Three seniors win titles, Arkansas Falls Georgia

While the Gymbacks didn’t come away with a victory on Friday, the team sent their seniors with a few more titles and their biggest crowd to Barnhill this season to cap their Arkansas career at home.

The Bulldogs beat the Hogs 196.975-196.100, which is Georgia’s highest score this season. The two were tied on vault and beam, and the Gymbacks edged the Bulldogs on floor 49.375-49.250.

The competition was highlighted by a pair of event titles for senior Amanda Elswick on vault and beam. Her 9.900 on vault is a career high and she also scored a 9.900 on balance beam, her fourth score above 9.900 at the event this season. She shared the beam title with rookie Leah Smith and fellow senior Bailey Lovett.

Senior Kennedy Hambrick also picked up a few wins in her farewell to Barnhill, on floor with a 9.925 as well as the all-around victory.

The team’s seven seniors – Elswick, Lovett, Hambrick, Maggie O’Hara, Sarah Shaffer, Abby Johnston and Savannah Pennese – were honored post-competition for their dedication and achievements both in and out of the gym over the years.

The atmosphere was set for a celebration, with 4,907 fans in attendance, the team’s largest home audience since meeting at Bud Walton Arena on January 14 and the biggest at Barnhill Arena in 2022.

To jump
A stuck Yurchenko from Pennese got Senior Night and Arkansas off to a flying start. Smith and Shaffer followed with pair 9.850, and Elswick finished fourth with a team best 9.900. Hambrick finished with a 9.850, and the Gymbacks scored no less than 9.800 on the rotation for a total of 49.250.

Smith started the bars range with a 9.800 and the scores for the first half of the range built from there. Year two Jensen Scalzo again put in a consistent performance as she did week after week and landed her clean double dismount for a 9.825. Rookie Maddie Jones was next and floated through each of her outings. She finished with another blocked double layout and posted a team best 9.850. Arkansas had to count two falls in the second half of the bars alignment and finished with a 48.150.

The Gymbacks needed to bounce back on the beam and they did just that. Rookie Kalyxta Gamiao started for the Hogs for the second straight week and showed all the poise of a seasoned veteran. She was steady all the way and nailed her 1.5 twist takedown with a stick for a score of 9.850. Smith took third place with a flowing routine and nailed his back double dismount for another great rookie performance and a score of 9.900. Lovett started his senior night with a bang and a solid 9.900 routine which brought Elswick to anchor. Her last beam routine at Barnhill Arena was a beauty with solid acro and batting for another 9.900. Arkansas’ beam score of 49.325 is the team’s second-highest score this season.

The final home party of the season did not disappoint. The freshman duo of Jones and Makie Sedlacek at second and third place Arkansas posted scores of 9.875 to round out a strong first half of the roster. Hambrick then took the floor and shined with a stellar 9.925 routine, complete with three blocked passes. Lovett kept up the momentum and nailed his signature double layout for the final time on Barnhill. The next two passes were just as strong and she scored 9.875. Shaffer anchored the rotation and competition for Arkansas, a bittersweet end to his standout six-year career. She had a solid performance and scored a 9.825 for Arkansas for a final 49.375 on floor, the team’s second-highest this season and their 39th straight meeting with a 49 or better on floor.

Arkansas wraps up its SEC double slate with a game against Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday, March 4 at 7 p.m. The Gymbacks then travel north to Huntsville for Elevate the Stage with Alabama, Auburn and Georgia on Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m. at Propst Arena.

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