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No. 9 Missouri Gymnastics defeats No. 3 LSU in battle of top 10 teams

COLUMBIA, Mo. 一 No. 9 Mizzou knocked off No. 3 LSU, 197.325-197.225, in a top-ten showdown on Friday at the Hearnes Center thanks to its floor routine.

Freshman Kennedy Griffin, whose 9.975 floor routine helped the Tigers of Missouri score the narrow win, attributes her strong performances as of late to her training and the trust her teammates have in her.

“The training that we've been doing, and the trust that my teammates have for me and I have for them and the trust within my coaches,” Griffin said. “Our cultures are just one big happy family and we all trust each other to do our jobs and go out there. Knowing that the team has got my back and they know the training that we've been putting in works.”

In the Tigers' last outing, they defeated No. 20 Georgia in Athens by a score of 197.400-197.050 to earn their first Southeastern Conference win of the season.

Heading into Friday night's matchup with LSU marked Missouri’s third straight top-25 contest.

{icture of Kennedy Griffin versus Georgia. (Photo credits: John Gronski/Mizzou Athletics)
{icture of Kennedy Griffin versus Georgia. (Photo credits: John Gronski/Mizzou Athletics) (John Gronski/Mizzou Athletics)

In a packed-out Hearnes Center with 7,000 fans cheering on Mizzou, it finally had a taste of what home-field advantage looked like.

Head coach Shannon Welker said with no defense in gymnastics, all Mizzou can do is worry about themselves.

“That's what SEC gymnastics is right there. That's why it's a home-field advantage because they got that on the road,” Welker said. “Now we got that at home, that's great stuff, that's what helps us. There's no defense, so it doesn't matter what they're doing. It's kind of like golf. There's no defense, it's just you out there.

“You've got to focus on your own team and what we can do, and we preach that over and over and over. I felt like when we went to Alabama we got a little distracted and then we refocused when we went to Georgia and it paid big dividends for us. We did the same thing today”.

After the first rotation, the Mizzou jumped out and led the LSU 49.425-48.650. Mizzou’s first rotation was highlighted by an electrifying 9.950 performance by Hannah Horton.

Missouri posted a team score of 49.400 on the uneven parallel bars in the second rotation to cling to its 98.825-98.725 lead. Despite an impressive 9.900 showing from Amaya Marshall, LSU’s Haleigh Bryant took home the win with a 9.925.

LSU would take that victory and turn it into momentum. LSU led after the third rotation courtesy of a 9.900 performance from Kiya Johnson. Amari Celestine for Mizzou posted a 9.825 on the beam in the third. LSU led 147.875-147.725 heading into the fourth rotation.

Mizzou started the fourth rotation with back-to-back 9.900 performances from Sienna Schreiber and Rayna Light.

After Griffin delivered a big-time performance for the Tigers on the floor, the teams were knotted at 197.225.

LSU’s Aleah Finnegan posted a 9.1 on the beam, but Missouri's Jocelyn Moore finished her floor routine with a 9.925 to help clinch the win. Four of the five Mizzou gymnasts on the floor finished with a 9.9 score or higher.

Moore said the crowd's energy fueled the Tigers to close out the meet strong and that being the closer is an honor to her.

“I would definitely say the energy of the crowd really impacts us as gymnasts, especially when we're on the floor just having fun. I'm so proud of Kenny. Coming in as a freshman, she's just so strong and is a leader. Going after her, I was honestly honored,” Moore said. “I was so happy that she was able to obtain that score because she deserves it, and she's been working really hard in the gym. So, just to see her go out there and perform like that was amazing.

“It's something so special and I think being the last routine for the meet has a little bit of pressure, but it's exciting. When I was going out before the judge even saluted me, hearing all the fans in the crowd screaming I was like, ‘Wow, this is legit.’ It was actually really fun and just knowing that people are here to watch us and here to support us means so much”.

Although Moore received a lot of praise for her floor routine, she was most proud of her performance on the bars, finishing with a 9.875, the highest of the season for her.

“I was very happy about my routine. I've been working so hard in the gym, focusing on the little details whether that's hitting the handstands or sticking the dismounts and tonight I did both,” Moore said. “I think it's just exciting knowing that I performed what I'm capable of doing because a lot of the time you can go out and hit a routine but you're capable of more, so tonight I was really proud of what I did.”

With tonight's victory, Mizzou moves to 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in the SEC.

Coming Up:

Mizzou will head on the road next week to face Texas Woman's University on Saturday, February 3rd.

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