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.
UA gymnastics season over after third-place regional finish
Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber watches Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, during the Razorbacks' meet with Alabama in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
The No. 17 University of Arkansas gymnastics team broke the school’s scoring record for an NCAA regional, but failed to advance to the finals at the NCAA Norman (Okla.) Regional on Thursday night.
Defending NCAA champion and No. 1 Oklahoma, the regional host, advanced easily with a 197.925. But the battle for second place in the regional semifinal between Arkansas and No. 16 Ohio State came down to the final routine of the night for the Buckeyes at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Arkansas posted a 197.275 and held a slender lead of .025 going into that last routine, where Ohio State’s Ella Hodges scored 9.8 on the balance beam to strike off a teammate’s 9.7 and push the Buckeyes to a team score of 197.35, less than a tenth of a point ahead of the Razorbacks.
Oklahoma and Ohio State advanced into Saturday’s 4:45 p.m. regional final, where the top two teams will move on to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth.
The Razorbacks were third and No. 30 North Carolina State was a distant fourth at 195.375.
Arkansas turned in a sterling performance in rotation No. 3 on the floor exercise with a 49.5, a program record for an NCAA regional and tied for the seventh-highest score in school history.
Sophomore Frankie Price hit it big in the anchor position with a 9.95 to tie Ohio State’s Elexis Edwards for the event title. The Razorbacks also got 9.9s from freshman Lauren Williams of Rogers and sophomore Maddie Jones on the floor, which allowed Arkansas to be within striking distance of Oklahoma and Ohio State heading into the final rotation.
Arkansas senior Norah Flatley also came up clutch, scoring a 9.95 in the anchor spot on the balance beam in the second rotation to wipe out a 9.05. Flatley finished second in the all-around to Ohio State’s Payton Harris (39.6), whose 9.9 on the beam helped steady the Buckeyes.
The Razorbacks could have advanced with a stronger final rotation on the vault, where they scored 49.225 and Williams notched the only 9.9 for the team.
Arkansas, under fourth-year Coach Jordyn Wieber, surpassed its previous school record for an NCAA regional of 197.25, posted in 2021 at the NCAA Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Regional.
In the afternoon session, SEC teams Kentucky and Alabama dominated Big Ten opponents Iowa and Illinois to move on to the finals. The No. 9 Wildcats won the session with a 197.475, sparked by senior Raena Worley’s 39.625 to claim the 20th all-around title of her career. Worley also won the floor exercise with a 9.95.
No. 8 Alabama scored 197.375 to finish a close second. Iowa placed third with a 196.5 and Illinois was fourth (195.675).
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