No. 12 Arkansas gymnastics scores program record 197.65, topples No. 13 Mizzou

Arkansas gymnastics coach Jordyn Wieber reacts, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024 during a gymnastics meet at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. (Charlie Kaijo/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — Turnabout turned into a record night for the No. 12 Arkansas Razorback gymnasts in their SEC regular-season finale Sunday.

After watching Missouri post a program-best score to beat them at Barnhill Arena last season, the Razorbacks did the same at Missouri’s Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo.

Arkansas had a huge second half of the meet, notching a 49.525 on its best event, the floor exercise, then topping that with a program-best 49.575 on the balance beam to edge the No. 13 Tigers 197.65 to 197.525.

The Razorbacks (7-5-1, 4-2-1 SEC) out-paced their previous school-record score of 197.525, recorded at Alabama on Jan. 19 this season, and finished with a winning SEC record for the first time since 2016.

“I think it shows the strength of the team and the growth of the program for sure,” fifth-year Arkansas Coach Jordyn Wieber said. “They’re really starting to kind of step into their confidence and believe that they can do it, not just at home but anywhere on the road against any SEC team. So we’re really excited about tonight.”

Arkansas also broke a four-meet losing streak to Missouri (8-5, 2-5), which got a 10.0 from all-around ace Sienna Schreiber on the balance beam.

Arkansas has now scored 197 or better a school-record six times this season.

Arkansas sophomore Lauren Williams shared the floor exercise title at 9.95 with Missouri’s Kennedy Griffin and Jocelyn Moore and tied for the vault title with sophomore teammate Frankie Price and two Tigers.

Arkansas junior Maddie Jones had the meet of her career with three 9.925s. That score tied Missouri’s Hollyn Patrick for the bars title, tied for second on the beam and fourth on the floor.

“It’s just been unbelievable,” Jones said on the SEC Network about setting the school scoring record. “This team is incredible. We’ve just been in the gym working hard every single week to be the team we know we can be.”

The Razorbacks led by .015 heading into the last rotation, where Missouri clearly had an edge with its No. 9 floor routine matched up against the Razorbacks’ No. 22 beam workers.

However, Arkansas had other plans. Junior Kalyxta Gamiao led off with a smooth 9.9, then Jones nailed her blind landing for the 9.925, a score that was matched by sophomore Cami Weaver and freshman Hailey Klein to put the Razorbacks on the brink of the win. Transfer senior Sirena Linton nailed it down with a strong triple series and solid landing for a 9.9 to clinch the meet.

“That’s what we absolutely know they can do,” Wieber said of the beam effort, which has led to sub-par scores in meets at Florida and in Fort Worth, Texas, this season. “We see it in practice every day. We did a lot of pressure routines and worked on their mindset this week in practice and I think it really paid off.”

The Razorbacks turned in four solid routines and two strong ones on the uneven bars to open the meet with a 49.3 and a slender lead as the Tigers struggled with their vault landings but still managed decent scores.

Linton nailed her landing in the fifth position and scored a career-high 9.9 and Jones followed with a 9.925 in the anchor spot to tie for the event title.

The Razorbacks had only one stuck landing on the vault, by Leah Smith, to drop back a hair in the second rotation. Price and Williams scored team highs of 9.875 while Smith had a 9.85.

Meanwhile, Missouri got three scores of 9.9 or better on the bars — Patrick’s 9.925 and 9.9s from Kyra Burns and Amaya Marshall — to post a 49.45. That allowed the Tigers to take a lead of 98.675 to 98.55 at the halfway point.

Arkansas did its normal business on the floor exercise with a 49.525 to reclaim the marginal lead as the Tigers managed 49.25 on the balance beam.

The first four Tigers had major balance corrections on the four-inch beam that nearly caused falls, but each of them held the apparatus to prevent a scoring debacle and keep Missouri in the meet.