Arkansas gymnasts look for winning SEC record

Arkansas coach Jordyn Wieber is shown Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, during a meet against Georgia in Fayetteville. (Charlie Kaijo/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — A winning SEC record is on the line tonight in Columbia, Mo., for the University of Arkansas gymnasts.

The No. 12 Razorbacks, coming off a big home win against No. 6 Kentucky, can notch their fourth SEC dual meet victory of the season by out-pointing No. 13 Missouri at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Hearnes Center.

Arkansas (6-5-1, 3-2-1 SEC), under fifth-year Coach Jordyn Wieber, would finish above .500 for the first time since posting a 4-3 mark in 2016 if the Razorbacks can snap their four-meet losing streak against the Tigers.

The Razorbacks’ success this season has come against a brutal schedule. They have competed seven times the first eight weekends against teams in the current top 10, and 10 times against opponents in the top 20.

Missouri (8-4, 2-4 SEC), 4-0 at home this season, will be the seventh SEC opponent the Razorbacks have faced that is ranked in the top 16 at the time of the meet.

The teams are separated by fractions in the latest rankings, the first of the season determined by National Qualifying Scores (NQS). Arkansas moved up four spots to No. 12 with an NQS score of 197.19, while Missouri is one spot behind at No. 13, one-hundredth of a point behind at 197.18.

“Mizzou is a great team again this weekend and we’re excited to go compete against them, and really the opportunity I see is to go get a strong road score and continue to boost our NQS,” Wieber said. “Right now we’re still counting a high 196 so being able to drop that would be fantastic.”

Arkansas is unbeaten in three home meets at Barnhill Arena and posted its program-record score of 197.525 at Alabama on Jan. 19. However, its other road performances have been shaky. The Razorbacks broke a three-meet streak of having to count a fall or major deduction two weeks ago at Texas Women’s University to go 197.375, then followed that with a 197.4, their fifth score of 197 or better this season, to down Kentucky.

After competing three times in the span of seven days two weeks ago, the Razorbacks will have had eight full days to prepare for the Tigers.

“It feels really good to have a full week of training, with four full workouts,” Wieber said. “Obviously getting back and being able to drill certain skills and work on details and clean things up … the team’s feeling really good about having that opportunity this week.”

The Razorbacks have four performers among the top 26 on the four events, with sophomore Lauren Williams doubling at No. 8 on the floor exercise (9.94) and No. 11 on vault (9.9). She is tied with sophomore teammate Frankie Price on the floor, and junior Kalyxta Gamiao is the No. 26 beam worker (9.89).

Missouri has similar depth to the Razorbacks, though Sienna Schreiber is a standout at No. 15 in the country in the all-around with an NQS of 39.485.