Arkansas gymnastics team finishes second in North Texas

Arkansas' Hailey Klein competes in the floor exercise Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, during the Razorbacks' meet with Auburn in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. (Andy Shupe/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas freshman Hailey Klein earned her first event title and the Razorback gymnasts put up a huge score on their top event, the floor exercise, to place second in the Texas Women’s University quad meet in Denton, Texas, on Monday.

The No. 16 Razorbacks posted a 197.375, their second-highest score of the season and fourth highest in school history, to finish a quarter of a point behind No. 10 Alabama (197.625).

No. 19 Arizona placed third with a score of 196.95 and the host Texas Women's University Owls were fourth at 195.725.

Klein, the 5-2 athlete from Lake Forest, Ill., had a big performance in her first three-event outing for the Razorbacks. The Lake Forest, Ill., product hit her landing on the balance beam for an event-winning 9.925 in the second rotation.

Klein also posted contributing scores with a 9.875 on the floor exercise and a 9.875 on the vault.

The Razorbacks went big yet again on the floor exercise with a 49.575 to tie for the second-highest score in program history. Sophomore standouts Lauren Williams and Frankie Price led the way in the final two spots with matching 9.95s. They shared the event title with Alabama’s Lilly Hudson. 

Arkansas junior Maddie Jones scored 9.925 on the event to tie for fourth place with Arizona’s Emily Mueller.

Arkansas also posted two other 9.9s, with sophomore Reese Drotar hitting that mark on the uneven bars for the second consecutive meet, and junior Kalyxta Gamiao doing it in the lead-off spot on the balance beam.

The Razorbacks got back to the form they exhibited early in the season when they opened the year with three scores of 197 or better, including a 197.525 in a tie against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. 

Arkansas had been forced to count a fall or a major deduction for three meets in a row, including on the balance beam in Saturday’s third-place finish at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth. 

The Razorbacks had another fall on the beam but did not have to count Cami Weaver’s 9.225 after clutch routines from Klein and Sirena Linton (9.85) in the final two spots.

The other event winners were Alabama’s Makarri Doggette (9.9) on the vault and Alabama’s Cameron Machado (9.975) on the bars.

Klein, Williams and Leah Smith all had 9.875s on the vault to land in a five-way tie for second place with Alabama’s Gabby Gladieux and TWU’s Kaitlyn Holland.

The Razorbacks will return home to compete at Barnhill Arena on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 5 Kentucky.

RESULTS

Alabama 197.625

Arkansas 197.375

Arizona 196.95

Texas Womans 195.725

Arkansas (197.375)

Uneven bars (49.3): Sirena Linton 9.675, Jamie Pratt 9.875, Reese Drotar 9.9, Jensen Scalzo 9.825, Priscilla Park 9.85, Maddie Jones 9.85

Balance beam (49.2): Kalyxta Gamiao 9.9, Cally Swaney 9.8, Lauren Williams 9.75, Weaver 9.225, Hailey Klein 9.925, Linton 9.85

Floor exercise (49.575): Gamiao 9.85, Klein 9.875, Jones 9.925, Leah Smith 9.875, Williams 9.95, Frankie Price 9.95

Vault (49.3): Cami Weaver 9.825, Park 9.85, Smith 9.875, Dakota Essenpries 9.825, Klein 9.875, Williams 9.875