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 out to end 4-meet skid
Arkansas senior Katherine Grable competes on the bars on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, during a meet against Louisiana State at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. Grable scored a 9.9 in the event.
FAYETTEVILLE - The Arkansas gymnastics team has held pretty steady right outside the top 10 most of the season, but the No. 13 Razorbacks would like to add a much higher team score and stop a losing skid tonight.
The Razorbacks will take a four-meet losing streak into today’s 7 p.m. competition against Kentucky at Barnhilll Arena.
Arkansas vs. Kentucky
WHEN 7 p.m. today
WHERE Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville
TICKETS $6 general admission, $4 17 and younger, $2 groups of 10 or more
RECORDS Kentucky 4-7, 1-3 SEC; Arkansas 3-4, 1-4 SEC
RANKINGS Arkansas is No. 13; Kentucky is No. 31
EVENTS Vault: No. 11 Arkansas (49.154), No. 30 Kentucky (48.792); Bars: No. 19 Arkansas (48.892), No. 33 Kentucky (48.546); Beam: No. 8 Arkansas (49.042), 45 Kentucky (48.0); Floor: No. 16 Arkansas (49.038), No. 18 Kentucky (49.004).
NOTEWORTHY Arkansas leads the all-time series by a 19-2-1 margin. … The Razorbacks ended a two-meet losing streak to the Wildcats with a 196.4 to 194.6 victory in last year’s SEC Championships in North Little Rock.
“I’m ready to win a meet,” Arkansas sophomore Heather Elswick said. “I’m not only ready to win, I’m ready to get a 197, get our scores up and get some confidence there for later in the postseason.”
Arkansas (3-4, 1-4 SEC) has scored between 196.275 and 196.025 in all six meets, but it hasn’t been enough to knock off SEC powers like Florida, LSU and Alabama in recent weeks and it hasn’t met team goals.
“We’ve been very consistent this year in the 196s, but we have so much potential to go a lot higher,” sophomore Sydnie Dillard said.
“We’re in a good position for [regional qualifying scores] coming up, but you want to beat teams,” Arkansas co-Coach Rene Lyst said. “You want to feel that excitement of winning the meet and having a good job be rewarded with a win.
“I think we’re looking to really perform our routines this weekend and not just make them. We want to actually perform them and take them to another level, get rid of the little deductions we’ve been having, have a little more showmanship and just really exude a lot more confidence than we probably have the last few meets to try and up our scoring potential as much as possible.”
The Razorbacks are led by senior Katherine Grable, the nation’s No. 2 all-around performer with an average score of 39.542. Grable’s five-meet winning streak in the all-around was snapped last week by Florida’s Bridget Sloan, who leads the nation with a 39.575 average.
Kentucky (4-7, 1-3 SEC) has lost to five consecutive opponents since posting a 195.15 to 193.775 victory at Missouri on Jan. 24.
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/21/2014