Arkansas gymnasts face solid regional field

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, April 5, 2019
Arkansas coach Mark Cook cheers his athletes Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, during the Razorbacks' meet with No. 2 Oklahoma in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas coach Mark Cook cheers his athletes Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, during the Razorbacks' meet with No. 2 Oklahoma in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

The University of Arkansas faces its toughest NCAA regional challenge in years this afternoon in Baton Rouge.

In the first year of a new postseason format, the No. 20 Razorbacks will be the lowest-ranked team in the 2 p.m. quad meet at the Maravich Assembly Center against No. 6 Utah, No. 11 Minnesota and No. 18 BYU.

ARKANSAS GYMNASTICS

at NCAA Baton Rouge Regional

WHEN 2 p.m. Central

WHERE Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge

RECORDS Utah 16-4, Minnesota 21-8, BYU 11-8, Arkansas 8-16

RANKINGS No. 6 Utah 197.535, No. 11 Minnesota 196.885, No 17 BYU 196.57, 20 Arkansas 196.38

COACHES Mark Cook (17th year at Arkansas); Megan Marsden (10th year as co-coach at Utah), Tom Farden (4th year as co-coach at Utah); Guard Young (5th year at BYU); Jenny Hansen (5th year at Minnesota)

TV none

EVENTS Vault: No. 2 Utah 49.465, No. 11 Minnesota 49.205, No. 16 Arkansas 49.12, No. 18 BYU 49.1; Bars: No. 5 Utah 49.43, No. 9 Minnesota 49.36, No. 18 BYU 49.17, No. 29 Arkansas 49.06; Beam: No. 9 Utah 49.305, No. 12 Minnesota 49.265, No. 14 BYU 49.2, No. 15 Arkansas 49.195; Floor: No. 5 Utah 49.48, No. 11 Arkansas 49.305, No. 13 Minnesota 49.3, No. 16 BYU 49.27

TOP ATHLETES (top 100)

All-around: No. 3 MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 39.69, No. 9 Lexy Ramler (Minn) 39.6, No. 11 MaKenna Merrell-Giles (Utah) 39.585, No. 17 Shannon Evans (BYU) 39.46, No. 22 Kari Lee (Utah) 39.4, No. 30 Ona Loper (Minn) 39.355, No. 36 Kennedy Hambrick (Ark) 39.31, No. 46 Jessica Yamzon (Ark) 39.185

ARKANSAS ATHLETES

Vault: No. 43 Amanda Elswick 9.865, No. 48 (tie) Sydney McGlone and Hambrick 9.86, No. 84 Sarah Shaffer 9.835

Bars: No. 80 (tie) Hambrick and Shaffer 9.855

Beam: No. 44 (tie) Michaela Burton and Sophia Carter 9.875, No. 72 Hambrick 9.86, No. 79 Yamzon 9.855,

Floor: No. 10 (tie) Carter 9.935, No. 45 McGlone 9.895, No. 80 Shaffer 9.875

MEET NOTES

Arkansas has a 3-1 head-to-head record against BYU, a 6-1 mark vs. Minnesota and a 1-9 record vs. Utah. … Arkansas sophomore Sophia Carter was named a regular season All-American by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association for finishing the regular season ranked 10th on the floor exercise. … The Razorbacks’ lone victory over Utah came by a 196.95 to 196.625 margin at the NCAA Championships on April 16, 2009, in Lincoln, Neb. … Arkansas’ lone loss to Minnesota came in their last meet on March 9, 2013, in Minneapolis. … Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden is the wife of long-time Utes head coach Greg Marsden, a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas (1972) and Arkansas State University (1973), who led Utah to 10 national titles and retired after the 2015 season with a record of 1048-208-8. … BYU Coach Guard Young is the son of former BYU gymnast and men’s coach Wayne Young.

— Tom Murphy

"We feel like we have one of the most challenging regional sessions of all of them," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "When you have a session like ours, you have all four teams in the top 20. ... It's a challenge, but it's not impossible."

The top two finishers in the quad meet will move on to Saturday's super regional. There they will face the top two teams from tonight's quad meet. Host and No. 3 LSU will be the favorite in the evening session, which also features No. 14 Auburn, No. 21 Arizona State and the winner of Thursday's late dual meet between George Washington and Lindenwood.

The top two teams in the super regional will advance to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, which will consist of eight teams in the same two-session format, meaning the days of 12 teams at the championship and a Super Six final are gone for now.

Cook said he's an advocate of the new system, which eliminates the format of having six teams in six regionals, creating two byes during the one-night regional competition.

"It creates a little more drama with postseason and it creates possibly more upsets, which is good for our sport," Cook said. "It gets rid of the byes."

The Razorbacks have improved over the last month, posting their top three scores of the season, including a 197.0 at the Elevate the Stage competition in Birmingham, Ala. Cook still sees ways the Razorbacks could push well past 197.

"We've left tenths on the table for every meet this season," he said. "Other than the meet we had a 197, we left a couple of tenths on the floor.

"We have been gaining more momentum toward the end of the season. I feel like watching training, we're definitely getting more confident and sharper. It's just a matter of, because we maybe haven't had consistency through the course of the season, how is that going to play out when it's crunch time at regionals?"

Sports on 04/05/2019

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