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.
No. 3 Denver nips Arkansas gymnastics team
Arkansas gymnast Jessica Yamzon competes against Alabama during an NCAA Gymnastics meet, Feb. 8, 2019 in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas gymnastics team could not snap its dual match losing streak against top 10 competition Friday.
But the all-time record crowd of 6,714 who came to Barnhill Arena on a rainy night got a glimpse of the Razorbacks' potential under first-year Coach Jordyn Wieber.
No. 3 Denver 197.225
No. 32 Arkansas 196.825
Bars (49.425): Alexandria Ruiz 9.8, Mia Sundstrom 9.825, AK Subject 9.875, Lynnzee Brown 9.9, Emily Glynn 9.9, Maddie Karr 9.925.
Vault (49.25): Subject 9.75, Ruiz 9.75, Glynn 9.75, Sundstrom 9.9, Brown 9.925, Karr 9.925
Floor Exercise (49.1): Ruiz 9.8, Emma Brown 9.7, Glynn 9.6, Amoree Lockhart 9.775, Karr 9.9, L. Brown 9.925
Balance Beam (49.35): L. Brown 9.9, E. Brown 9.85, Ruiz 9.8, Lockhart 9.825, Karr 9.925, Vasquez 9.925
Vault (49.05): Jessica Yamzon 9.775, Kiara Gianfagna 9.8, Madison Hickey 9.775, Claire Rogers 9.125, Sarah Shaffer 9.875, Kennedy Hambrick 9.825
Bars (49.35): Yamzon 9.8, Gianfagna 9.85, Hailey Garner 9.875, Bailey Lovett 9.875, Hambrick 9.85, Sydney Laird 9.9
Balance Beam (49.05): Yamzon 9.825, Gianfagna 9.825, Lovett 9.85, Hambrick 9.725, Shaffer 8.875, Carter 9.825
Floor Exercise (49.425): Yamzon 9.8, Gianfagna 9.825, Hickey 9.725, Hambrick 9.9, Lovett 9.95, Carter 9.95
No. 3 Denver (5-0) grabbed an early lead and finished strong on the balance beam for a 197.25 to 196.825 win over the Razorbacks (0-2) in front of the festive crowd.
Arkansas improved its score by more than 2.4 points over its season opener at Florida while posting its highest home-opening score in program history.
"We got a little sharper and just trusted our confidence a little bit more, which is what I wanted to see," Wieber said. "This is what we've been doing in the gym, with the exception of some weird things on beam. I was just happy to see them translate it here into competition."
The Razorbacks dropped their 13th consecutive dual meet against a top 10 opponent since knocking off No. 9 Alabama on Jan. 27, 2017.
The Razorbacks' finished big, with freshman Bailey Lovett and junior Sophia Carter posting event-winning 9.95s on the floor exercise to cap the meet with the student section chanting "10! 10! 10!" after both routines. Helped by sophomore Kennedy Hambrick's 9.9 on the floor, Arkansas posted a season-high 49.425 event score.
"We are working so hard in the gym, and we're getting better every single day, every single meet," Hambrick said. "We believe that we can put up huge scores no matter what condition we're in."
Denver capped its performance on the balance beam with a 49.45, the top event score of the evening, to close out the victory.
Denver senior Maddie Karr, the nation's No. 4 all-around gymnast, won the uneven bars (9.925) and balance beam (9.925), and tied teammate Lynnzee Brown on the vault (9.925) en route to the all-around title with a 39.675, just ahead of Brown's 39.65.
The Razorbacks placed third through fifth in the all-around: Hambrick (39.3), Kiara Gianfagna (39.25) and Jessica Yamzon (39.2), who tied Denver's Alexandria Ruiz.
The Pioneers took a lead of nearly fourth-tenths of a point after one rotation by not counting anything less than a 9.825 on the uneven bars. Brown and Emily Glynn each posted 9.9 behind Karr's winning score.
Arkansas gained a tenth back on rotation two with a 49.35 on the bars. Sydney Laird led the way with a 9.9 in the anchor spot, while Hailey Garner and Bailey Lovett both posted 9.875.
Former Arkansas coach Mark Cook sat next to ex-UCLA coach Valerie Kondos-Field, a mentor to Wieber, and her husband Bobby Field, the former Arkansas defensive back and longtime UCLA administrator.
Wieber gave a shout-out to Cook and the fans after the meet.
"None of this would be possible without him," she said. "He started this program and made it into what it is now. I really appreciate him coming out tonight.
"The crowd was amazing. The student section kept the energy so high. We really wanted to give them an experience where they would want to come back. I can't thank the fans enough for all their energy and positivity."
Arkansas football Coach Sam Pittman and his wife Jamie were introduced at the halfway point of the meet to a rousing ovation.
Sports on 01/18/2020
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