Surging gymnasts face tough schedule

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, March 9, 2018
Arkansas gymnast Amanda Wellick performs on the beam during a meet against Georgia on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas gymnast Amanda Wellick performs on the beam during a meet against Georgia on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The surging Arkansas Razorbacks gymnastics team will compete in multi-team meets the next two weeks to prepare for the postseason.

Despite facing a grueling schedule, the No. 10 Razorbacks (3-8) are rounding into shape late in the season heading into tonight's quad meet at Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center.


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WHEN 6:45 p.m.

WHERE Loyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

RECORDS Oklahoma 8-1, Denver 12-3-1, Arizona State 6-5, Arkansas 3-8

RANKINGS No. 1 Oklahoma (197.98 RQS), No. 10 Arkansas (196.66), No. 12 Arizona State (196.51), No. 15 Denver (196.36)

EVENTS Vault: No. 1 Oklahoma 49.51, No. 9 Denver 49.175, No. 20 Arizona State 49.035, No. 21 Arkansas 49.015; Bars: No. 2 Oklahoma 49.5, No. 7 Arkansas 49.245, No. 15 Arizona State 49.145, No. 29 Denver 48.995; Beam: No. 1 Oklahoma 49.55, No. 9 Arkansas 49.25, No. 14 Arizona State 49.135, No. 19 Denver 49.105; Floor: No. 4 Oklahoma 49.455, No. 14 Arkansas 49.235, No. 16 Denver 49.23, No. 18 Arizona State 49.175


All-around: No. 33 Jessica Yamzon 39.179, No. 76 Sarah Shaffer 38.908

Vault: No. 20 Braie Speed 9.875, No. 60 Amanda Wellick 9.84, No. 71 Shaffer 9.83

Bars: No. 25 Wellick 9.88, No. 36 Shaffer 9.865, No. 41 Speed 9.86, No. 77 Sydney Laird 9.84

Beam: No. 13 Sophia Carter 9.9, No. 27 Michaela Burton 9.885, No. 64 Yamzon 9.85, No. 73 9.84

Floor: No. 18 Shaffer 9.9, No. 75 (tie) Burton and Yamzon 9.855


Arkansas is 5-1 vs. Arizona State, 1-13 vs. Oklahoma and 2-5 vs. Denver. … The Razorbacks have won their last five competitions against the Sun Devils, the last four at NCAA regionals with the latest being a 196.375 to 194.425 decision at the 2014 NCAA Fayetteville Regional. … Arkansas had competed against the Sooners in nine consecutive years prior to last season. … The Razorbacks finished fourth in their last quad meet at the Mardi Gras Invitational against No. 4 LSU, No. 20 Missouri and No. 21 George Washington in St. Charles, Mo., on Feb. 16.

"This is going to be a big challenge," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "It's a very competitive meet."

The Razorbacks will compete in their final road meet at No. 1 Oklahoma (8-1) that will serve as the Sooners' senior night. No. 12 Arizona State (6-5) and No. 15 Denver (12-3-1) will round out the high-quality field for the 6:45 p.m. meet.

Arkansas will have faced 13 top 25 opponents in 10 weeks, and six of the top 10, at the conclusion of the weekend.

"This is probably one of the most competitive years I can remember with teams from No. 7 to probably 20 within a tenth or two of each other. It's really packed in there this year as far as the parity."

Arkansas posted its second-best road score ever with a 196.875 at Florida two weeks ago, and backed that up with a program-record 197.275 in a victory over Arizona at Barnhill Arena last week.

"We've gained more momentum through the season than some of the years past and I think we have some really good freshmen as well," Cook said.

Adding senior All-American Amanda Wellick into the all-around mix has also played a role in the improved scoring the past two weeks. The Razorbacks have the nation's No. 7 uneven bars team and the No. 9 balance beam lineup.

The Razorbacks have three gymnasts ranked in the top 25. Freshman Sophia Carter is No. 13 on the beam with a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 9.9, freshman Sarah Shaffer is No. 18 on the floor exercise (9.9), and senior Braie Speed is No. 20 on the vault (9.875).

The Sooners posted the nation's highest score (198.375) last week and have been No. 1 for eight consecutive weeks. Oklahoma has scored 197.5 or better in all but one meet and 198 or higher in five meets, including a 198.125 in its lone loss at No. 5 Florida.

The Sooners are led by the nation's top-ranked all-arounder Maggie Nichols, who has a 39.755 regional qualifying score. Nichols has dominated this season, tying for first nationally on the bars (9.945) and beam (9.96), ranking second on the floor exercise (9.945), and tying for second on the vault (9.94). Her teammate Brenna Dowell is tied with her on the vault and is 15th on bars (9.9), while Sooner Nicole Lehrmann is No. 7 on the beam (9.925).

Sports on 03/09/2018


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