Gymbacks Post Third-Highest Team Score in Loss to No. 1 Florida
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas gymnastics team was firing on all cylinders tonight, posting the third-highest team score in program history in its 197.425 – 197.250 loss to the No. 1 Florida Gators in Barnhill Arena on Friday night.
The first rotation sparked a great start for the Gymbacks, with back-to-back career-highs from junior Abby Johnston and freshman Jordan Olszewski. The pair scored a 9.825 and 9.850 respectively on their Yurchenko fulls. Junior Amanda Elswick anchored the Arkansas vault lineup and led the team with a 9.875 on her Yurchenko full. The Razorbacks finished the first rotation with a 49.150, matching their season high from the previous week.
The Gymbacks continued to rise in the second rotation, scoring a season-best 49.375 in the event. All five countable scores hit for 9.850 or higher, including a season-high leadoff performance from Bailey Lovett, whose ray and bail handstand wowed the fans inside Barnhill Arena. Consecutive 9.900s from Kennedy Hambrick and Maggie O’Hara helped Arkansas to its season-best rotation. Hambrick’s full-twisting double-back dismount and O’Hara’s double-layout dismount were beautifully executed in their strong finishes.
Arkansas posted another season-best on the beam with a hefty 49.350 from the beam team. O’Hara scored a 9.925 for the second week in-a-row, executing her split-jump double-stag brilliantly. Hambrick and Lovett also added to the all-around solid third-rotation. Lovett caught the attention of the judges with her backflip catch mount and nailed her front ariel-back layout series, earning a 9.900 for her routine. Hambrick’s cartwheel gainer-full dismount earned her a 9.900 as well, competing for the Gymbacks in the anchor spot for the third-straight week.
Heading into the final rotation, the Gymbacks trailed by only .125 to the top-ranked Gators with a cumulative 147.875 through three rotations. Arkansas brought the heat on the floor, as usual with a huge 9.875 from Abby Johnston in the leadoff position and a career-high 9.800 from Madison Hickey in the second slot. Lovett highlighted the floor team scores with a season-best 9.925, showing off her famous sky-high double-layout first pass.
The Razorbacks will hit the road next week and visit Athens, Ga. on Jan. 29, home of the Georgia Bulldogs. The Friday night meet will air on the SEC Network at 7:30 p.m. CT. Arkansas will have a bye week before returning to action at Kentucky on Feb. 12 at 6:00 p.m. CT.
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