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.
Bars throw Arkansas off balance
Arkansas senior Katherine Grable competes on the beam on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, during the meet against Auburn at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. Grable scored a 9.925 in the event.
FAYETTEVILLE - A couple of slips on the uneven bars proved to be No. 10 Arkansas’ undoing Friday night at Barnhill Arena.
No. 12 Auburn capitalized with a solid performance, including hitting four consecutive beam routines after a fall, to escape with a 196.55 to 196.1 victory before a crowd of 3,304.
The Razorbacks (3-2, 1-2 SEC) outpointed Auburn (2-2, 1-2 SEC) on the vault, beam and floor exercise by a total of 0.2, but their mistakes on the bars - where freshman Amanda Wellick and senior anchor Shelby Salmon made major mistakes - on the second rotation couldn’t be overcome and allowed Auburn to pick up its first victory in Fayetteville.
“Bars surprised me tonight,” Arkansas co-Coach Mark Cook said. “We trained so well this week and then they get up there and they change their skills a little bit, for whatever reason, and then they have errors. So we kind of gave the meet away on bars by counting a fall.”
The Razorbacks, led by all-around champion Katherine Grable, performed solidly on the beam and floor exercise to close out the meet and had a glimmer of hope to snatch a late victory away when Auburn’s Lexus Demers came off the beam as the second performer up.
But MJ Rott, Bri Guy, Megan Walker and Caitlin Atkinson rallied the Tigers, staying on the beam to seal the victory.
“We basically had one day of practice all week because the ice storm that went through,” Auburn Coach Jeff Graba said. “We were a little worried we were going to be rusty, but I thought the girls handled it really well and rose to the occasion.”
Grable, who scored 39.575 to win her fourth all-around title of the season, also captured the floor (9.95) and the balance beam (9.925) to push her career event title count to 55.
Atkinson and Guy scored matching 39.45s in the all around to pace Auburn, and freshman MJ Rott won the vault (9.95) among three solid routines.
Arkansas got off to a blistering start, tying a school record with a 49.45 on the vault with every gymnast hitting a 9.8 or better. Senior Scarlett Williams led the way with a career-high-tying 9.925, while Grable, Wellick and Bailee Zumwalde each posted 9.9s.
“I finally settled in and do what I do every day in the gym,” Williams said. “It felt good to perform that in front of a crowd.”
The Razorbacks ended the first rotation with a lead of 0.475 over the Tigers, who notched a 48.975 on the bars.
But the lead got away quickly, with Wellick having her first fall of the season on her dismount in the fourth spot on the bars. Salmon, the Razorbacks’ most consistent bar worker, came off the low bar after making a transition from the high bar.
The Razorbacks pulled a fraction closer after the third rotation with their 49.2 on the beam, with Grable closing the event with a 9.925.
Arkansas returns to action next week against No. 3 LSU, which defeated No. 7 Alabama with a 197.65 on Friday.
Auburn 196.55, Arkansas 196.1
AUBURN UNEVEN BARS (48.975) Kullen Hlawek 9.55, Kait Kluz 9.75, Bri Guy 9.825, Kelsey Kopec 9.775, Meagan Walker 9.775, Caitlin Atkinson 9.85 VAULT (49.375) Brittany Webster 9.775, Kluz 9.85, Lexus Demers 9.825, Guy 9.9, MJ Rott 9.95, Atkinson 9.85 FLOOR (49.05) Kluz 9.7, Webster 9.775, Demers 9.425, Rott 9.85, Atkinson 9.85, Guy 9.875 BEAM (49.15) Caryn Kadous 9.775, Demers 9.15, Rott 9.75, Guy 9.85, Walker 9.875, Atkinson 9.9
ARKANSAS VAULT (49.45) Heather Elswick 9.85, Bailee Zumwalde 9.9, Stephanie Canizaro 9.825, Scarlett Williams 9.925, Amanda Wellick 9.9, Katherine Grable 9.9 UNEVEN BARS (48.325) Cailee Elsworth 9.7, Erin Freier 9.75, Canizaro 9.825, Wellick 9.25, Grable 9.8, Salmon 9.25 BEAM (49.2) Salmon 9.75, Freier 9.775, Wellick 9.85, Dillard 9.85, Samantha Nelson 9.8, Grable 9.925 FLOOR (49.125) Nelson 9.75, Dillard 9.75, Canizaro 9.4, Elswick 9.85, Wellick 9.825, Grable 9.95
ALL-AROUND COMPETITION VAULT 1. Rott, Aub. 9.95, 2. Williams, Ark.
9.925, 3. Grable, Ark. 9.9, Wellick, Ark. 9.9, Zumwalde, Ark. 9.9, Guy, Aub. 9.9 UNEVEN BARS 1. Atkinson, Aub. 9.85, 2.
Canizaro, Ark. 9.825, Guy, Aub. 9.825 BEAM 1. Grable, Ark. 9.925, 2. Atkinson, Aub.
9.9, 3. Walker, Aub. 9.875 FLOOR 1. Grable, Ark. 9.95, 2. Guy, Aub.
9.875, 3. Elswick, Ark. 9.85, Atkinson, Aub.
9.85, Rott 9.85 TOTAL 1. Grable, Ark. 39.575, 2. Atkinson, Aub.
39.45, Guy, Aub. 39.45
Sports, Pages 21 on 02/01/2014