FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas gymnastics team saw improvements across the board on Friday night in the Gymbacks’ home opener in Barnhill Arena, but fell to the LSU Tigers 197.275 – 196.625.
The first rotation brought a lot of promise for the Razorbacks, with four consecutive 9.800 vaults. Abby Johnston, Savannah Pennese, Jordan Olszewski and Sarah Shaffer all contributed to the solid rotation. Junior Kennedy Hambrick anchored the vault team, sticking her Yurchenko one and half and closing out vault with a 9.900, giving Arkansas a 49.150.
Anchoring the bars tonight for Arkansas was graduate transfer Maggie O’Hara. For the second week in-a-row, O’Hara shine for the crowd, showing off her blind-change jaeger and bail handstand for the judges. She would stick her double-layout dismount, securing a career-high 9.950 and the bars title for the second straight week.
O’Hara earned her second event title of the night on the beam, scoring a 9.925 after beautifully executing her side-ariel back handspring series and side-ariel 1.5 dismount. Sarah Shaffer and Sophia Carter continued with crucial hit routines of their own, each scoring a 9.900. Hambrick’s back handspring layout on the beam would earn her a 9.825 in the sixth spot, for a team total of 49.325, the eighth highest in program history.
The Gymbacks went above and beyond on the floor tonight, finishing with a 49.500 as a team. Junior transfer Abby Johnston started the rotation with a double-pike first pass and double-back last pass, finishing her first floor party in Barnhill Arena with a 9.875 in the lead off spot. Shaffer and Hambrick consistently showed up for the Gymbacks tonight, delivering another pair of 9.900s. Shaffer’s stability for the Gymbacks paid off dividends, as the redshirt-senior wrapped up her final home opener as a Razorback with a career-high 39.525 in the all-around.
Redshirt-sophomore Bailey Lovett’s stellar double-layout first pass is always a show-stopper and helped the Razorbacks with the third-straight 9.900 on the floor.
In true Sophia Carter fashion, the senior pulled the curtains on an exciting night in Barnhill Arena with gorgeous performance, highlighted by her double-back first pass and switch half-split full. Carter earned a 9.925 for her routine for the second week in-a-row.
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