Though the Razorback gymnastics team as a whole didn’t qualify for the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, the team will still be represented by Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Year Katherine Grable and SEC Freshman of the Year Amanda Wellick, who qualified as individual all-around competitors.
“They’re both exceptional athletes and can still make a statement for our program even though our team’s not there,” co-head coach Mark Cook said.
This is the first year that senior Katherine Grable will be going to the national championships as an individual and without the rest of her team.
“I’ll be thinking they’re there in spirit,” Grable said. “The difference from competing with your team and competing alone is just not having all the support there. The team you rotate with will cheer for you, but it’s not the same.”
Both No. 3 Grable and No. 19 Wellick will compete in Session II on Friday.
The teams featured in Session II are No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Utah, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 10 UCLA and No. 12 Penn State. The top three teams from each session will advance to the Super Six competition Saturday.
Grable will rotate with No. 5 Utah, who placed first at the Fayetteville Regional, and will begin on the bars, and continue with the beam, followed by a bye, then floor competition, vault and will finally end on a bye.
Wellick will rotate with No. 7 Nebraska, who placed second at the Seattle Regional, and begin the competition on the floor, followed by vault, then a bye, bars, and beam before ending on a bye.
As All-Around competitors, Grable and Wellick will compete after the team they are rotating with is finished and be in competition with all-arounders from Sessions I and II combined.
The other all-arounders competing in Session II are No. 23 Alexis Gunzelman from Rutgers, No. 38 Caitlin Brown from Iowa State, No. 16 Marie Case, and No. 29 Hope Sloanhoffer of West Virginia.
The all-arounders competing in Session I are No. 17 Moriah Martin of Denver, No. 7 Lindsay Mable from Minnesota, No. 17 Chelsea Tang and Madeline Gardiner from Oregon State, No. 63 Kalliah McCartney of Sacramento State, and No. 21 Alicia Asturias of California.
Of the 12 all-around competitors from non-qualifying teams, Grable is ranked number one with a regional score of 39.675, and Wellick is 12th with a 39.000.
Grable said her biggest competition in the all-arounds are players competing with their teams instead of other individual qualifiers.
“The two girls ahead of me, Rheagan Courville from LSU and Bridget Sloan from Florida are unbelievable gymnasts, and Bridget’s RQS is a whole tenth above me, so I’ve been working on every little detail possible.”
After day one of competition, a National Champion will be crowned in the All-Around competition, selected by having the highest score out of both sessions of the Semifinal.
The top eight finishers in each event in each session will be awarded All-American honors, with the top four places (including ties) earning First-Team distinction and the next four places earning Second-Team.
The top four gymnasts from each session in each event (plus ties) from the semifinal team and all-around competitions will compete in the individual-event competition Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m.
This will be Grable’s fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, and the first for freshman Wellick. This will also be the last time Grable puts on a Razorback uniform.
“It’s bittersweet; my career so far has been so fulfilling, so however the meet ends up turning out, I’m still going to be proud,” she said. “I really want to have fun this meet especially and just leave it all on the floor.”
Session I of the meet is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m, and Session II at 7 p.m. Friday, April 18, in Birmingham, Ala., in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center Arena.