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.
Wieber set to make UA gymnastics home debut
Arkansas gymnastics coach Jordyn Wieber speaks Thursday, April 25, 2019, during a ceremony in the Bev Lewis Center for Women's Athletics on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- By Monday, the University of Arkansas gymnastics team will have competed against the top three teams in the nation, all in its first 11 days of the season.
But before the Razorbacks can get to No. 1 Oklahoma on Monday in Norman, Okla., they host No. 3 Denver at 7 tonight at Barnhill Arena in the home debut of first-year coach Jordyn Wieber, the former Olympic gold medalist on the Fierce Five USA team.
At a glance
Arkansas gymnastics vs. Denver
WHEN 7 p.m. today
WHERE Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville
RECORDS No. 3 Denver 4-0; Arkansas 0-1
SERIES Denver leads 7-3
COACHES Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart (405-184-4 in 22nd year at Denver); Jordyn Wieber (0-1 in first year at Arkansas)
EVENTS Vault: No. 19 Denver 48.95, No. 42 Arkansas 48.525; Bars: No. 5 Denver 49.288, No. 28 Arkansas 48.625; Beam: No. 3 Denver 49.338, No. 45 Arkansas 48.25; Floor: No. 10 Denver 49.15, No. 16 Arkansas 49.0
TOP ATHLETES (top 100)
All-around No. 4 Maddie Karr (Den) 39.587, No. 6 Lynnzee Brown (Den) 39.563, No. 36 Alexandria Ruiz (Den) 39.025, No. 39 Kennedy Hambrick (UA) 38.95, No. 50 (tie) Jessica Yamzon (UA) 38.825,
Vault No. 13 Karr (Den) 9.887, No. 26 Brown (Den) 9.85.
Bars No. 6 Karr (Den) 9.925, No. 9 Brown (Den) 9.9, No. 48 Emily Glynn (Den) 9.838, No. 58 (tie) Hambrick (UA), Bailey Lovett (UA), AK Subject (Den) 9.825.
Beam No. 1 Alexis Vasques (Den) 9.988, No. 14 Karr (Den) 9.9, No. 25 Brown (Den) 9.875, No. 88 (tie) Kiara Gianfagna (UA), Ruiz (Den) 9.8.
Floor No. 4 Brown (Den) 9.938, No. 26 (tie) Sophia Carter (UA), Karr (Den) 9.875, No. 69 Amoree Lockhart (Den) 9.838, No. 76 (tie) Hambrick (UA), Lovett (UA) 9.825,
Denver won last year’s competition 196.35 to 195.825 by finishing second in the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth behind No. 1 Oklahoma, while the Razorbacks placed fourth. … In their last meeting at Barnhill Arena, Arkansas downed Denver 197.3-196.725 on March 16, 2018. … All tickets for the inaugural home meet of Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber are $2. … The first 1,500 fans will receive an Arkansas gymnastics car decal. … The Razorbacks will conduct a post-meet autograph session.
Wieber made her head coaching debut in the Razorbacks loss at current No. 2 Florida last week.
"I'm so excited to be in Barnhill for the first time and to see our fans show up and get engaged in the whole event," Wieber told reporters Thursday.
"Florida was a good start for us. It wasn't perfect by any means. ... I was so impressed the way they did not get shaken by an away crowd. That was a new experience for me, coming from the Pac-12."
The Razorbacks did not have to count a fall in their opener, but they did have to absorb major deductions that led to a 194.4. That is the 32nd best scoring average in the country heading into Week 3.
Regular Arkansas fans will note the configuration of the competition surface at Barnhill Arena will be different from previous years.
"The reason we changed the layout was so we can give fans, hopefully, a better view, a better experience," Wieber said. "We moved the floor [exercise] a little closer to the student section. We actually shifted some of the girls' choreography to be engaging the student section."
The uneven bars will now be oriented so most of the crowd can have side views of handstands, and the balance beam is closer to the crowd now as well, Wieber said.
The Razorbacks are led by junior Sophia Carter, a second-team All-American last year, whose 9.875 in the anchor position on the floor exercise was the team high last week.
Sophomore Kennedy Hambrick and senior Jessica Yamzon are expected to compete in the all-around again for the Razorbacks.
Wieber said veterans Sarah Shaffer, who was limited to one event last week, Hailey Garner (concussion) and Amanda Elswick (shin) are all healthier this week.
Denver (4-0) has already taken down Auburn, Big Ten teams Penn State and Minnesota and Arizona State from the Pac-12 during the first two weeks, and averages a robust 196.725.
The Pioneers are led by all-around performers Maddie Karr and Lynnzee Brown and beam specialist Alexis Vasquez, a sophomore who scored a 10 on the beam in the season opener at the Collegiate Challenge. The senior Karr ranks fourth nationally with a 39.587 average, while the junior Brown is sixth at 39.563.
Denver, coached by Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart, owns a 7-3 edge in its series against Arkansas.
Sports on 01/17/2020
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