UA gymnasts shoot to knock off Florida

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 2:07 a.m.

Jessica Yamzon of Arkansas competes on the floor against Missouri Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 23 Arkansas gymnastics team will aim for its third upset of a top-20 program in four weeks tonight at Barnhill Arena against defending SEC champion Florida.

The No. 3 Gators (5-1 overall, 3-1 SEC), who average 197.555 points per meet, are the fifth top-10 opponent Arkansas has faced in seven meets. The Razorbacks (2-4, 2-3) had a two-meet winning streak snapped last week by No. 2 LSU while posting their second-best score of the year.

At a glance

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville

RECORDS Florida 5-1, 3-1 SEC; Arkansas 2-4, 2-3 SEC

RANKINGS No. 3 Florida (197.555 average); No. 23 Arkansas (195.467)

TV SEC Network

SERIES Florida leads 36-4

LAST YEAR Florida 197.45 to 195.975 in Gainesville Fla.; Florida won 197.775 to 196.85 at SECs in North Little Rock

COACHES Jenny Rowland (20-3 in second year at Florida); Mark Cook (180-220-3 in 15th year at Arkansas, 250-253-4 in 19th year overall)

EVENTS Vault: No. 1 Florida, 49.425, No. 22 Arkansas 48.888; Bars: No. 3 Florida 49.367, No. 34 (tie) Arkansas 48.617; Beam: No. 3 Florida 49.367, No. 15 (tie) Arkansas 48.983; Floor: No. 3 Florida 49.363, No. 15 (tie) Arkansas 48.979.

TOP GYMNASTS (Top 100)

Vault: No. 2 Rachel Slocum (Fla) 9.93, No. 5 Alex McMurtry (Fla) 9.917, No. 6 Alicia Boren (Fla) 9.912, No. 13 (tie) Kennedy Baker (Fla) 9.892, No. 23 Maegan Chant (Fla) 9.863, No. 31 (tie) Lacy Dagen (Fla) 9.85, No. 47 (tie) Sydney McGlone (Ark ) 9.833, No. 65 (tie) Braie Speed (Ark) 9.821.

Bars: No. 5 (tie) McMurtry (Fla) and Amelia Hundley (Fla) 9.9, No. 37 (tie) Baker (Fla) 9.842, No 57 (tie) Boren (Fla) 9.829, No. 61 (tie) Chant (Fla) 9.825, No. 91 (tie) Grace McLaughlin (Fla) 9.8.

Beam: No. 10 McMurtry (Fla) 9.875, No. 16 (tie) Boren (Fla) and Amanda Cheney (Fla) 9.863, No. 20 (tie) Rachel Gowey (Fla) 9.858, No. 25 (tie) Baker (Fla) 9.85, No. 45 McLaughlin (Fla) 9.829, No. 49 (tie) Jessica Yamzon (Ark) 9.825, No. 59 (tie) Samantha Nelson (Ark) 9.817, No. 87 (tie) Hailey Garner (Ark) 9.79.

Floor: No. 2 Baker (Fla) 9.95, No. 8 Boren (Fla) 9.913, No. 45 (tie) Slocum (Fla) 9.85, No. 95 Nelson (Ark) 9.817, nat (LSU) 9.935, No. 12 Edney (LSU) 9.9, No. 32 (tie) McKenna Kelley (LSU) 9.867, No. 38 (tie) Sydney Ewing (LSU and Zamardi (LSU) 9.86, No. 46 (tie) Harrold (LSU) 9.85.

All-Around: No. 3 Baker (Fla) 39.55, No. 4 Boren (Fla) 39.517, No. 10 Hundley (Fla) 39.421, No. 47 Gowey (Fla) 39.058, No. 57 (tie) Yamzon (Ark ) 38.975.

MEET NOTES

Arkansas senior Heather Elswick (flu) is questionable for the meet. … Arkansas will hold its annual “Pink” meet to promote breast cancer awareness. … Meet announcers for the SEC Network will be former Olympians John Roethlisberger and Alicia Sacramone.

"Florida's really stacked deep with a lot of fantastic athletes, so it's going to be a very exciting and very challenging competition for us," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "We just approach it as doing the best we can do ... and just try to break 196 again."

The Gators, under second-year Coach Jenny Rowland, are coming off a 197.975 -- the fourth-highest score this season -- in a victory over Georgia. Florida has three returning first-team All-Americans in Kennedy Baker, Alicia Boren and Alex McMurtry. Baker is ranked No. 3 in the all-around with an average score of 39.55, while Boren is No. 4 (39.517).

Arkansas freshman Hailey Garner captured her first event title with a 9.9 on the uneven bars against LSU.

"I wouldn't say it was my best meet all around, but I would say it was my best bar routine," Garner said. "That's what I should be doing every weekend."

Garner, Michaela Burton and Jessica Yamzon, part of Arkansas' freshman class, combine for eight of Arkansas' 24 routines.

"Those freshmen have done such an awesome job," said Arkansas sophomore Sydney McGlone, who has won a beam and a vault title this season.

The Razorbacks have posted back-to-back scores of 196.275 or better, their best work since losing senior All-American Amanda Wellick for the season with an Achilles injury Jan. 13. Freshman Sarah Shaffer has not competed yet after suffering a preseason injury.

"I know it was really hard at first to see those girls go down, especially Amanda, since she's such a leader ... but everyone has taken on such great leadership roles that we've clicked," McGlone said.

"We had a lot of issues with [injuries], so we knew we were going to start off slower," Cook said. "We're pretty much where we thought we'd be with the exception of not having Amanda on the team.

"As far as how we're doing with our routines and execution, we're where we thought we'd be, but it doesn't mean we can't get cleaner and better as we approach the second half of the season."

Florida will be aiming for its 14th consecutive victory in the series.

Arkansas' last victory over the Gators came at the NCAA Denver Regional on April 2, 2011, 196.55 to 196.425. The Razorbacks own two dual-meet victories in the series, in 2009 and 2011 at Barnhill Arena, and Florida was ranked No. 1 both times.

Sports on 02/17/2017