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.
Arkansas’ best isn’t enough to top LSU
Arkansas junior Stephani Canizaro competes on the beam on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, during a meet against Louisiana State at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. Canizaro scored a 9.825 in the event.
FAYETTEVILLE - No. 11 Arkansas posted its best score of the gymnastics season, but it wasn’t enough to hang tight on a hot night for LSU.
The No. 3 Tigers won every event, including a big spread of 0.375 on the floor, to beat the Razorbacks handily 197.225 to 196.275 before an estimated crowd of 3,421 at Barnhill Arena.
Arkansas (3-3, 1-3 SEC) led after one rotation but could not keep up with the relentless pressure from the Tigers (4-1, 3-1 SEC).
“I thought we competed really well tonight. We were much stronger on all four events,” Arkansas Co-Coach Rene Lyst said.
“The Arkansas team really pushed us to be good tonight,” LSU Coach D-D Breaux said. “They really pushed us to compete.”
LSU improved to 23-5-1 in the all-time series against Arkansas.
The meet’s big drama wound up revolving around the all-around competition for the past couple of events. Arkansas’ No. 4-ranked Katherine Grable, in a close battle with LSU’s No. 2-ranked Rheagan Courville, was almost flawless in the anchor spot on the floor exercise, scoring a 9.95 to edge Courville 39.625 to 39.6 in the all-around.
“It felt great to go out there and win. LSU and Rheagan, they’re amazing gymnasts, so it was great to score as high as we did,” Grable said. “I knew going into the last event that we were really close. I knew I had to hit to win.”
Grable has won the all-around in all five meets this season.
“I think Katherine’s just phenomenal,” Lyst said. “For her to keep winning the all-around week in and week out, it’s definitely exciting for her and the program.”
Arkansas topped its previous-best score of 196.2 by .075, but the Razorbacks felt it could have been even higher.
“I think we did a fantastic job tonight,” Grable said. “The judges were really tight on the scores. This was definitely the best meet we had this year, but the score didn’t show it.”
Courville tied for two event titles with teammates Ashleigh Gnat on the vault with 9.9s and with Jessie Jordan on the beam at 9.925.
Grable was on the podium on all four events, winning the floor exercise and placing second on the uneven bars (9.9) behind LSU’s Sarie Morrison (9.925).
“The anchor for Arkansas did a terrific job,” Breaux said. “To do what she needed to win the all-around, that’s quite a competitor.”
Arkansas had its solid vault performance in a row, a 49.25, to seize a slender lead over the Tigers, who scored 49.2 on the bars during the first rotation.
LSU, ranked second nationally on the vault, put up a 49.375 on the event to move ahead by .25, as Arkansas was scoring 49.075 on the bars.
The Tigers gained nearly half a point in the third rotation, blasting off with a 49.4, led by 9.925s from Courville and Lloimincia Hall, who posted a 10 at home last week. Grable had yet another prime beam performance with a 9.9 to lead Arkansas, but three successive Razorbacks had to battle to stay on the beam and the wobbles led to a 48.925.
LSU 197.225, Arkansas 196.275 LSU UNEVEN BARS (49.2) Kaleigh Dickson 9.775, Randii Wyrick 9.7, Jessie Jordan 9.85, Britney Razny 9.8, Rheagan Courville 9.85, Sarie Morrison 9.925.
VAULT (49.375) Dickson 9.825, Jordan 9.875, Ranzy 9.85, Ashleigh Gnat 9.9, Morrison 9.85, Courville 9.9.
FLOOR (49.4) Dickson 9.75, Jordan 9.8, Gnat 9.875, Jessica Savona 9.875, Courville 9.925, Lloimincia Hall 9.925.
BEAM (49.25) Hall 9.775, Savona 9.825, Dickson 9.675, Gnat 9.8, Courville 9.925, Jordan 9.925.
ARKANSAS VAULT (49.25) Heather Elswick 9.8, Bailee Zumwalde 9.825, Stephanie Canizaro 9.85, Scarlett Williams 9.85, Amanda Wellick 9.85, Katherine Grable 9.875.
UNEVEN BARS (49.075) Cailee Ellsworth 9.7, Erin Freier 9.8, Canizaro 9.725, Wellick 9.7, Grable 9.9, Shelby Salmon 9.85. BEAM (48.925) Salmon 9.65, Freier 9.65, Wellick 9.725, Sydnie Dillard 9.825, Samantha Nelson 9.825, Grable 9.9.
FLOOR (49.025) Nelson 9.725, Dillard 9.7, Canizaro 9.675, Elswick 9.825, Wellick 9.825, Grable 9.95.
ALL-AROUND TOTALS 1. Grable, Arkansas, 39.625; 2. Courville, LSU 39.6; 3. Jordan, LSU 39.45.
Sports, Pages 19 on 02/08/2014