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Arkansas and Auburn tie for third at NCAA Regional

253 days ago
Arkansas, Auburn Athletics
Photo: Arkansas Athletics

ARKANSAS

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The Arkansas gymnastics team finished tied for third place at the NCAA Regional on Saturday evening with a team season-high score of 196.600. The top-two teams from the six-team regional - Utah (197.150) and Denver (197.050) - will move on to the NCAA Championship in St. Louis on April 14-16.

Freshman Jessica Yamzon and junior Braie Speed advanced to the NCAA Championship as individual all-arounders and vault specialist, respectively.

Yamzon was the second-highest all-arounder who was not on an advancing team. Among all competitors, she finished sixth with a score of 39.175. Speed tied for first-place in the vault with four other competitors - Denelle Pedrick from Central Michigan, Rachel Fielitz from Denver and MyKayla Skinner from Utah.

"I couldn't be more proud of this team," head coach Mark Cook said. "This team fought through a lot of adversity this season, and with all of the young talent we have, their outstanding performance tonight earned them a lot of invaluable experience."

To kick off the event on balance beam, freshman Michaela Burton earned a 9.875 equaling her personal-best mark set against Auburn on Feb. 3. The score is also tied for the fourth-best mark on beam this season.

Four Razorbacks - Yamzon (9.825), Nelson (9.800), McGlone (9.800) and Burton (9.875) - earned marks of 9.8 and above on balance beam to kick off NCAA Regional action.

Arkansas' score of 49.075 on balance beam is the fourth-highest team score in the event, topping the previous mark of 49.050 set against Centenary and SJSU on March 10.

On floor exercise, the Gymbacks were anchored by senior Samantha Nelson and sophomore Sydney McGlone, who each earned a score of 9.900. Nelson tied her season-high mark earned against Florida on Feb. 17 and McGlone tied her season-high and career-best marks earned against SJSU and Centenary on March 10 along with Alabama on Jan. 22, 2016.

The team's 49.225 on floor is tied for the second-best team performance in the event, equaling the mark set against LSU on Feb. 10.

Moving on to vault, Arkansas was led by junior Braie Speed whose 9.900 was the San Antonio, Texas, native's new career-best score, as well as tying individual season-high marks set by teammates McGlone and Amanda Wellick on Jan. 13 and Jan. 7, respectively.

Freshman Kirby Rathjen also shined in the event, earning a new career-best 9.800, topping her previous marks of 9.775 earned against LSU and Florida on Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. Senior Heather Elswick's 9.825 equaled her season-best performance earned against SJSU and Centenary on March 10.

The Razorbacks rounded off the event with a 49.175, a new team season-high mark, surpassing the previous record of 49.000 gained against LSU on Feb. 10.

Arkansas rounded off the last event with a 49.125 on uneven bars, led by Garner and Burton, who each earned a 9.900. Garner has scored the three highest individual scores in uneven bars this season for the Gymbacks, and her 9.900 in the NCAA Regionals tied a similar score earned on Feb. 10 against No. 2 LSU.

Arkansas' final team score of 196.600 is a new season-high mark, besting the previous high of 196.375 set against No. 17 Auburn on Feb. 3.

AUBURN

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The No. 21 Auburn gymnastics team concluded the 2017 season Saturday in Barnhill Arena, finishing tied for third with a season-high 196.600 at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.

"We hit all 24 routines tonight and that's a big deal for us," head coach Jeff Graba said. "It was the first time all year that we looked this consistent. Our young team really stepped up in this tough event and I think the results show the guts and determination of this team. I'm really proud of the way we finished the season."

Top-seeded Utah won the meet with a 197.150, while No. 2 seed Denver came in second with a 197.050. Host Arkansas also finished with a 196.600, while California came in fifth at 196.300. Central Michigan closed out the team scoring at 195.675.

A pair of Tigers will represent Auburn as individuals at the NCAA Championships, April 14-15, in St. Louis. Sophomore Samantha Cerio finished tied for first on bars with a career-high 9.925 to advance in the event, while freshman Katie Becker's career-best 39.200 in the all-around was good to move on.

"The future is really bright for Auburn gymnastics," Graba said. "Having two of our young student-athletes advance will really set the table for next year."

Auburn kicked off the day with its best event, tying a season-high score on bars with a 49.375. Behind Cerio's 9.925, sophomores Taylor Krippner and Emma Engler added a pair of 9.9s. That total set a career high for Krippner, while it tied a career best for Engler. Freshman Gracie Day chipped in a 9.85 and Becker led things off for the Tigers with a career-high score of 9.8.

The Tigers moved on to beam, finishing with a 49.000. Senior Kullen Hlawek and Cerio put the Tigers in a good position with solid routines, scoring a 9.8 apiece. Following Becker's 9.775, redshirt freshman Emma Slappey finished with 9.8 and Krippner anchored with a 9.825.

After enjoying a bye, the squad put together a solid showing on floor with a 49.150. The youthful Tigers were led by three of its seniors in the event as MJ Rott and Hlawek had team best scores of 9.85s, while Lucia Scaglione chipped in a 9.825. Slappey also earned a 9.825 and Becker and Day kicked off the event with 9.8s.

The meet concluded on vault for the Tigers and the squad's 49.075 was the second-best score of the season. Becker led off the rotation with a career-tying 9.825 and was followed by a 9.8 from Engler. Rott once again had a team high, finishing with a 9.85 on her Yurchenko full. Krippner earned a 9.825 and Day anchored with a 9.775.