The opening-night of college gymnastics is always a chance for teams to work their way into the season and start slowly, however there is always a chance for teams to really lay down a marker about their talent and potential for the coming season. Two teams who did that Friday night were visiting Missouri and host team Arizona State, going one-two in an intriguing quad meet.The Tigers scored a 195.450 and the Sun Devils a 195.000 to defeat Minnesota’s 194.150 and UIC’s mark of 193.925.

For the Tigers, Missouri relied heavily on a trio of talented veteran gymnasts, Aspen Tucker, Madeleine Huber, and Britney Ward to give a solid team performance a final boost over a talented Arizona State squad for the quad meet win. On the vault, it was Tucker and her powerful gymnastics getting the job done with a 9.850 while Madeleine Huber impressed on uneven bars with a score of 9.875. The best performance of the night came from the Tigers’ Britney Ward, who posted a big 9.950, before Tucker rounded things out again for Missouri with a 9.900 from her powerful floor routine.

Britney Ward competes on the balance beam for the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Missouri/Mizzou Athletics

For the host team Sun Devils, everything revolved around ASU sophomore and breakthrough phenom last season Cairo Leonard-Baker. Leonard-Baker came out as a huge weapon for Arizona State in their rapid rise back up the NCAA Gymnastics rankings in 2018 and she delivered at the season-opening quad meet with a pair of 9.900s on the uneven bars and the floor exercise.

Minnesota brought impressive routines from some of their top talents to Tempe for the season-opener, however the Golden Gophers struggled with consistency across their lineups. On vault, Gopher star Lexy Ramler posted a big 9.900 and Ona Loper went 9.850 while on uneven bars, Minnesota’s best event, Ramler contributed another 9.900 while Ivy Lu put up a 9.850 to go with it. Ramler, a sophomore former US elite, continued her brilliant night with another 9.900 on the balance beam before her and Paige Williams closed the meet for Minnesota on the floor exercise with scores of 9.825.

UIC struggled with depth across its lineups at stages throughout the quad meet against top teams in Missouri, Arizona State, and Minnesota, however strong scores from Kayla Baddeley on vault with a 9.800 and Alisa Sheremeta on beam with a 9.850 and floor with a 9.825 helped keep UIC in contention over the meet.

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