FAYETTEVILLE – It was an exciting night in Baton Rouge for the University of Arkansas gymnastics team, the Gymbacks posted the highest season-opening score since 2014 at LSU, but fell to the No. 3 Tigers, 196.350-196.550.
After the first rotation, Arkansas held a steady lead over LSU, 49.250-49.175. The bars team shined in the PMAC, and anchor Maggie O’Hara’s bail handstand and double-layout dismount wowed the judges, as the graduate transfer earned a 9.900 and the bars title in her Razorback debut.
The Gymbacks posted a 48.925 on the vault in the second rotation, highlighted by back-to-back 9.900s from Sarah Shaffer and Amanda Elswick, sticking their Yurchenko layout-half and Yurchenko full respectively. Both Shaffer and Elswick took home a share of the event title in the loss.
Trailing 98.175-98.375 mid-way through the meet, Arkansas pulled out all the moves on the floor in the third rotation. Kennedy Hambrick and Sophia Carter were the feature of the lineup as usual, scoring a 9.900 and 9.925 back-to-back to close out the event. Hambrick’s front handspring, rudi – back layout to stag jump lit up the arena, as did Carter’s double pike last pass.
Arkansas finished out the night on the beam, as Amanda Elswick led off the Gymbacks with a clean 9.825 and Hambrick anchored the team with a spectacular 9.925. Elswick looked elegant on the beam and stuck her back handspring 1.5 dismount. Hambrick followed suit, flowing through her routine and nailing her back-handspring layout and cartwheel gainer full dismount.
Hambrick finished the night with a 39.400 all-around score, claiming the event title for the sixth time in her career.
The Gymbacks return to Fayetteville for their season opener against the LSU Tigers next week, Jan. 15 in Barnhill Arena.
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