Arkansas gymnasts seek full meet

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, January 27, 2023
Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber watches Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, during the Razorbacks' meet with Alabama in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
( Andy Shupe)
Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber watches Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, during the Razorbacks' meet with Alabama in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The aim for the Arkansas gymnastics team tonight is to have a full meet, not 75% of one.

The No. 23 Razorbacks will try to recover from a major balance beam breakdown last week when they host No. 8 LSU tonight at 8 in a Stripe the Barn meet at Barnhill Arena.

Arkansas has had three faulty performances each of the past two weeks, on the uneven bars in a winnable home meet against Alabama, then the beam at Auburn last week when the Razorbacks were on course to surpass 197 for the first time this season.

“The focus for this week is just putting four events together and doing normal from start to to finish and not being a three-event team but a four-event team,” fourth-year Arkansas Coach Jordyn Wieber said.

The Razorbacks have lost nine consecutive dual or tri meets against SEC competition. They came out strong on the bars in the opening rotation at Auburn to face down the issues from the previous week, but they’ll have to wait until the third rotation to get back up on the beam against LSU in a meet that will be televised by the SEC Network.

“I’m feeling really good about the direction we’re going and I told the team I do think we’re right on track,” Wieber said. “We’re experiencing some little moments where nerves are getting to us and … to be honest, with the number of young ones we have in the lineup, it doesn’t shock me.”

Senior Bailey Lovett had several technical issues on the beam, then freshman Cally Swaney had to put her hand on the beam for a balance check before senior Kennedy Hambrick came off the apparatus in the final rotation. Sophomore Kalyxta Gamiao led off with a 9.875, then sophomore Cami Weaver produced an event-winning 9.95 after the run of mistakes, and senior Norah Flatley was solid with a 9.9 in the anchor spot.

Wieber said the same approach the Razorbacks took to firming up their bars last week will apply to the balance beam this week.

“As a coach, I was very intentional last week to not go in the gym and say, ‘We’ve got to fix this problem on bars,’ because to be honest we didn’t have a problem on bars,” she said.

“So we just dialed in on the mental toughness and dealing with pressure and not letting one mistake turn into another mistake.”

The Razorbacks will also be looking to break a 25-meet losing streak against LSU since a 197.225-to-196.325 win over the Tigers on Jan. 20, 2012, at Barnhill. All five of Arkansas’ wins in the series and its lone tie came in a stretch of seven meets between 2009-12.

The Razorbacks have gotten some solid individual performances in the young season. Flatley is eighth in the country in the all-around (39.563 average), 16th on the uneven bars (9.9 average), 33rd on the beam (9.867) and vault (9.867) and 37th on the floor exercise (9.887).

Razorback sophomore Cami Weaver is 19th on the balance beam (9.883), and freshman Lauren Williams of Bentonville is 28th on the floor exercise (9.892).

LSU junior Haleigh Bryant, sixth in the nation in the all-around (39.613), is the reigning SEC co-gymnast of the week with Auburn’s Suni Lee after scoring a 10 on the vault en route to a win in the all-around with a 39.75 against Missouri.

Tigers junior Olivia Dunne is cleaning up on the NIL front as a social media influencer with more than 6.9 million followers on TikTok, and she’s become a big draw at road meets.

Like Auburn last week, LSU’s 1-3 record is deceptive, as the Tigers have lost at No. 3 Utah and No. 23 Kentucky and fell to No. 1 Oklahoma at home before downing Missouri last week.


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