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Around the Columns

New gymnastics practice facility launches great season

golden barn

Mizzou gymnasts train in their part of the new Mizzou Gymnastics and Golden Girls 27,000-square-foot practice facility. Photo by Unho Yi.

After cutting the ribbon on a new Mizzou Gymnastics and Golden Girls Practice Facility in October, the gymnasts are off to a running (and jumping and vaulting and tumbling) start. The squad, ranked No. 26 in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches Poll, has climbed to No. 16 this week. On Feb 17, they take on No. 3 Oklahoma at the Hearnes Center.

The Kansas City architectural firm AECOM designed the 27,000-square-foot facility, which dedicates 14,500 square feet to gymnastics practice space and 3,000 square feet to the Golden Girls dance floor. The building also houses offices, a lounge area for each squad, a training room with a cardio equipment, Golden Girls wardrobe room, storage, and two locker rooms with showers.

Tiger gymnasts powered into the season with wins against Iowa State, Southern Utah, Denver, Nebraska and NC State, and the squad boasts a 195.017 team average. The Tigers put up a 195.925 team score against NC State, which tops its 2011 season high score of 195.400.

Freshman Rachel Updike is on fire. The Olathe, Kan., native was the first Tiger to break into the Top 25 National Rankings. According to GymInfo, she ranks No. 28 in the nation on vault, with an average score 9.867 and a season-high of 9.950. Updike ranks No. 32 in the nation on the balance beam and No. 28 on floor. On Feb. 7, she was named Newcomer of the Week for the fifth consecutive week.

Seniors Mary Burke (Iverness, Ill.) and Allie Heizelman (Cypress, Texas) rank No. 28 and No. 30 in the nation on the bars, respectively. Burke is also ranked at No. 29 for her all-around performances, with an average all-around score of 39.100. She was named to CollegeSports360’s Primetime Performers Honor Roll Jan. 31 after her performance against No. 4 Nebraska. She posted a season-high score on vault to contribute to a season-high team total on the event. She also scored a season-high 39.325 all-around score to help Missouri upset the Cornhuskers.