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Gymbacks Confident Despite Slow Start

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Senior Heather Elswick finishes her floor routine in Barnhill Arena on Jan. 27. Arkansas took home a 195.825-195.325 win over No. 5 Alabama.

After a close couple of rotations to begin the meet, the No. 24 Razorback gymnastics team pulled off an upset against then-No. 5 Alabama at home on Jan. 27 with a score of 195.825-195.325.

This win was the third in a row that Arkansas has enjoyed against a tough Alabama team.

Freshman Jessica Yamzon stole the show and won the first all-around individual victory of her collegiate career with a score of 39.225.

“It’s incredible; I’m speechless right now,” Yamzon said. “I’m just so happy.”

The gymnasts looked in command through the majority of the match. They didn’t let the pressure of facing a top-five team affect their focus.

“I was kind of just focusing on what we were doing and what we needed to accomplish,” Yamzon said. “I think we just did a great job; we stayed calm, we stayed in our bubble and it was just amazing.”

The major turning-point in the match was due to some mistakes by Alabama on the floor routine, followed by four out of six scores of over 9.8 by the Hogs. The 48.975-48.250 victory on the floor put a gap between the two teams that the Crimson Tide weren’t able to overcome.

The Razorbacks had a historic crowd size of 5,456, the third largest in Arkansas Gymnastics history. This fan turnout made the team feel right at home, even when staring down at a top five team like Alabama.

“The crowd tonight was amazing,” Yamzon said. “I just thought that it was awesome being in front of our home crowd and having this many people, it just made me even more excited. Other arenas (have) had this vibe, but tonight, it was unreal.”

Arkansas head coach Mark Cook said the energy in the building had a major impact on the gymnasts.

The road ahead looks treacherous for the Razorbacks, as they will face three straight top-20 teams, two of which are in the top three. But the team isn’t new to such hazardous schedules, in fact, their first seven meets this season are against top-20 teams, including four in the top five.

Yamzon and her teammates look to take that daunting task head on, one day at a time.

“I kind of just go into it every week as a new week,” Yamzon said. “Starting fresh and having my goals set for that weekend and trying to accomplish them throughout the week and at the meet.”

The team’s goals for this year are clear: win.

“As a team we want to go to Super Six,” Yamzon said. “I think that if we’re confident and we do what we’ve been training (to do), we can really do big things.”

Cook likes how the team is progressing so far through the season.

“I think that our team is getting better,” Cook said. “I was pleased with basically getting more momentum after we had the bad meet last week. The freshmen really shined tonight. Good development. I’m seeing a lot out of them now. The team as a whole, we’re pleased with our progress, (but) we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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