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.
Uneven performance on bars dooms UA
Arkansas gymnast Jessica Yamzon competes against Alabama during an NCAA Gymnastics meet, Feb. 8, 2019 in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE -- The pesky uneven bars bit the University of Arkansas gymnastics team again Friday.
The No. 21 Razorbacks posted a season-high score, but they were forced to count a major error on the bars while falling 197.125 to 196.375 to No. 5 LSU before a crowd of 4,415 at Barnhill Arena.
"Our goal was to hit a clean meet and we didn't do that," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "Without counting a fall on bars, we would have been semi-clean, but we still made other mistakes."
Arkansas (1-9, 0-6 SEC) will have to upset Florida next weekend to avoid its first winless SEC season since the program debuted in 2003.
The Tigers, competing for the third time in eight days, won their 16th consecutive meet against the Razorbacks and improved to 34-5-1 in the series.
"My team competed a little bit tired, but we kept pushing through," LSU Coach D-D Breaux said. "Any adversity we had we kept pushing through.
"We never felt like we were at a deficit. We felt like we were moving forward in the meet. Any time you beat an SEC opponent, that's a big victory."
The Razorbacks had strong scores in the second half of the meet, including sophmore Sophia Carter's 9.95 on the floor exercise to tie for the event title, but they could not overcome a huge deficit after two rotations.
LSU's Sarah Finnegan took the all-around title with a 39.375, which included an uncharacteristic big wobble on the balance beam. Her teammate Kennedi Edney placed second in the all-around (39.275), while Arkansas' Jessica Yamzon was third (39.175).
LSU inched to a lead of 0.05 after one rotation. Finnegan planted her dismount in the anchor spot to win the uneven bars with a 9.925 and wipe a 9.675 off the board.
Arkansas' Sarah Shaffer posted a 9.875 on the bars to tie LSU's Edney for second in the event.
The Razorbacks lost any chance of the upset by posting a 48.625 on the bars while the Tigers were smoking with a 49.3 on the vault. Arkansas freshman Kennedy Hambrick over-rotated and had to make a major correction, leading to a 9.45. The Razorbacks had to count that score when Sydney Laird came off the apparatus.
"That event has got to hit," Cook said. "That's unacceptable."
Hambrick and Edney tied for the vault title with 9.9s, while Razorbacks freshman Amanda Elswick tied for third at 9.875 with LSU's Sarah Edwards.
The Razorbacks tied LSU at 49.225 on the third rotation, going strong on the beam by counting nothing less than a 9.8.
Carter led Arkansas with a 9.9, while Elswick and Hambrick each posted 9.85, Katarina Derrick added a 9.825 and Yamzon a 9.8.
Sports on 02/23/2019
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