Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
UA gymnasts try to break Tide skid
Arkansas co-head coach Mark Cook speaks to senior Amy Borsellino before her performance on the bars during a meet with Georgia Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in Barnhil Arena on the UA campus in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE The Arkansas gymnastics team will look to break the 196 mark for the second time this season and aim for an upset of defending national champion Alabama tonight at Barnhill Arena.
The No. 19 Razorbacks, whose losses have all come against top-15 teams, will take on the No. 4 Crimson Tide at 7 p.m.
Alabama (4-2, 4-2 SEC) has dominated the series against the Razorbacks with a 26-2 record, including 12 meets in a row. Arkansas’ lone victories in the series came in a quad meet at UCLA on March 9, 2008, and in a dual meet in Fayetteville on Jan. 30, 2009, by a 196.625 to 196.525 count.
Arkansas, which has dealt with injuries and inexperience to begin the season, has slowly gathered momentum in recent weeks, with a high score of 196.175 coming in a loss to No. 1 Florida on Feb. 1.
“We’ve got to hit a lot more dynamically,” Arkansas Co-Coach Rene Lyst said. “We’ve got to be a lot more confident, a lot more aggressive. … We just have to be a little bit sharper on every single thing we do.”
Alabama has been consistent, scoring between 196.45 and 196.95 in its first five meets before breaking out with a 197.65 in a home victory over Auburn last week. Crimson Tide senior Ashley Sledge is the reigning SEC gymnast of the week after scoring 9.9s on the vault, bars and floor last week.
Arkansas junior Katherine Grable ranks No. 24 on the all-around (39.2) and vault and No. 25 on the beam, while freshman Sydnie Dillard is No. 19 on the beam.
At a glance
GYMNASTICS NO. 4 ALABAMA AT NO. 19 ARKANSAS
WHEN 7 tonight WHERE Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Alabama 4-2, 4-2 SEC; Arkansas 1-5, 0-5 NOTEWORTHY The Razorbacks, trying to overcome a slow start, are averaging 195.296 per meet while Alabama is averaging 196.842. … Arkansas ranks No. 18 on the bars, No. 21 on the beam, No. 23 on the vault and No. 29 on the floor. … Alabama is No. 4 on the vault, No. 5 on the bars and beam and No. 6 on the floor.. Tonight’s meet will be broadcast at 4 p.m. Thursday on ESPNU and again at 5 p.m. March 3 on ESPN2.
Sports, Pages 19 on 02/22/2013