Arkansas gymnasts finish last at SEC meet

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, March 21, 2021
Arkansas' Sarah Shaffer competes during the SEC Gymnastics Championships on Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Huntsville, Ala. (Photo via SEC Pool)
Arkansas' Sarah Shaffer competes during the SEC Gymnastics Championships on Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Huntsville, Ala. (Photo via SEC Pool)

The No. 9 University of Arkansas had an off night on the balance beam then finished with a rugged performance on the uneven bars to cap the night session of the SEC Championships on Saturday.

Competing in the night session at the championships for the first time since the conference expanded in 2013, the Razorbacks could not compete with the the top three teams in the SEC at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Arkansas scored a season-low 195.6 to finish last in the seven-team meet. No. 8 Alabama posted a season-best 197.875 to win its 10th SEC title and its first since 2015.

The Crimson Tide held off No. 4 LSU (197.775) and No. 1 Florida (196.975), which had major issues on the uneven bars in the second rotation.

In session I on Saturday afternoon, No. 14 Kentucky led the way with a 196.825, followed by No. 15 Auburn (196.275) and No. 23 Missouri (196.126). No. 16 Georgia, which suffered some covid-19 issues earlier in the week, did not attend the championships.

Arkansas junior Kennedy Hambrick, the nation’s No. 7 all-arounder, had a fall on the beam and also struggled on the bars and finished with a 38.325 for 16th place, one spot behind teammate Sarah Shaffer (39.05).

Alabama’s Luisia Blanco capped a huge performance with a 9.95 on the balance beam to give her 9.95s across the board and a 39.8 to win the all-around. LSU’s Kiya Johnson scored a 10 on the floor exercise in rotation 3, the fifth of her career, and was second in the all-around (39.625), followed by Alabama’s Lexi Graber (39.575).

The Razorbacks managed only a pair of 9.9s or higher on the night, with Sophia Carter’s 9.95 tying for second on the floor behind Johnson, and Bailey Lovett posting 9.9 on the floor.

Carter, competing on three events, had a solid night, scoring 9.85 on the beam and 9.725 on the bars.

Alabama led by .35 after two rotations and was on pace for a 198 following a season-high 49.55 on the vault.

The Razorbacks will compete in the NCAA Regionals in two weeks.

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