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.
Gym'Backs fall in opener
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE -- Arkansas freshman Heather Elswick competes on the bars during a meet with Georgia Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE No. 11 Georgia nailed the vault on its second rotation to take the lead Friday night, then held on after a fall on the beam to claim a 196.2 to 195.775 victory over No. 12 Arkansas in an SEC opener.
A crowd of 2,407 at Barnhill Arena saw the debut of five Arkansas freshmen, who turned in a solid showing, and Katherine Grable, who started the year in near mid-season form by capturing the allaround with a 39.45.
“We’ve had some changes in our lineup and a few injuries and things like that, and we weren’t sure how some of the freshmen would respond, but we did a really good job tonight,” Arkansas Co-Coach Mark Cook said. “We know we have to make some improvements, but all in all, very pleased with the starting point this year.”
The Razorbacks (0-1, 0-1) did not count a fall but had too many minor deductions on the uneven bars, a couple of other mistakes on the beam and floor, and could not approach their sizzling season-opening 196.45 from last season.
The No. 12 Razorbacks lost their season opener 196.2-195.775
Arkansas' Katherine Grable won best all-around with a score of 39.45 points
Grable posted a 9.875 on the vault, then fell back to a 9.775 on the bars. The junior from Oshkosh, Wisc., had a 9.875 on the beam, then capped the meet with a rousing 9.925 on the floor, the best score of the night for either team, to finish with 39.45 in the all-around.
“Obviously some of my events were not as good as I usually train,” Grable said. “I was a little tight in the beginning, and I tried to work myself out throughout the meet and my team helped.”
Cook said Grable is a “proven commodity.”
“I mean, the kid is an All-American and one of the top kids in the country,” Cook said. “She was a little bit off on the bars with a couple of handstands, but she was huge on her other three events.”
Arkansas held a slim lead after opening with a 49.1 on the vault, but Georgia (1-1, 1-0) posted a 49.325 on the vault — led by Cat Hires’ 9.9 and Brittany Rogers’ 9.875 — to grab an advantage of more than half a point.
Arkansas pulled to within 0.4 points with a 48.95 on the beam with four gymnasts hitting their routines after a fall, including back-to-back 9.875s by freshman Sydnie Dillard and Grable.
The Bulldogs left the door open slightly after Christa Tanella’s fall on the beam on the final rotation, but Shayla Worley scored 9.9 and Kaylan Earls scored 9.875 to clinch the victory.
“We were pleased for it to come down to the wire on beam and for us to really do well under pressure,” said Georgia Coach Danna Durante, whose team debuted with a 195.425 in a home loss to Oklahoma last week.
Georgia’s Hires and Lindsey Cheek scored 9.9s to win the vault, and Georgia’s Chelsea Davis and Tanella tied for the victory on the bars with 9.85s. Worley won the beam with her 9.9 and Grable easily captured the floor exercise with her meet-high 9.925.
The Razorbacks go on the road next week to Kentucky, while Georgia faces Auburn in Athens, Ga.
Bars (49.025) Lindsey Cheek 9.7, Cat Hires 9.725, Christa Tanella 9.85, Brittany Rogers 9.825, Shayla Worley 9.775, Chelsea Davis 9.85.
VAULT (49.325) Chelsea Davis 9.8, Sarah Persinger 9.8, Lindsey Cheek 9.9, Brittany Rogers 9.875, Cat Hires 9.9, Bandie Jay 9.85.
FLOOR (48.825) Kaylan Earls 9.7, Christa Tanella 9.875, Cat Hires 9.7, Sarah Persinger 9.85, Brandie Jay 9.6, Shayla Worley 9.8 .
BEAM (49.025) Lindsey Cheek 9.85, Sarah Persinger 9.775, Brittany Rogers 9.625, Christa Tanella 9.275, Shayla Worley 9.9, Kaylan Earls 9.875.
VAULT (49.1) Amy Borsellino 9.8, Bailee Zumwalde 9.75, Kelci Lewis 9.85, Heather Elswick 9.825, Katherine Grable 9.875, Erin Freier 9.725.
BARS (48.725) Amy Borsellino 9.775, Heather Elswick 9.575, Shelby Salmon 9.775, Keara Glover 9.675, Katherine Grable 9.775, Kelci Lewis9.725.
BEAM (48.95) Amy Borsellino 9.65, Erin Freier 9.0, Shelby Salmon 9.75, Keara Glover 9.8, Sydnie Dillard 9.875, Katherine Grable 9.875.
FLOOR (49.0) Bailee Zumwalde 9.8, Sydnie Dillard 9.85, Heather Elswick 9.775, Kelci Lewis 9.75, Amy Borsellino 9.125, Katherine Grable 9.925.
Sports, Pages 17 on 01/12/2013