UA gymnasts' best results in tie for 3rd

By: Mike Capshaw
Published: Sunday, April 2, 2017
Arkansas' Makenzie Anderson competes Saturday, April 1, 2017, in the bars portion of the NCAA Gymnastics Fayetteville Regional in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Makenzie Anderson competes Saturday, April 1, 2017, in the bars portion of the NCAA Gymnastics Fayetteville Regional in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks senior Amanda Wellick couldn't participate in Saturday's NCAA Gymnastics regional, but the All-American made an impact anyway.

Wellick, sidelined by an Achilles injury since January, put together what Coach Mark Cook called an inspirational video that the Razorbacks watched prior to Saturday's meet. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville rose from a fifth seed to a tie for third place behind a season-high score of 196.600 in front of a lively crowd of 2,230 at Barnhill Arena.

At a glance

NCAA GYMNASTICS FAYETTEVILLE REGIONAL Results

School Score

1 Utah* 197.150

2 Denver* 197.050

3 Arkansas 196.600

3 Auburn 196.600

5 California 196.300

6 Central Michigan 195.675

*qualified for NCAA Championships

"We just got dialed in," Cook said. "The motivational stuff we did, like Amanda Wellick's video, helped get them ready for the mental game, which is a big part of gymnastics because they have to perform under pressure."

Top-seeded Utah won the six-team Fayetteville Regional with a 197.150 to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships, which is set for April 14-15 in St. Louis. The Utes advanced along with Denver, which scored 197.05. Arkansas and fellow SEC member Auburn tied for third place, ahead of third seed Cal (196.3) and Central Michigan (195.675).

The Utes, ranked No. 4 nationally, placed three gymnasts in the top five overall and were led by freshman All-American Mykayla Skinner, who won the overall title with a total of 39.525.

Utah Coach Megan Marsden said the judges liked the Utes' explosion and athleticism, especially the "height and distance" of their jumps on the vault. It's the program's 42nd consecutive trip to the national finals.

"[The streak] is something at this time of the year that I try not to think a lot about," Marsden said. "Each year it becomes more difficult to make it. There's more competive teams out there ... so I try not to worry too much about that kind of thing. I just want our team to focus on being prepared."

Denver earned its first trip to the NCAA finals, just .100 behind the Utes' winning score. Senior Julia Ross said it "gave her chills just thinking about making program history."

Two Razorbacks, juniors Jessica Yamzon and Braie Speed, qualified for the NCAA Championships as individuals. Yamzon's 39.175 total was the second-highest score among all-arounders not on a qualifying team. Speed, who called making nationals "super awesome," tied for first in the vault with a 9.900.

Led by Speed's victory in the vault and runner-up finishes by senior Samantha Nelson and sophomore Sydney McGlone in the floor exercise, the Razorbacks were able to exceed expectations despite suffering hardships throughout the season. In addition to Wellick, they also lost junior Mia Bargiacchi and freshman Sarah Shaffer to injuries.

"Had we had all our heavy hitters, we definitely would have been over a 197," Cook said. "These guys know that. They know they can compete in this situation, so the learning experience was exponential for this program."

Sports on 04/02/2017

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