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 rallies to nip Auburn
Samantha Nelson of Arkansas dismounts from the beam against Missouri Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
The No. 24 Arkansas gymnastics team came from behind on the final rotation and posted a season-high score to knock off No. 17 Auburn on Friday night at Auburn Arena.
The Razorbacks (2-3, 2-2 SEC) rallied on their strongest event, the balance beam, to surge to a 196.375 and keep the Tigers (0-6, 0-5 SEC) winless. Auburn had a couple of major mistakes on the floor exercise and finished with a 196.075.
The Tigers took the lead after two events and were still in the lead by 0.25 points entering the final rotation. Arkansas senior Samantha Nelson matched a career best with a 9.9 on the beam, while freshmen Jessica Yamzon and Michaela Burton had career-high 9.875s to spur the Arkansas comeback for its second dual-meet victory in a row after beating No. 5 Alabama last week.
Auburn finished poorly with a 48.575 on the floor exercise, with Kullen Hlawek (9.1) and Emma Slappey (9.05) having major errors.
Arkansas evened the all-time series at 15-15.
Arkansas scored season highs on the uneven bars (49.2) and vault (48.975) and tied its season best on the floor exercise (49.075) before closing the door with a 49.125 on the balance beam.
Yamzon posted her season high in the all-around for the second consecutive meet, winning the event with a 39.275.
Nelson tied Auburn’s Taylor Krippner for first on the beam, with Burton and Yamzon tying for third in the event.
Arkansas junior Braie Speed placed second in the vault (9.85) behind Auburn’s M.J. Rott (9.9.).
The Tigers swept the top four spots in the bars, but all six of Arkansas’ gymnasts had 9.8s or higher in the event, including 9.85s by Burton, Yamzon and freshman Hailey Garner, to keep Auburn from running away, despite its 49.375 on the bars.
Nelson and Yamzon posted 9.85s to tie for third place on the floor behind Auburn’s Samantha Cerio (9.9).
The Razorbacks return home to face No. 2 LSU in Barnhill Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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