No. 10 Razorbacks rout No. 11 Bulldogs

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, January 27, 2018
Arkansas' Mia Bargiacchi competes during a meet against Georgia on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas' Mia Bargiacchi competes during a meet against Georgia on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks gymnasts helped wash away the sting of last year's injury-plagued season with a breakout performance Friday against No. 11 Georgia before a large, rowdy crowd at Barnhill Arena.

Freshman Sophia Carter broke the school record with a 9.975 on the balance beam to help trigger a 49.425, the second-best score in school history, on the event. Sophomore Jessica Yamzon opened the beam with a career best 9.95 and classmate Michaela Burton matched her with a 9.95, also a career high, in the anchor position as the Razorbacks took control of the meet.

Propelled by a vocal crowd of 5,517, the third-largest at Barnhill Arena, Arkansas (1-3, 1-3) routed the GymDogs 197.175 to 196.125.

The Razorbacks posted their third-best score in program history, behind a pair of 197.225s; won their first dual meet since last Feb. 3 at Auburn; and beat Georgia (1-3, 1-2) head-to-head for the first time since Feb. 4, 2011.

"Beating them was just icing on the cake," said Arkansas senior Braie Speed, who tied for second on the vault (9.85) and the bars (9.875).

"Last year was really hard on everybody physically and emotionally and our hearts. To do what we did tonight, it was emotional because we finally have the opportunity to show how good we are."

Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said he knew a 197 was within reach for his club, which returned All-American all-around gymnast Amanda Wellick after her Achilles injury early last season.

"We definitely came in here to beat the opponent," Cook said. "It wasn't just about coming in here and doing our best. We came in here with the intention to beat our opponent and try to get a high score. And we did achieve both of those things, so we're all really proud of the team."

After Carter stuck her dismount on the beam, the crowd began chanting "10! 10! 10!" and one of the two judges compiled, though the other gave her a 9.95.

"It kind of just felt normal to me," Carter said of her beam work. "But I guess it was really good. I'm not sure."

Carter added a 9.95 to win the floor exercise, followed by fellow Arkansas freshman Sarah Shaffer (9.9) and Georgia's Rachel Dickson (9.9). All of the Razorbacks' other counting scores on the event were 9.875s by Burton, Yamzon and Hailey Garner.

"We all went in there and we attacked everything," said Yamzon. "We had so much fun tonight, so that just helped. The energy was up and I thought that was really great."

Georgia's Sydney Snead captured the all-around with a 39.525 with no score lower than a 9.825, including an event-winning 9.9 on the uneven bars.

Yamzon and Dickson tied for second in the all-around with 39.425, a career-best for Yamzon by 0.125. Shaffer posted a 39.35 in the all-around, which was her season best, and won the vault with a 9.875.

Georgia took a fractional lead after the first rotation, with the GymDogs scoring 49.175 on bars. Arkansas posted a 49.1 on the vault, led by Shaffer's winning score.

The Razorbacks surged into the lead at the halfway point with a season-high 49.175 on the bars. Shaffer and Speed led the way with matching 9.875s to tie Georgia's Marissa Oakley for second.

Cook said the Razorbacks were a few strong landings away from maxing out their potential.

"We've just got to get in that zone a little bit more," Cook said. "We were close to it tonight. But as far as owning all the landings, that's really being in the zone. We're not quite there but we're moving in that direction."

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Sports on 01/27/2018

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