TEMPE, Ariz. - The No. 19 Missouri gymnastics team opened the 2019 season with a trio of victories as the Tigers placed first in a quad meet at Arizona State on Friday night in Tempe, Ariz. Missouri earned a 195.450 to finish first, while No. 20 Arizona State went 195.000 for second, No. 23 Minnesota posted a 194.150 for third and UIC placed fourth with 193.925 points.
Two Tigers, senior Britney Ward (Ozark, Mo.) and junior Aspen Tucker (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) each notched event wins in the meet. Ward took top honors on beam with a 9.95 and Tucker tied for first on floor with a 9.9.
Opening the meet on beam, the Tigers responded to the tough apparatus with a 49.075, the team's highest event total of the night. Ward closed the strong rotation with a 9.95, the sixth time in her career she scored a least a 9.95 or higher. Sophomore Gabrielle Gottula (Spring, Texas) tied her career-best with a 9.825, a score senior Brooke Kelly (Birmingham, Ala.) also recorded. Additionally, junior Mary Nicholson (North Richland Hills, Texas) made her Tiger beam debut with a 9.750 and senior Allison Bower (Mesa, Ariz.) added a 9.725.
Mizzou also went over 49 on floor with the second rotation after a team tally of 49.050. Tucker led the way with a 9.9, which tied her career-high. Redshirt junior Morgan Porter (Overland, Mo.) went 9.825 and senior Madeleine Huber (St. Louis, Mo.) also hit the 9.8 mark with a 9.8. A 9.775 from Bower and a 9.75 from freshman Hannah McCrary (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) helped the Tigers go 49.050 on the event.
A 48.950 on vault put Missouri in a good spot heading into the last rotation. Tucker earned a 9.850 to post a team-best score and Huber went 9.825 in the leadoff spot. Additionally, McCrary was strong in the anchor position with a 9.8, Porter scored a 9.775 and sophomore Paige Kovnesky (Archbold, Ohio), in her Tiger debut, went 9.7.
Following falls in the first two spots on bars, the rest of the lineup responded to help Mizzou go 48.375 in the final rotation. A team-best 9.875 from Huber closed the event on a high note, as did a 9.825 from redshirt senior Becca Schugel (Eagan, Minn.) in her first meet back after missing most of the 2018 season with an injury. Porter also went 9.825 and sophomore Chelsey Christensen (Rapid City, S.D.) earned a 9.725 in her first career routine for the Tigers.
Mizzou Head Coach Shannon Welker
"I was really pleased. We hit 22 of our 24 routines today, unfortunately the two we missed were on the same event. I liked how we opened the meet. That's something we were trying to do a better job of, setting the tone for the day, and we did an awesome job of that. We followed up with a good floor rotation. Even the bar routines we hit were pretty good. Today was a good start for us."
The Tigers travel to Gainesville, Fla., to face No. 3 Florida on Friday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. CT. The meet will be televised live on the SEC Network.