FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 8 University of Arkansas gymnastics team is on the road for its final meet of the regular season this weekend, traveling to No. 12 Auburn on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
In the Rankings
Arkansas enters the eighth week of competition ranked by Road to Nationals in the top 10 of all four events and all-around for the first time since week eight of the 2012 season. The Gymbacks currently rank No. 8 all-around, No. 10 on vault, No. 7 on bars and No. 8 on beam.
The Razorbacks’ 49.404 floor average is currently tied for second in the nation, Arkansas rose to No. 2 in the ranks after it posted a 49.575 team score on floor in its last two meets. Arkansas is the only team in the nation with five individuals among the top 50 on floor, including junior Kennedy Hambrick (No. 8), redshirt-sophomore Bailey Lovett (No. 17), senior Sophia Carter (No. 22), redshirt-senior Sarah Shaffer (No. 36) and junior Abby Johnston (No. 46).
Last Time Out
Four Gymbacks scored 9.925 on floor en route to a team score of 49.575 in the final rotation. Arkansas ultimately fell to No. 7 Alabama, 197.325-197.000. On bars, Maggie O’Hara earned a 9.950 in the anchor spot and secured her fifth event title of the season. Freshman Jensen Scalzo and sophomore Kiara Gianfagna scored career-highs on bars and beam respectively, both earning 9.875s for their routines.
On beam, Hambrick claimed the title with her second-straight 9.950 in the event. In the final rotation, Johnston scored her first 9.900 or better routine on floor this season, earning a 9.925 as the leadoff routine. Hambrick and Carter took home floor titles, both with 9.925s for Arkansas.
Scout and Series
Arkansas is on the hunt for its fourth score of 197.00 or better this season, looking to bolster its NQS score headed into the final meet of the regular season. The Gymbacks are currently counting a 196.875 (at Georgia) and 196.675 (at Kentucky) towards their NQS score. The Razorbacks are still in contention for a spot in the evening session of the SEC Championships, slated to take place in Huntsville, Alabama on March 20.
Against Auburn, Arkansas is 18-19-1 overall and 12-7 in the regular season. The Gymbacks are 4-5 on the road at Auburn and last competed in Auburn Arena on Feb. 15 of 2019, falling to the Tigers, 197.100-196.175. Over the last 11 meetings, the two teams have split the series 5-5-1, Arkansas is looking to catch its first win at Auburn since 2017, when the Gymbacks defeated the Tigers 196.375-196.075.
Last season, Arkansas hosted Auburn in Barnhill Arena for Women’s Empowerment Night. A less than average bars rotation left the Gymbacks trailing mid-way through the meet and Auburn managed to hold on to the lead and come out with the win, 196.500-196.025.
Auburn (1-6) is playing host to the Razorbacks after it dropped a 198.725-197.025 decision at Florida. The road score was the team’s highest of the year away from The Plains and the third highest overall in 2021. With 17 of 24 routines coming from sophomores and freshmen, Auburn saw big scores throughout the meet as the squad set or tied 10 season or career highs on the night.
The Tigers finished the shortened 2020 season at No. 17 in the national rankings with a 196.490 NQS. The squad reached a season-best 196.700 on two occasions. Individually, junior Drew Watson and sophomore Derrian Gobourne each earned All-America honors at the conclusion of the year as well as All-SEC recognition.
Friday night’s meet will be available on SEC Network+ and is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
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