Arkansas gymnasts aiming for 4th in row over Alabama

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, February 2, 2018
Arkansas' Sydney McGlone competes Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in the vault portion of the 11th-ranked Razorbacks' meet with sixth-ranked Kentucky in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Sydney McGlone competes Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in the vault portion of the 11th-ranked Razorbacks' meet with sixth-ranked Kentucky in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks gymnasts will aim for a worthy follow-up to their best score in two years and to keep their dual meet hot streak against Alabama alive tonight.

The Razorbacks (1-3 overall, 1-3 SEC) will take on the No. 10 Crimson Tide (2-2, 2-1 SEC) at 7:30 p.m. Central at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Arkansas gymnastics at Alabama

WHEN 7:30 p.m. Central

WHERE Coleman Coliseum (15,000), Tuscaloosa, Ala.

RECORDS Arkansas 1-3, 1-3 SEC; Alabama 2-2, 2-1 SEC

TV None

INTERNET SEC Network-Plus

RANKINGS No. 8 Arkansas 196.3 average; No. 10 Alabama 196.194

EVENTS Vault: No. 9 Arkansas 49.044, No. 20 Alabama 48.906; Bars: No. 6 Alabama 49.206, No. 13 Arkansas 48.956; Beam: No. 4 Arkansas 49.256, No. 13 Alabama 49.013; Floor: No. 15 Alabama 49.069; No. 19 Arkansas 49.044

TOP ATHLETES (top 100)

All-around No. 28 Jessica Yamzon (Ark) 39.175, No. 43 Wynter Childers (Ala) 39.075, No. 75 Sarah Shaffer (Ark) 38.831

Vault No. 11 Nickie Guerrero (Ala) 9.881 No. 22 Braie Speed (Ark) 9.863, No. 50 Sydney McGlone (Ark) 9.831, No. 56 (tie) Amanda Wellick (Ark), Shea Mahoney (Ala) 9.825

Bars No. 9 Lexi Graber (Ala.) 9.9, No. 11 Kiana Winston (Ala) 9.894, No. 38 Wellick (Ark), Ariana Guerra (Ala) 9.844, No. 43 Mackenzie Brannan (Ala) 9.842, No. 54 Speed (Ark) 9.825, No. 72 Kylie Dickson (Ala) 9.813, No. 84 Childers (Ala) 9.8

Beam No. 10 (tie) Sophia Carter (Ark), Winston (Ala) 9.894, No. 22 Yamzon (Ark) 9.869, No. 27 Michaela Burton (Ark) 9.862, No. 31 Graber (Ala) 9.85, No. 52 Wellick (Ark) 9.837, No. 61 (tie) Guerrero (Ala), Abby Armbrecht (Ala) 9.825

Floor No. 44 Armbrecht (Ala) 9.856, No. 74 Shaffer (Ark) 9.831, No. 78 Yamzon (Ark) 9.825, No. 94 (tie) Guerrero (Ala), Winston (Ala) 9.819

MEET NOTES

Alabama leads the series 32-5-1, including 6-1 at Coleman Coliseum. Arkansas won the last meet in Tuscaloosa 196.7 to 196.4 on Jan. 22, 2016. … The teams have split the last six meetings, with Arkansas winning each dual meet and Alabama winning at the SEC championships. … The Razorbacks are 0.013 behind No. 7 Michigan in average score.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, coming off a 197.175-196.125 victory over No. 11 Georgia, will shoot for its fourth consecutive dual-meet victory over the Tide.

"We talked about enjoying the performance we had but realizing we have more work to do," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "We can still improve our position and enjoy the victory but move forward to the next challenge. It's important for us to cycle emotionally and get back up for this meet at Alabama and to be ready."

Arkansas is in the midst of opening the season against seven six consecutive SEC opponents for the first time. Each of the opponents is ranked in the top 25.

The Razorbacks have maintained a top-10 ranking by blending a lineup led by veterans Amanda Wellick, Braie Speed and Sydney McGlone with a group of young talent like all-arounders Jessica Yamzon and Sarah Shaffer, as well as Michaela Burton, Sydney Laird and freshman Sophia Carter, who scored a school-record 9.975 on the balance beam and a 9.95 on the floor exercise last week to earn SEC specialist of the week honors.

"Coach tells me to go out there and be you and I was really happy I could deliver that," Carter said on Friday.

Cook said Carter cannot put too much pressure on herself after the big showing.

"When you have performances like that you start thinking you've got to be perfect," Cook said. "She was really dialed in, and now she just has to keep focused."

Carter is the nation's No. 10 beam worker, tied with Alabama's Kiana Winston. Yamzon moved up 12 spots in the weekly all-around rankings to No. 28 with an average of 39.175 after scoring 39.425 against Georgia.

The Razorbacks maintained their No. 4 ranking in the balance beam after scoring 49.425, the second-highest team score on the apparatus, last week. All six Arkansas performers on the floor set season highs en route to a 49.475 to cap the command performance against the Bulldogs.

Cook said volunteer coach Courtney McCool Griffeth has done a good job polishing up the routines for a floor team that is gaining momentum without key contributors Wellick and McGlone, who are slowly working their way back after injuries.

"The choreography is great, but the landings were a little rough the first few meets," Cook said. "We've started handling them a little better."

Alabama has dominated the series, but the Razorbacks upset the Tide in the last meeting at Coleman Coliseum for their first road victory in the series.

"We've had their number the last three times, so I told the girls ... they'e always gracious and nice but this year they might be a little bit less because they've been struggling a little bit this year and we have beaten them the last three [dual meets]," Cook said. "We're preparing for a little bit more angst entering Alabama this weekend."

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