Missouri deals home loss to Southeast gymnasts

Saturday, February 16, 2008
Southeast Missouri State junior Sandra Blake performed on the balance beam during Friday's meet against Missouri at Houck Field House. Blake tied for second in the all-around. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Both coaches involved with Friday night's women's gymnastics meet came away believing their team hit a high mark this season.

Even if the scores didn't reflect it.

"Our performance was the best of the year. The scores didn't indicate that," Southeast Missouri State coach Tom Farden said. "That's the liabilities of a subjective sport like gymnastics."

Farden emphasized that he was not blaming the judges, simply pointing out a fact special to the sport.

University of Missouri coach Rob Drass had much the same thoughts after his Tigers beat Southeast 195.425 to 193.500 at Houck Field House.

Southeast Missouri State sophomore Jacqueline Heath pivoted on the uneven parallel bars during Friday's dual meet.

"It was probably one of our best meets of the year. We really had a good meet," Drass said. "We were a little frustrated [with the scoring]."

In a sport like gymnastics, scoring makes all the difference.

Rankings are based on average scores, not wins and losses. At the end of the season, the top 36 teams qualify for an NCAA regional.

MU, ranked 14th nationally with an average of 194.955, bettered that with its second-highest score of the season.

Southeast, ranked 27th with an average of 193.725, fell a bit short of that.

"It was a solid performance," Southeast junior Sandra Blake said. "The judging was a little stricter, but we did a good job."

Judging aside, each coach heaped praise on the other's program as the squads continue to face each other at least once each season.

"My hat's off to Southeast. Tom is doing a great job. I look for them to be in the regional championship," said Drass, whose Tigers improved to 5-1 and lead the series with Southeast 21-6, including winning the last 13 meetings. "His team is getting better. It's a good series we have going. We want to put Missouri on the map, promote gymnastics in Missouri."

Said Farden, whose team is 3-3: "Missouri looked awesome. They're an elite program for a reason."

MU junior Adrianne Perry, the nation's 24th-ranked all-arounder, captured that title with a score of 39.250, while also winning the vault (9.850) and beam (9.850).

Southeast was led by Blake, who tied for second in the all-around (38.975).

Blake also tied for second on vault (9.800) and floor (9.825), while tying for third on bars (9.700).

Southeast sophomore Bryanna Wong tied with Blake for third on bars (9.700), and Redhawks sophomore Rikara Turner tied for fourth on beam (9.750).

"It was fun to compete against them," Blake said of the Tigers. "They're a great team, and we want to get to the top 25."

Farden believes it's only a matter of time before the Redhawks get back there, after they were ranked 23rd earlier in the season.

"We looked really solid tonight. I'm proud of the way they executed," Farden said. "We need to continue that to make our run to the NCAAs."

Farden was appreciative of another big crowd as about 600 fans turned out to support Southeast gymnastics.

"It was our biggest crowd of the season. It was great," Farden said. "The support we have been receiving is awesome."

After having four of their first six meets at home, the Redhawks have only one home competition remaining, March 20 against Texas Women's University.

Southeast faces four straight road meets, starting Feb. 25 at Southern Utah.

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