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.
Arkansas gymnasts continue with killer opening schedule
Arkansas' Kennedy Hambrick competes in the floor Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, during the Razorbacks' meet with No. 2 Oklahoma in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas will face its toughest task of the brief Jordyn Wieber era today.
The Razorbacks (0-2) take on No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0) at 1:15 p.m. today in Norman, Okla., following a two-day break after their home opener. As the Razorbacks were posting 196.825, a home-opening record, in a loss to No. 3 Denver on Friday, the defending NCAA champion Sooners were smoking Alabama with a 198.25 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the first 198-plus in college gymnastics this year.
Arkansas gymnastics at No. 1 Oklahoma
WHEN 1:15 p.m. Central
WHERE Lloyd Noble Center
RANKINGS Oklahoma is No. 1 (197.513); Arkansas is No. 19 (195.613)
SERIES Oklahoma leads 16-1
COACHES Jordyn Wieber (0-2 in first year at Arkansas); K.J. Kindler (14th year at Oklahoma)
EVENTS Vault: No. 2 Oklahoma 49.392, No. 31 Arkansas 48.763; Bars: No. 1 Oklahoma 49.508, No. 19 Arkansas 48.988; Beam: No. 2 Oklahoma 49.425, No. 33 Arkansas 48.65; Floor: No. 3 Oklahoma 49.433, No. 8 Arkansas 49.213
TOP ATHLETES (top 100)
All-around: No. 3 Maggie Nichols (OU) 39.733, No. 6 Anastasia Webb (OU) 39.533, No. 19 Ragan Smith (OU) 39.275, No. 21 Kiara Gianfagna (UA) 39.25, No. 31 Kennedy Hambrick (UA) 39.125, No. 42 Jessica Yamzon (UA) 39.0
Vault: No. 1 Nichols (OU) 9.942, No. 24 Webb (OU) 9.867, No. 30 (tie) Allie Stern (OU), Jade Degouveia (OU) 9.858, No. 46 Evy Schoepfer (OU) 9.833, No. 65 Sarah Shaffer (9.813)
Bars: No. 3 (tie) Nichols (OU), Smith (OU) 9.942, No. 10 Olivia Troutman (OU) 9.9, No. 13 Degouveia (OU) 9.892, No. 14 Hailey Garner (UA) 9.875, No. 22 Webb (OU) 9.867, No. 32 (tie) Gianfagna (UA), Bailey Lovett (UA), Jordan Draper (OU) 9.85, No. 52 Hambrick (UA) 9.838, No. 82 Sydney Laird (UA) 9.813, No. 91 Karrie Thomas (OU) 9.808,
Beam: No. 11 Nichols (OU) 9.908, No. 18 Webb (OU) 9.892, No. 25 Carly Woodard (OU) 9.875, No. 34 Thomas (OU) 9.867, No. 74 Jenna Dunn (OU) 9.817, No. 81 Gianfagna (UA) 9.813, No. 93 Yamzon (UA) 9.8
Floor: No. 4 Nichols (OU) 9.942, No. 10 Sophia Carter (UA) 9.912, No. 21 Lovett (UA) 9.887, No. 26 Emma LaPinta (OU) 9.875, No. 43 Hambrick (UA) 9.862, No. 45 Draper (OU) 9.858, No. 65 Degouveia (OU) 9.842,
Oklahoma won NCAA titles in 2014, 2016-17 and 2019 under K.J. Kindler. … The Sooners have a 16-1 record against the Razorbacks, including 13 wins in a row. Oklahoma won 198.05 to 195.575 in last year’s season opener Jan. 5, 2019, in Barnhill Arena. … Arkansas’ lone win in the series was a 196.9 to 195.625 decision in a dual meet at Norman, Okla., on Jan. 26, 2009.
The first three meets for the Razorbacks under Wieber will have come against teams ranked in the top three.
Wieber, a former Olympic gold medalist for Team USA, said a quick turnaround is a needed test for the Razorbacks.
"It's really the best thing for our team to figure out how to compete days in a row," Wieber said. "Because that's what postseason is like. Figuring out how to recover quickly and compete again at the same level is going to be really important for our team."
The Razorbacks bounced back from a rough 194.4 season debut at No. 2 Florida with a much stronger showing before a school-record crowd of 6,714 at Barnhill Arena on Friday.
Four gymnasts posted 9.9s or better, first on Sydney Laird's 9.9 on the uneven bars, then the finishing trio of Kennedy Hambrick, Bailey Lovett and Sophia Carter on the floor exercise, which has emerged as a strength early under Wieber. Carter, the nation's No. 10 ranked floor worker, and Lovett both posted 9.95s.
"It was amazing," Hambrick said of the raucous atmosphere at Barnhill. "Feeling everyone cheer for you and knowing they want you to do good is just an amazing feeling."
That will not be the case today against the Sooners, who rank in the top three on every apparatus, including No. 1 on the uneven bars under 14th-year Coach K.J. Kindler. Oklahoma has won or shared four of the last six NCAA championships.
Sooners senior Maggie Nichols posted a 39.825 in the all around at Alabama, sparked by a 10 on the vault. Nichols, the nation's No. 3 all-around gymnast, is the first to surpass 39.8 this season.
Sports on 01/20/2020
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