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.
Hambrick, Shaffer begin at NCAAs
Arkansas gymnast Kennedy Hambrick competes against Auburn during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas seniors Kennedy Hambrick and Sarah Shaffer will get one last crack at some national crowns today at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.
While the No. 18 Razorbacks did not qualify as a team for nationals, Hambrick advanced as an all-around competitor and Shaffer moved ahead on the uneven bars with their work at the NCAA Norman (Okla.) Regional two weeks ago.
Hambrick, of Pearland, Texas, will rotate with Utah in today’s noon session at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. Shaffer, of Tyler, Texas, will join Alabama on the bars in the first rotation of the afternoon session.
“This is a wonderful achievement for Sarah, in the final stages of her 6th year of college gymnastics and after many injuries, to be able to shine on the big stage,” Arkansas Coach Jordyn Wieber said in a statement. “I am equally as proud of Kennedy, who has qualified in back-to-back years as an all-arounder, proving that she is undoubtedly one of the best.”
Individual and all-around championships will be awarded after the evening session, which is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Hambrick, who has an extra year of eligibility remaining if she chooses to use it, finished seventh at the NCAAs last year with a 39.6125 in the all-around. Shaffer, who is completing her sixth and final year of eligibility, competed with the Arkansas team in the 2018 NCAA Championships, the last appearance by the Razorbacks in the finals.
No. 3 Michigan is back to defend its NCAA title and will take on No. 2 Florida, No. 7 Auburn and No. 11 Missouri in the 5 p.m. semifinal. The noon session will pit No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Utah, No. 5 Alabama and No. 8 Minnesota. The top two teams from each semifinal will meet for the NCAA championship on Saturday at noon.
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