Hogs set beam program record, fall to 4th in Florida | Sports

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The No. 13 Arkansas gymnastics team fell to No. 4 Florida on Friday after a Razorback program record 49.475 on balance beam wasn’t enough to make up for early errors.

The Hogs left Gainesville, Fla., with a final score of 196.475, trailing the Gators’ impressive 198.250, the highest in collegiate gymnastics so far this season.

Two Gymbacks competed in the individual all-around, with senior Kennedy Hambrick placing second with a score of 39.475 and rookie Laura Smith finishing fourth with a 39.300.

The Razorbacks’ woes started early on the uneven bars. After a strong showing on the apparatus two weeks ago, the effects of time away from the gym — caused by COVID-19 concerns postponing last Friday’s meet at LSU — kicked in.

Missed handstands and rocky landings were Hogs history as the team’s uneven bars star, senior Maggie O’Hara, had to start her routine again after a missed skill.

Arkansas was able to regain confidence on the vault. Flying cleanly through the air with landings slightly missing the stick, the Razorbacks were able to eliminate issues on the bars and get stronger. Senior Sarah Shaffer made her vault debut with a solid 9.850, tied with Hambrick for the Hogs’ highest score in the rotation.

Trailing by 1.475, the Razorbacks headed for the floor, a rotation the team has been stellar on in the past. The Hogs demonstrated that excellence with solid routines from all six gymnasts.

Hambrick and rookie Makenzie Sedlacek hit back-to-back 9.850s, and senior Bailey Lovett pulled back from past routines to deliver a powerful performance, scoring a 9.900.

Florida pulled away from the Hogs in the second rotation, but that didn’t stop Arkansas from posting a record-breaking performance in the beam program. All of the Razorbacks seemed comfortable above the 4-inch-wide beam and performed consistent routines.

Four gymnasts scored 9.900 or higher, with Smith hitting the 9.900 mark and senior Amanda Elswick scoring 9.925 with Hambrick and Lovett.

Arkansas managed to move past early errors to have a relatively successful encounter, but that wasn’t enough to deter the Gators, who showed dominance throughout the encounter.

Rookie Leanne Wong scored the nation’s first perfect 10,000 on uneven bars this season, followed by senior Trinity Thomas doing the same on balance beam.

The Razorbacks will be back in action at 6:45 p.m. Friday at Barnhill Arena, when they host West Virginia for an Equality Night-themed home game. The encounter can be streamed on SEC Network+.

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