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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Floor routine lifts Tide over Razorbacks
Alabama gymnast Shea Mahoney competes against Arkansas during an NCAA Gymnastics meet, Feb. 8, 2019 in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE -- No. 8 Alabama broke away from a tight meet with a big floor exercise routine, then held off No. 22 Arkansas in the final rotation for a victory in the Razorbacks' annual Flip For A Cure meet on Friday.
The Crimson Tide out-performed Arkansas 196.7 to 195.8 before a crowd of 3,224 at Barnhill Arena to snap a two-meet losing streak to the Razorbacks on the road.
"You never take a road win in the SEC for granted," Alabama Coach Dana Duckworth said. "You have to show up every single week. That's what makes our conference so exciting."
Arkansas (1-7, 0-4 SEC) could not muster explosive scoring from multiple athletes during the first three rotations and could not follow up its first 196 of the season last week with a muscular home score.
"We had some really good routines and we had some mistakes," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "We can't make mistakes. We had an opportunity to beat these guys tonight had we not counted some mistakes. That's part of the learning process."
The Razorbacks competed without sophomore all-arounder Sarah Shaffer, who is expected back next week after suffering a mild concussion at Georgia on Feb. 1.
Alabama (8-2, 3-1 SEC), which won each rotation, improved to 3-0 in road meets this season and 36-5-1 all-time against Arkansas.
"Our performance is getting better every single week," Duckworth said. "Maybe the score is not reflecting performance in certain areas, but I like the steps that we're taking and the depth that we're building, the fight that we're showing."
Arkansas' efforts were highlighted by sophomore Sophia Carter, senior Sydney McGlone and freshman Kennedy Hambrick.
Carter tied Alabama's Shea Mahoney for the floor exercise title with a dynamic 9.9 in her signature event. McGlone placed second on the vault with a 9.9 and third on the floor exercise at 9.875.
Hambrick tied Alabama's Lexi Graber in the all-around with a 39.375 to share her first title in that event.
"Kennedy's been on fire this year," Cook said. "She's doing her job. Some of the other girls are too. But we're having a missed routine here and there and we can't afford to do that.
"We counted some errors on bars and we counted some errors on balance beam. We had some little errors on floor too. Our potential is high, but we're not performing it well."
Alabama seized a lead of 0.175 points after the first rotation as Emily Gaskins stuck her dismount to win the bars with a 9.925 and teammates Kylie Dickson and Mahoney notched 9.875s to power the Tide to a 49.225. Arkansas opened with a 49.05 on the vault, led by McGlone's 9.9 and a 9.875 from Hambrick as the pair finished second and third on the apparatus.
Graber won the vault with a 9.95 on the next rotation as Alabama increased its lead to 98.375 to 98.025.
The Razorbacks' 48.975 on the bar was led by Hambrick's 9.9, which was good for second place.
The Crimson Tide put the meet away with a robust 49.225 on the floor, with no score lower than 9.825. At the same time, the Razorbacks were struggling to a 48.75 on the balance beam.
The Razorbacks return to action next week at No. 12 Auburn.
No. 8 Alabama 196.7, No. 22 Arkansas 195.8
UNEVEN BARS 49.225 Jensie Givens 9.75, Ariana Guerra 9.8, Lexi Graber 9.725, Shea Mahoney 9.875, Kylie Dickson 9.875, Emily Gaskins 9.925 VAULT 49.150 Abby Armbrecht 9.8, Mahoney 9.7, Gaskins 9.75, Graber 9.95, Olsen 9.95, Guerra 9.775
FLOOR EXERCISE 49.225 Maddie Desch 9.825, Mahoney 9.9, Armbrecht 9.85, Graber 9.8, Guerra 9.825, Olsen 9.825
BALANCE BEAM 49.100 Along Klopfer 9.825, Desch 9.75, Wynter Childers 9.75, Armbrecht 9.875, Gaskins 9.55, Graber 9.9
VAULT 49.050 Jessica Yamzon 9.75, Savannah Pennese 9.725, Michaela Burton 9.625, Kennedy Hambrick 9.875, Sydney McGlone 9.9, Amanda Elswick 9.8
UNEVEN BARS 48.975 Yamzon 9.775, Sophia Carter 9.825, Sydney Laird 9.625, Hambrick 9.9, Hailey Garner 9.05, Burton 9.85
BALANCE BEAM 48.750 Yamzon 9.875, Ham-brick 9.875, Elswick 9.675, Carter 9.325, Katrina Derrick 9.525, Burton 9.85
FLOOR EXERCISE 49.025 Yamzon 9.775, Pennese 9.75, Burton 9.525, Hambrick 9.725, Mc-Glone 9.875, Carter 9.9
ALL-AROUND TOP FINISHERS
1.(tie) Kennedy Hambrick (Arkansas) and Lexi Graber (Alabama) 39.375, 3. Jessica Yamzon (Arkansas) 39.175, 4. Michaela Burton (Arkansas) 38.85
Sports on 02/09/2019
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