In arguably the best and most competitive conference in the country, the going tends to get tough pretty often. The Gymbacks, however, seem to respond well to the pressure.
Trailing late in the contest against a top-10 Southeastern Conference opponent for the second-consecutive week, the No. 8 Razorbacks defeated No. 9 Auburn, 196.600-195.975 in a valiant comeback effort. Amanda Wellick won the vault with a score of 9.90 and the all-around title for the meet with a total of 39.500.
Wellick, a junior from Wheaton, Illinois, shared a balance beam title with fellow junior Samantha Nelson. The 4-foot-11 athlete from Massachusetts had the highest floor exercise score in the meet and tied a career high with a 9.925.
The Razorbacks started out with a 49.075 on vault, with Wellick posting her fourth 9.900 in five meets this season. On uneven bars, sophomore Braie Speed scored a 9.850, while Wellick also tied a season high with the same score as the Razorbacks posted a 49.025. However, a stellar uneven bars score of 49.250 from the Auburn Tigers put the Razorbacks behind the eight-ball early.
On the balance beam, Arkansas posted a score above a 49.000 for the fourth-consecutive meet, this time with a 49.150. Nelson tied her career high of 9.850 for the second-straight week, while Wellick had a 9.850 and Paige Zaziski and Erin Freier notched 9.825, all against top-notch opponents.
“This team is full of fighters and we don’t hold back, junior Samantha Nelson said. “Before the final rotation, we knew we needed to get fired up and leave it all out on the floor.”
With a 49.275 on floor from the Tigers, the Razorbacks stepped up to the fourth rotation with a .300-point deficit. Similar to No. 4 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Auburn struggled on beam with two falls and finished with a team score of 48.425. Meanwhile, the Hogs put forth a 49.325 on floor and pulled out the victory at home.
“This team continues to perform consistently and aggressively,” head coach Mark Cook said. “There are always things we can improve in our routines, but once we dial in we will have the opportunity to break a 197. I’m very proud of their progress.”
For the second-consecutive meet, all six Razorbacks scored above a 9.800 on floor, beginning with a 9.850 from senior Sydnie Dillard.
“It’s very important to me,” Dillard said. “And gives me a lot of pride to really set the tone for my team by starting us off strong with a great floor routine.”
The Razorbacks will be on the road for the next three consecutive meets, beginning Friday against No. 6 Louisiana State University.