Tom Murphy is a sports 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. He was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Razorbacks have record showing at Barnhill
Arkansas gymnast Kennedy Hambrick competes during an NCAA gymnastics meet against LSU on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas put on a bounce-back performance at Barnhill Arena on Friday, acing the balance beam and floor exercise to put a bow on a school-record 197.35 to subdue No. 25 Missouri.
The No. 5 Razorbacks (2-4), who gave away a potential win and a 197.0 road score at Kentucky last week with a subpar beam bobble, nailed it against the Tigers (1-5) with a 49.4. They followed that with a program-record 49.575 on the floor exercise with every counting score at 9.875 or better.
Missouri (1-5) led at the halfway point and finished with a season-best 196.85, but the Tigers could not keep pace with the Razorbacks’ sizzling second half.
Junior Kennedy Hambrick paved the way with a massive showing that led to a school-record 39.75 and a win in the all-around.
Hambrick won or tied for every event title, including 9.95s on both the balance beam and floor exercise, and a 9.975 on the vault after which the SEC Network announcers were wondering if a perfect 10 was in order.
Hambrick won the balance beam and vault outright, shared the floor title with sophomore teammate Bailey Lovett (9.95) and tied Missouri’s Amaya Marshall for the uneven bars title at 9.875.
Sophia Carter rebounded from a tough meet at Kentucky by scoring 9.9 on the balance beam and a 9.85 on the floor.
Arkansas was on fire in the final rotation, with senior Abby Johnston leading off with a 9.875, followed by sophomore Madison Hickey’s career-high 9.9. Sarah Shaffer (9.9) and Lovett had near-perfect tumbling runs, and Hambrick clinched the meet with her huge routine that featured big tumbling runs.
In rotation one, both teams scored season highs, with Arkansas posting a 49.35 on the vault and Missouri scoring 49.2 on the bars.
Arkansas had a couple of issues on the uneven bars in rotation two, having to count Gillian Rutz’s 9.6 after Kiara Gianfagna’s fall and scoring 49.025.
Missouri took the lead at the halfway point, 98.45 to 98.375, by notching another season high of 49.25 on the vault.
The Razorbacks took command by regaining its balance beam form and cruised to the victory from there.
Missouri’s Sienna Schreiber (39.5) and Marshall (39.25) placed second and third in the all-around, and Arkansas’ Shaffer — who had a break on her beam routine with a 9.55 that did not count toward the team score — was fourth at 39.125.
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