UA's best championship leads to sixth-place finish

By: Jeremy Muck
Published: Sunday, March 20, 2016
Arkansas' Makenzie Anderson competes in the floor exercise of the 2016 SEC Gymnastics competition at Verizon Arena Saturday, March 19, 2016.
Photo by Melissa Gerrits
Arkansas' Makenzie Anderson competes in the floor exercise of the 2016 SEC Gymnastics competition at Verizon Arena Saturday, March 19, 2016.

The Arkansas gymnastics team finished sixth in the SEC Gymnastics Championships on Saturday at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, but the Razorbacks posted their best conference championship score in program history.

Arkansas finished with a score of 196.500. It bested the 2013 mark of 196.400, which also took place at Verizon Arena.

"We did really well," Razorbacks Coach Mark Cook said. "We didn't count any falls. This is the highest score we've scored since we started the program in 2003. We had a really good meet."

Arkansas was second in the first session, finishing with a team score of 196.500. Georgia had the best first session score, 196.750. Kentucky was third in the session (196.250), followed by Missouri (195.750).

Florida won the SEC championship, besting Alabama 197.775-197.750. The Gators and Crimson Tide competed in the second session with Auburn and LSU.

Junior Amanda Wellick had an all-around score of 39.300. Her top event Saturday was in the floor exercise, where she tied with classmate Samantha Nelson with a 9.875.

Sophomore all-arounder Paige Zaziski posted a 9.875 in the uneven bars to open the meet as the Razorbacks were tied second with Kentucky after the first rotation behind Georgia, 49.300-49.100.

However, Arkansas fell to third after competing in the balance beam in the second rotation. Nelson led Arkansas in the balance beam with a 9.90.

Arkansas responded in the third rotation with a strong showing in the floor exercise by Nelson and Wellick. Nelson and Wellick earned the first session's top score in the floor exercise, earning a 9.875.

"The floor was really strong for us today," Cook said.

In the vault, three Razorbacks, Wellick, Zaziski and freshman Sydney McGlone, all posted a score of 9.850.

During Saturday's first session, Arkansas, the No. 13 team according to the Road to the Nationals Top 25, went up against the No. 8 team in the nation, Georgia as well as No. 20 Missouri and No. 22 Kentucky. Georgia was seeded fifth in the championship, followed by sixth-seeded Arkansas, No. 7 seed Missouri and eighth-seeded Kentucky.

Cook commended the Verizon Arena crowd of 5,981, which was the largest attended SEC meet in North Little Rock. Verizon Arena also hosted the SEC meet in 2007 and 2013.

"It was a great crowd," Cook said. "It was very vocal. We had about 40 or 50 family members from the team as well. I thought Little Rock turned up well for the meet."

Sports on 03/20/2016

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