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.
Razorbacks fall to Georgia on Senior Night
Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber is shown during a meet against Ohio State on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas gymnastics team’s senior night celebration was doomed after the second rotation Friday.
Seniors Kennedy Hambrick, Sarah Shaffer and Maggie O’Hara came off the uneven bars in succession to leave the Razorbacks a full point behind at the halfway point in the meet. Georgia closed out the competition with a big showing on the balance beam to post a 196.975 to 196.1 win before a crowd of 4,907 at Barnhill Arena.
In a battle of the SEC’s only winless teams, Georgia (3-6, 1-5) stayed steadier throughout to log its season-high score and its first road win of the year to improve to 37-6-1 against the Razorbacks (2-6, 0-6).
Arkansas will have a final shot at winning a conference meet next week at No. 7 Alabama.
Arkansas got out of the gates with several stuck landings on their vault and led after the first rotation.
“I thought they started great on vault,” Arkansas Coach Jordyn Wieber said. “We were just on fire with some of those great landings over there.
“Obviously another inconsistent performance on bars. I was really happy with the first three routines, then the back half of the lineup, I think it got a little bit in their heads and, I don’t know, tried to be a little too perfect for senior night.”
The Razorbacks won three of the four rotations but could not make up for counting two falls on the troublesome bars en route to a season-low 48.15 on the event.
Arkansas bounced back on the balance beam with a 49.325, but the Bulldogs hardly gave an inch, making up for Hayley De Jong’s fall on the floor exercise with five strong routines. Georgia led by 0.925 after three rotations.
Senior Amanda Elswick led the Razorbacks with a 9.9 on the vault to tie Georgia’s Megan Roberts for the event title, and a 9.9 on the balance beam.
Elswick finished in a four-way tie for the beam title along with teammates Bailey Lovett and Leah Smith and Georgia’s Mikayla Magee. Smith’s 9.9 on the beam was a season high for the freshman.
Georgia’s Katie Finnegan won the bars competition, with teammate Victoria Nguyen in a second-place tie with Razorback freshman Maddie Jones at 9.85.
Hambrick bounced back from her fall from the high bar to win the floor exercise with a 9.925, tying Georgia’s Rachel Baumann.
Arkansas held a tenth of a point lead after the opening rotation with a 49.25 on the vault as the Bulldogs were scoring 49.15 on the bars.
However, after Smith, Jensen Scalzo and Jones posted solid scores on the bars, the seniors could not stay on the apparatus, though each re-started their routine and performed them with hardly a flaw the second time through.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.