Tom Murphy is a sports 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. He was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Plenty on line for Gym'Backs at SEC meet
Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber watches Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, during the Razorbacks' meet with Alabama in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Eight of the nation’s top 18 women’s college gymnastics programs will get together today in Duluth, Ga., to compete for the SEC championship and NCAA Tournament seeding.
No. 16 University of Arkansas, competing in the afternoon session at 2:30 p.m. at Gas South Arena, will aim for its highest finish at the conference meet and to hang on to their tenuous national seeding.
Fourth-year Coach Jordyn Wieber’s Razorbacks (4-8, 2-5 SEC) have endured through a strange season with the high of four scores of 197 or better, and the lows of multiple meets with one-event disasters. However, a strong performance today, at the same venue where the Razorbacks defeated Georgia 197.15 to 196.875 two weeks ago due to issues with the GymDogs’ Stegeman Coliseum, should secure a key top 16 national seed for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas has finished in the top four at the SECs only once, a fourth-place finish in 2011. The Razorbacks finished sixth in last year’s meet.
The Razorbacks will open the session on the uneven bars, then advance to the balance beam, floor exercise and finish on the vault.
Arkansas, which has a national qualifying score of 197.05, the second-highest in school history entering the postseason, will take on No. 12 Auburn (197.48), No. 17 Missouri (197.04), and No. 18 Georgia (196.955) in Session I. The night session at 7 will feature No. 3 Florida (198.015), No. 6 LSU (197.78), No. 8 Kentucky (197.63) and No. 10 Alabama (197.56).
Both sessions will air live on the SEC Network.
The Razorbacks have split up their routines probably more than any team in the country, with transfer senior Norah Flatley the only athlete who has participated in the all-around this season.
Flatley is ranked 33rd in the country on the balance beam and 35th on the uneven parallel bars.
Wieber has deployed a lineup dotted with underclassmen in virtually every event. The group is led by freshman Lauren Williams of Rogers, who is 31st in the country on the floor exercise and 61st on the vault.
The Razorbacks’ top event score is the floor exercise, where they rank 17th in the country with a 49.385 NQS. They are also 17th on the bars (49.34), 16th on the vault (49.27) and 16th on the beam (49.25).
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