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.
Gym'Backs fail to qualify in Oklahoma
Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber is shown during a meet against Ohio State on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Fayetteville.
The No. 18 Arkansas gymnastics team was in contention at the halfway point, but had to count a couple of sub-par scores on the vault and failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships on Saturday at the NCAA Norman (Okla.) Regional finals.
The University of Arkansas scored a 196.675, lower by 0.3 than its score in Thursday’s semifinal, and placed fourth behind No. 1 Oklahoma, which powered to a 198.25 to claim the regional championship.
No. 8 Minnesota came in second at 197.725, followed by No. 9 California (197.3) and the Razorbacks, who only put up five gymnasts on the vault.
Oklahoma and Minnesota advanced to the NCAA Championships in two weeks at Fort Worth along with the top two finishers from five other regionals.
The Razorbacks’ top athletes were seniors Maggie O’Hara, Bailey Lovett and Kennedy Hambrick.
O’Hara tied for second on the uneven bars with a 9.9 behind event winner Danielle Sievers of Oklahoma, who scored 9.925. Lovett scored a 9.925 in the anchor position on the floor exercise to tie for fifth behind Minnesota’s Mya Hooten (9.975) and a trio of gymnasts at 9.95.
Hambrick, who posted 39.575 to win the all-around competition in session II on Thursday, had a strong meet going with a 9.9 on the balance beam, a 9.875 on the floor and a 9.875 on the vault before a fall on the bars (9.225). She finished with a 38.875 to finish fifth in the all-around behind Minnesota’s Ona Loper (39.7).
Arkansas freshman Leah Smith, who injured an ankle on the floor exercise Thursday, competed only on the final event, scoring a 9.8 on the uneven bars.
The other event winners were Oklahoma’s Olivia Trautman on the vault (9.975) and Oklahoma’s Ragan Smith on the floor (9.975).
The Razorbacks, an eight-time competitor at the NCAA Championships with a top finish of fifth in 2009, last qualified in 2018. They have competed in regional finals each of the past two seasons under third-year Coach Jordyn Wieber.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.