through three SEC series, Mizzou (17-8, 3-6) is the most improved offensive team in the league with a team slash line of .292/0.396/0.436 plus 40 interceptions, third in the SEC . Opponents are hitting just .234 against United’s throw, fifth-best among SEC teams.

Now comes the biggest challenge of the season: a three-game streak at No. 1 Tennessee (27-1, 9-0). Former Tigers player and assistant coach Tony Vitello has built a powerhouse in Knoxville as the Vols lead the SEC in nearly every major statistical category. How dominant are the Flights? They just swept Vandy by a collective score of 16-4 and now lead the nation in both batting average (.338) and ERA (1.86).

SOFTBALL SWEEP

As for the softball team, those World Series plans had been put on hold during a midseason slump that saw the Tigers lose seven of eight games, including the first five SEC contests. The weekend sweep in South Carolina was more of a relief. On Sunday, Kim Wert continued her productive weekend by doubling the game’s first run, followed by Kendyll Bailey’s game-winning home run in third. Laurin Krings scatter six hits over six innings for the win. On Friday, Wert threw his 48th career home run, breaking Jen Bruck’s team record set in 2008.

Wert’s 48 circuits were essentially spread over three seasons. The Hofstra transfer arrived three years ago, played the entire seasons in 2019 and 2021, but the 2020 season was cut short. She still has 17 regular season games plus the playoffs to add to her total.

The Tigers (22-13, 3-5) enter their weekend series at Mississippi State in 10th place in the SEC, but just 2½ games out of first place in the Logjam conference standings.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR GATES?

New men’s basketball coach Dennis Gates is in New Orleans for the Final Four and with the NCAA’s out-of-hours ending this week, the Tigers could officially have assistant coaches on staff once the recruiting period ends. will start on Thursday. A few names have surfaced as potential candidates, the sources said: St. John’s associate head coach TJ Cleveland and John A. Logan College head coach Kyle Smithpeters. Cleveland is the nephew of St. John’s coach Mike Anderson and has worked for his uncle through every training stoppage, including their five-year stint at Mizzou. Smithpeters hails from the Mid-Missouri area and plays at Harrisburg High. He produced 40 Division I players at John A. Logan College, annually one of the top junior college programs in the nation, and in the past three years he produced more NBA draft picks than Mizzou: guard Jay Scrubb was the Nets’ second-round pick. in 2020 and later traded to the Clippers.

On the transfer front, a few notable targets have included Missouri on their recent shortlists:

• Bradley point guard Terry Roberts has United in his top 10, along with SEC schools in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State. He was a Missouri Valley Conference first-team player this year, averaging 14.5 points and 4.1 assists.

• Northern Iowa forward Noah Carter is at Arkansas, Florida, Marquette, Missouri and Virginia Tech and plans to visit Mizzou this weekend, 247Sports reported. At 6-6, he’s the size of a wing but played inside for NIU, averaging 15.1 points per game.

• Sean East, point guard of the aforementioned John A. Logan College, recently named National Junior Player of the Year, has the Tigers in his top six, along with BYU, Clemson, Kentucky, Oregon and South Florida. He averaged 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and shot 41% from 3 points. East’s next school will be his fourth after starting his college career at UMass and then Bradley.

TIGER TALES

It was an unforgettable finish for Mizzou’s women’s basketball team, but the Tigers can now say they were one of only two teams to beat national champion South Carolina. How exactly did the Tigers pull this off on December 30? … Freshman athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois was on hand for Thursday’s gymnastics region at NC State, which Welker later noted was the first time her DA attended a postseason event. of the NCAA. “I thought that was a really cool thing,” he said when the team returned to Columbia. … Message for Mizzou Twitter: Yes, we are well aware that Monday’s Kansas-North Carolina championship game will feature multiple Missouri State starters. But just in case we haven’t seen the first 7,000 tweets, feel free to call it back a few more times. … The Athletic lists former Mizzou star Aijha Blackwell as the No. 1 women’s basketball player available on the NCAA’s transfer portal. … Former Mizzou men’s hoop assistant coach Cornell Mann landed his first head coaching job, taking over at Division II Grand Valley State in his home state of Michigan. Mann has been part of Cuonzo Martin’s United team for the past five years.


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