LIVE BLOG: No. 10 Kentucky at No. 14 Missouri

I am really excited about this one! Kentucky and Missouri aren’t the flashiest teams in the SEC, but they are certainly the steadiest: Neither team has dipped below the mid-196 mark so far this season, and have plenty of room (and depth) for improvement. Both teams are pushing for a coveted spot in the evening session at SEC championships, although—as the Tigers proved during their historic 2022 run—that’s not a requirement for postseason success.  

Perennial bubble team Kentucky has come oh so close to making nationals several seasons in a row now, but all signs point to this year being different. The Wildcats are coming off of their best score in program history and are an impressive 3-0 in conference. 

Meanwhile, the Tigers are doing what they do best—grinding. They don’t have a lineup’s worth of 10.0 SV vaults like Kentucky, but they can more than make up the difference in the final two rotations (especially with a home crowd cheering them on). Missouri has yet to crack 197 so far this season, but that feels more like a question of “when” than “if,” particularly with star sophomore Amari Celestine back in action. 

Former Florida great Kennedy Baker is making her commentary debut!

Rotation One: Missouri vault, Kentucky bars 

Schaffer (Mizz): First time we’re seeing her in the lineup this season! Strong Y full to open. Not a ton of height, but fairly straight body until right at the end and a minor hop back. 9.725

Davis (UK): Blind change to a tidy straddled Jaeger. Good tension on her bail. Handstand positions good throughout, though she didn’t hold them quite as long as I’d like. Straight DLO with chest down and a large step forward. 9.800

McCrary (Mizz): Incredibly floaty Y full, touch of pike throughout but a perfectly stuck landing. One of the best she’s done. 9.850

Bunn (UK): Blind change to straddled Jaeger, no problems. A little looser in the bail than Davis. DLO shape a bit indistinct in the air, but an excellent stuck landing. 9.875

Schreiber (Mizz): Little bend in the arms on the block, but a ton of distance on her Y full. Minimal scoot back. 9.850

Riegert (UK): Blind change to a HUGE straddled Jaeger. Bent elbows on her toe hand, but a gorgeous, tight bail. DLO a little funky in the air, and a hop on the landing. 9.850 is high for me.

Davis (Mizz): Tons of distance on her Y 1.5. Really focused on cleaning up her leg form and so landed deep and slightly underrotated with a stablizing step back. Still, overall a solid vault. 9.800

DeGuzman (UK): Blind change to another high straddled Jaeger. Good bail. Final handstand is a touch short. DLO good in the air, hangs on a little late and has to take a step back.

Moore (Mizz): Good lord… PHENOMENAL Y 1.5 stuck cold. Slight imbalance on the landing, but that was outstanding. A well deserved 9.950

Luksik (UK): Big Ray, opened a little early. Bent arms on the toe hand again. Tight form on the bail. DLO landed right up on her toes, very much a college stuck. 9.900

Celestine (Mizz): Wow, another exceptional Y 1.5 for the Tigers! Big height and distance, just a small hop forward. Bonus points for her outstanding hairstyle. 9.875 seems a touch low, but admittedly the camera angle wasn’t the best.

Worley (UK): Gorgeous first handstand. A little knee bend going into her Tkatchev. Arm angle a little close on the Pak. Great position on her final handstand and a HUGE FTDT with a tiny lateral hop. Love the aggressive handstands throughout.

AFTER ONE ROTATION: Missouri 49.325, Kentucky 49.325

I told you this was going to be tight! That was a stellar vault rotation for Missouri; I don’t think they could’ve asked for much more from the lineup. Moore and Celestine are about as good of a one-two punch as you can ask for.

Similarly, Kentucky delivered on bars. There were tenths here and there, but no major breaks from start to finish. Whoever’s coaching those straddled Jaegers deserves a raise.

Rotation Two: Kentucky vault, Missouri bars

LaClair (UK): Lovely Y full. Good distance, just a touch of pike down forcing a small hop back. 9.825

Schreiber (Mizz): Excellent form on her Maloney. Tight bail. Small leg sep on her DLO and a tiny hop forward. Very clean throughout. 9.850

Procasky (UK): Tight legs on her Y full, not a ton of height or distance, but spotted the landing and stuck it.

Lawrence (Mizz): Another super clean Maloney. Gorgeous form on her Pak, but overcooks her handstand half pirouette and comes off. Blind change to a tidy, non-cowboyed front double full, stuck. 9.300.

Wilson (UK): Fhs pike half with pretty good height and distance, moderate hop back. 9.825

Celestine (Mizz): Toe hands, good. Small leg sep on her Maloney and pretty gnarly form on her Pak (though not sure what’s visible to the judges). Gets stalled on her half pirouette, but powers through. Fabulous Celestine dismount, stuck. 9.775

Patterson (UK): Fhs pike half. Not as much height as we’re used to from her. Low chest and has to take a moderate hop back. 9.800

Sheremeta (Mizz): Beautiful first handstand. BIG straddled Jaeger, a little bent arms on the regrasp. No problems on the bail. Lovely flyaway Rudi, stuck. 9.825

Magnelli (UK): Another fhs pike half. Blocks way forward on the table, so again not the most height or distance. Lovely form in the air, and a small bounce back.

Moore (Mizz): Bit of elbow bend on her toe hand. Massive Tkatchev, not a ton of hip rotation though. Bail a little off-kilter. Fantastic FTDT, stuck. 9.850

Worley (UK): WOW! Excellent Y 1.5, great in the air and stuck cold. You can see a bit of softness in the knees on replay, but that was a great one. 9.950

Hu (Mizz): Beautiful Church. A bit close on her Pak but worked through. Clean handstands throughout. Lovely full pirouette to double tuck with a step back. 9.900

AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: Kentucky 98.625, Missouri 98.525

A solid rotation for the Wildcats, though a bit of a missed opportunity: Vault is where they really had the potential to put some distance between themselves and the Tigers, and they gave away several tenths. It’s going to be a lot harder to outpace the Tigers on the last two events.

Despite an early-lineup fall, Missouri made it through bars about as well as Missouri can make it through bars. There were some rough spots along the way, but the dismounts were excellent from start to finish.

Rotation Three: Missouri beam, Kentucky floor

Lawrence (Mizz): Love her opening low beam work on her shoulder. Split leap to split jump, lovely. Full turn, good. Side aerial to a bhs and slides off, ouch. Great flexibility on her front scale. Front aerial, nice. RO back 1.5, nice rise and stuck. Bummer about the fall, because that was a great routine otherwise. 9.150

Procasky (UK): Ring full, a hair shy. Front lay to front full, didn’t get as much rise as I’d like to see and lands a little crunched. Switch ring to switch full, good positions on both. Double tuck with a moderate bounce back out of it. 9.800

McCrary (Mizz): Front toss to beat jump, no hesitation. Bhs loso with a moderate hip wave, but she finnessed well. Split jump to ring, slow connection and a little nervy. Piked gainer with a hop forward. Not perfect, but a very solid routine. 9.500, yikes.

Wilson (UK): Really low wolf full. Beautiful front tuck through to double tuck. Switch side to a wolf half, better position on the latter. Back 1.5 to front lay with good pop. Looks like a beam judges’ conference in the background? Yep, confirmed. 9.800

Davis (Mizz): She’s delivered a clutch beam routine before, and the Tigers need one now. Almost overrotated her full turn and reeled it back. Flawless bhs loso. Front toss that she full on missed her front foot on (don’t think the judges will be able to see that). Sheep good. Split leap to bhs side gainer full with a little hop. Like a said: She’s clutch. 9.825

Patterson (UK): HIGH back 1.5 to a somewhat flat front lay. Switch half with a low front leg. Switch ring to a strong switch side. Pretty short on her final double tuck and has to take a large bounding sep forward. 9.825 is way too high.

Sheremeta (Mizz): Big break on her bhs loso, but stays on. Full turn with straight leg. Front aerial to split to Shushunova, gorgeous. Scorpion kick, very cool. Gainer tucked full off the end of the beam with a little hop back. 9.700

Magnelli (UK): Punch Rudi to loso, excellent. Nice, high amplitude on her switch half to Popa. Pretty underrotated double tuck and has to take a controlled lunge forward. 9.825

Hu (Mizz): Lovely Korbut mount to cool handstands. Y full turn, smooth as can be. Front aerial to Liukin with a hint of a waver. Scale, great. Beat to split 3/4 with a well-finessed wobble. Bhs to stuck gainer full, just a slight pike down. Not her absolute best (i.e., not a 10), but gorgeous and confident throughout. 9.950 is high

Davis (UK): Overdoes her opening double pike and has a significant slide back. Her Popa series is sooo dynamic! Truly floaty back 1.5 to front lay (although someone’s feather boa obscured the landing). Back double tuck just a little over and she takes a big step back, but she keeps her front toe planted. Overall, great routine. 9.900

Schreiber (Mizz): Full turn, easy. Bhs loso loso with another big leg-up check. Switch side to split jump, good. Beat to side gainer full, stuck. Good, but won’t be the giant score Mizzou needed. 9.700

Worley (UK): Fabulous FTDT, little front foot slide. Switch ring to switch side, excellent. Love the wink to the camera. Fhs front full to front lay, perfectly done. Almost stuck her double tuck, took a last minute lunge out. Fantastic routine! 9.950

AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: Kentucky 147.875, Missouri 147.200

Not the beam rotation Mizzou wanted, but–as Coach Shannon Welker said on the broadcast, “That’s the way beam goes sometimes!” Floor is a great event for the Tigers, so they certainly have the ability to pull out a strong score.

Kentucky again left some tenths on the floor, though no major errors. The Wildcats don’t need to do more than their usual on beam to seal up the win, but if they can repeat last week’s 49.450-caliber rotation, they’ll have a fantastic road score heading into NQS.

Rotation Four: Kentucky beam, Missouri floor 

Luksik (UK): Welp… She immediately comes off on her Onodi. Bhs loso with a small hip check. Cat leap to a very low switch half. Bit of a shoulder drop on her full turn. Strong stuck(ish) gainer pike to finish. 9.100

Schreiber (Mizz): Punch Rudi to back lay to split to rebound, great form and control throughout. Punch full to front lay to stag, excellent. I love the juxtaposition of her little pigtail buns with this heavy metal music. Switch full series looked a hair low to me, but the angle was weird. 9.875

Procasky (UK): Bhs loso, fights through a wobble. Cat leap to switch ring with a small hip check. Front aerial to beat, very steady. Full turn, drops the shoulder a bit. Piked gainer full, very minor hop back. Great routine to get the Wildcats back on track! 9.775

Kratzer (Mizz): A bit wild on her opening double tuck and slides back on the landing. Excellent height and position on her straddle series. Back 1.5 to front lay, good control just a touch of knee softness on the latter. Chest a touch low on her double pike, but nailed the landing. Such a FUN performer, and such unexpected choreography. 9.825

Bunn (UK): Full turn, fine. Bhs loso loso, rock solid. Switch leap to split, just slightly low back leg on the split jump. RO back full with a little hop back and to the side. 9.900

Sheremeta (Mizz): Punch double front twist, fabulous. Really dynamic Popa series, gorgeous oversplit. Fhs Rudi to perfectly controlled loso. Shushunova, great. Back 1.5 to front loso, excellent. Fantastic routine! 9.925

Patterson (UK): Full turn, good. She makes the best faces during her routine. Bhs loso with a moderate hip check. Front aerial, solid. Switch split series, lovely position. Gainer pike was a little underrotated and she has to take a hop back. Overall, great job!

Moore (Mizz): OK, we’ve been told multiple times we’re on 10.0 watch, so let’s see… WOOOW, overpowers her DLO, tried so hard to hang onto that, but goes OOB. Great height on her switch splits. I really like that she doesn’t lose the precision in her dance skills while performing. Front tuck through to double tuck, perfect. 9.775 and I’m honestly OK with that. It was a stellar performance other than the break and OOB on the DLO.

Worley (UK): We missed the beginning of her routine so they could show fluff of her talking about singing on the beam. Great decision. Cat leap to switch side, no problems. Front aerial to bhs loso, aggressive and precise. Bit of a waver on her full turn. RO back 1.5 with a minor hop forward. 9.925

McCrary (UK): Front lay a bit flat to a pretty Rudi. Switch side to Popa, good amplitude. Double pike just a hair under, but she finessed that landing really nicely. Tuck half to Shushunova to finish.

Magnelli (UK): Bhs loso loso with a tiny waver and maybe some foot form? This head-on angle is the worst… Switch split to switch side, high and gorgeous oversplit. Small check after her front aerial. Textbook piked gainer, stuck. It was a gorgeous routine but 9.950 is way too high.

Celestine (Mizz): Fantastic FTDT, excellent control. Ah, cool! Her younger brother was on Junior DWTS and helped choreograph this! Didn’t quite hit the positions on her switch full series, low back leg. Dang, fully controlled double tuck to close out. Excellent finish for the Tigers. 9.925

FINAL: Kentucky 197.275, Missouri 196.600

A decisive win for the Wildcats and a road score head coach Tim Garrison will be more than happy to have. It wasn’t a perfect meet, which should put teams like LSU and Auburn on notice: THIS is what Kentucky can do on a good-but-not-great day. Underestimate them at your peril.

It’s a shame about the beam rotation, because that was otherwise a very strong showing from Mizzou.

VT: Moore and Worley, 9.950
UB: Luksik and Hu, 9.900

BB: Hu and Magnelli, 9.950
FX: Worley, 9.950
AA: Worley, 39.700

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Live blog by Claire Billman 

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