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.
Sooners in fine form vs. Razorbacks
Arkansas' Sophia Carter competes in the floor Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, during the Razorbacks' meet with No. 2 Oklahoma in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the meet.
FAYETTEVILLE -- No. 2 Oklahoma showed it is ready for another run at the NCAA gymnastics championship with a blockbuster performance Saturday, while No. 12 Arkansas showed it has work to do to return to the championships.
The Sooners roared out of the gate, led by a 10.0 from Maggie Nichols on the vault, and beat the Razorbacks 198.05 to 195.575 in the season opener for both teams before a crowd of 2,676 at Barnhill Arena on Saturday night.
Oklahoma Coach K.J. Kindler said she thought the Sooners posted the first 198-plus in a season opener in NCAA history, though that statistic was not immediately available.
"I'm speechless. Really speechless," Kindler said. "I would not have expected them to come through in this fashion."
The highlight for the Razorbacks was a 49.175 on the floor exercise in the closing rotation, sparked by sophomore Sophia Carter's 9.95 in the anchor spot. Carter tied Oklahoma's Olivia Trautman for the event title.
The University of Arkansas scored less than 49.0 on all other events.
"We pretty much did exactly how we expected," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "We still have a lot of little errors, but we didn't count any falls. We don't have our full difficulty in yet either, so this is a starting point. We knew we were going to start off slower this year.
"OU is a phenomenal program. They're established. They could win the national championship this year. It was a good measuring stick for us."
Oklahoma improved its lead to 15-1 in the series, including 6-0 at Barnhill Arena. Arkansas will be on the road for the next month before returning home against Alabama on Feb. 8.
The Sooners flexed their depth from the first rotation with a big performance on the uneven bars and never looked back. The top six Sooners outscored all the Arkansas athletes on the bars and the vault, and Oklahoma led by more than 1.5 points -- 99.1 to 97.425 -- after two events.
The Sooners posted a 49.625 on the vault, counting nothing lower than 9.875. Nichols won it with her 16th career 10, her fifth on the vault, while Jade Degouveia scored 9.5, and Brenna Dowell and Nicole Lehrmann both scored 9.9.
"I thought vault was the key to our night," Kindler said. "We had upgraded a lot of our vaults, and they hit vaults like I have never seen. It got everybody fired up."
Lehrmann won the uneven bars with a 9.95, and she was joined on the podium by teammates Dowell and Nichols with 9.9s.
Nichols, who has scored 10.0 on all four apparatuses in her career, also won the beam with a 9.975 in the anchor position.
The Sooners are used to posting 198s, but not so early in a season.
"I don't believe any team in the history of the NCAA has ever done if in the first meet of the year, ever," Kindler said. "Never out of the gate. This is a record for an opener."
Oklahoma (1-0) 198.05
Bars (49.475): Brehana Showers 9.825, Alex Marks 9.85, Anastasia Webb 9.875, Brenna Dowell 9.9, Nicole Lehrmann 9.95, Maggie Nichols 9.9
Vault (49.625): Showers 9.875, Lehrmann 9.9, Olivia Trautman 9.85, Jade Degouveia 9.95, Nichols 10.0, Dowell 9.9
Floor (49.375): Showers 9.175, Degouveia 9.825, Dowell 9.875, Webb 9.85, Nichols 9.875, Trautman 9.95
Beam (49.575): Trautman 9.9, Lehrmann 9.9, Carly Woodard 9.875, Dowell 9.875, Webb 9.925, Nichols 9.975
Arkansas (0-1) 195.575
Vault (48.825): Jessica Yamzon 9.725, Sarah Shaffer 9.75, Michaela Burton 9.7, Savannah Pennese 9.675, Kennedy Hambrick 9.825, Sydney McGlone 9.825
Bars (48.6): Yamzon 9.775, Sophia Carter 9.6, Sydney Laird 9.675, Hailey Garner 9.775, Shaffer 9.775, Burton 8.2
Beam (48.975): Yamzon 9.875, Kailey Gillings 9.575, Garner 9.775, Carter 9.725, Shaffer 9.725, Burton 9.875
Floor (49.175): Yamzon 9.775, Hambrick 9.8, Burton 9.75, McGlone 9.675, Shaffer 9.9, Carter 9.95
All-Around: 1. Nichols, OU 39.75, 2. Dowell, OU 39.55, t3. Shaffer, Ark 39.15, t3. Yamzon, Ark 39.15, 5. Burton, Ark 37.525
Sports on 01/06/2019
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