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The Arkansas Gymnastics team placed third in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional Saturday afternoon in Barnhill Arena, failing to qualify for the National Championships.

Utah placed first with a team total of 197.300, and UCLA came second with a score of 196.600. Arkansas’ final score was 196.375, only .225 points shy of second place. Utah and UCLA will advance to the NCAA Championship meet.

However, senior All-American and Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Year Katherine Grable, and SEC Freshman of the Year Amanda Wellick will advance to the championship as all-around individual competitors.

The Razorbacks started out extremely strong on the vault, leading in rotation one with a score of 49.25. Grable matched her career-best mark and placed first overall on the vault with a 9.95. Wellick, who also matched her career best, scored a 9.90, earning her second place on the vault. Seniors Scarlett Williams and Bailee Zumwalde contributed with scores of 9.85 and 9.80, respectively.

As with the vault, Arkansas beat out the competition on the bars as well, with a score of 49.375, a season-best rotation score. Grable and Wellick tied for second place overall on the bars, both scoring 9.90. Senior Shelby Salmon and junior Stephani Canizaro also added matching 9.875’s to the scoreboard.

While the Razorbacks came away with their lowest overall score of the night on the beam (48.475), Grable saw success with her 9.875 score, placing her third on the beam.

“After hitting the best bar routines that we could possibly do, the team was so excited and confident,” co-head coach Rene Lyst said. “Then we go to the beam and did not stay as focused as we needed to. We did not have to count a fall, but we didn’t have the strongest routines to end the meet like we did in the past.”       

The Gym'Backs wrapped up the competition on the floor, and although they posted an impressive 49.275, it would not be enough to overcome the deficit behind UCLA. After a stunning, nearly perfect floor routine, Grable tied for first place on the floor with a 9.95. Sophomore Heather Elswick set a new career-best of 9.875 on the floor.

“I think we started out well but got a little overconfident and let our nerves get to us," Grable said after the meet. “We did amazing on the vault and bars, and our team spirit was off the wall, but when we hit the beam we just let the nerves get to us and we let it slip away.”

The results of the meet were bittersweet, because although Arkansas failed to place in the top two to advance as a team, Grable and Wellick qualified as individuals for nationals.

“We are both excited,” Grable said. “Being at nationals the past three years with my team, it’s definitely going to be a huge adjustment to go with just one other girl. But we’re going to try to embrace it, keep working hard, do the best routines we can up there, and represent our team.”

Grable and Wellick will head to Birmingham, Ala., next weekend to compete in the NCAA Championship.

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