LIVE BLOG: No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 12 Arkansas

In this meet, two of the NCAA’s great beam lineups will face off, and I couldn’t be more excited. Oklahoma hardly bears introducing, but it carries a fair amount of intrigue into 2019 and will be able to benefit from the conventionally generous scoring in Fayetteville. Arkansas seems prepared to soar this season, but a few short term injuries could restrict its depth for the first few weeks.

The Sooners likely won’t recover quite as many routines as they lost in 2018, but they’ve found a few critical additions on the existing roster that mean they’ll be far from a depth crisis. They have as many as seven 10.0 start vaults, notably including Nicole Lehrmann’s upgrade. Meanwhile, Brenna Dowell is once again flirting with the beam lineup. Don’t be surprised if Jade Degouveia makes a splash after an injury-marred sophomore year and expect at least a few routines from freshman Olivia Trautman.

Arkansas has helpfully posted projected lineups in its meet notes, which is my absolute favorite thing. Thank you so much for that, Arkansas. Recent injuries to freshmen Bailey Lovett and Amanda Elswick will likely keep them out for January, but Savannah Pennese will make her debut on vault while Kennedy Hambrick opens her career on three events. Hailey Garner is only competing bars this week for unknown reasons,  Jessica Yamzon and Sarah Shaffer expectedly return to the all around and Sydney McGlone makes her injury comeback on vault and floor.

https://twitter.com/OU_WGymnastics/status/1081697782396796928

Good news folks! OU is wearing the leotard that says yes on the sleeves. I think this is the funniest thing in the world and will be using the word yes at every opportunity through the liveblog.

ROTATION 1: ARKANSAS VAULT, OKLAHOMA BARS

YAMZON – ARK: Her usual full, a little soft on the table with just okay amplitude and a good landing. Small hop back.

SHOWERS – OU: Short on first handstand, great Shushunova. Handstands just okay, good bail, half in half out with a step back.

SHAFFER – ARK: Super height on her Yurchenko arabian, very open with a big step forward.

MARKS – OU: Toe on to Maloney, bail not quite to handstand, Bit of sickling in her feet, full out dismount is gorgeous  and stuck.

So to be clear, there are three different things written on this leotard. There’s a huge OU on the back, the yes on the wrists, and a SOONERS on one sleeve.

BURTON – ARK: Twisting hard onto the table, full is big but slightly off to one side.

WEBB – OU: Feet crunchy throughout, toe blind to double front 1/2 is huge and stuck.

PENNESE – ARK: Freshman debut! The best full yet, blocks straight and good amplitude with a small hop. Maybe a touch piked down.

DOWELL – OU: Ray is big and caught with bent arms. Great bail, slightly short on one handstand, double lay with a hop back.

HAMBRICK – ARK: Another freshman debut and it’s GREAT. Huge and flared on her full with a hop back.

LEHRMANN – OU: Blind to Jaeger, just a touch close, toe on to bail. True half in half out with a stick. You don’t see that dismount done that well too often.

MCGLONE – ARK: Back off her elbow injury in 2018! Another really good one, open and flared. She vaults really quickly.

NICHOLS – UB: Ray is great to Pak with big leg sep, oh I think she skimmed her foot on the floor there. Commentators definitely think so. Missed a handstand on high bar, double layout with leg stagger like usual. 9.9 that’s ADORABLE.

OKLAHOMA 49.475 – ARKANSAS 48.825

I thought those scores were harsh for Arkansas. Yeah, they’re just fulls and they have hops, but they were technically really solid. Oklahoma was great on bars but I did see more form than the judges did. That said, Twitter thinks the rotation was OMG PERFECT, so the truth is probably somewhere in between.

ROTATION 2: OKLAHOMA VAULT, ARKANSAS BARS

SHOWERS – OU: Big full, bounce in place. A little too much boing there

Heather Elswick is on commentary and is 1000% sure that a FTY starts from a 9.90. Not quite sweetie.

YAMZON – ARK: The consummate lead off. Slightly poked first couple of handstands, great bail, FTDLO dismount with a tiny bounce in place.

LEHRMANN – OU: Twisting onto the table on her one and a half with a hop forward. Great upgrade from her!

CARTER – ARK: Not a mainstay in this lineup, should be interesting. Blind to Jaeger, a touch late on the turn, handstands just okay. Good bail, over on a handstand on HB but got it back, blind full to double back dismount with a step to salute.

TRAUTMAN – OU: Bigger Y3/2 than Lehrmann, but not as pretty in the air. Tucks it in the last half twist and the flow of the vault isn’t as even – feels like she has to really yank it around.

LAIRD – ARK: Missed the first handstand, good Ray with a touch of feet, good transition work, double layout a little low with a step back.

DEGOUVEIA – OU: Another one and a half, best one yet by far. Beautiful and dynamic in the air with a slight side hop. Fantastic.

GARNER – ARK: Nothing obviously strapped that would give us a hint about why she’s not doing all her events. Full turn to Gienger to overshoot gorgeous. One of the best Giengers in the NCAA. Blind full to double back with a step back. Really really good!

NICHOLS – OU: One and a half, Elswick says it was a stuck landing but it was absolutely not. Usual leg separation and she has to step one foot in.

Still a great vault. Ten is… yeah.

SHAFFER – ARK: Beautiful Maloney, slight arch in her bail, just a tiny bit too much power into that. Double lay with a hop back and it’s lovely. Her lines are amazing.

DOWELL – OU: Beautiful one and a half, her usual slight twist onto the table. It’s slightly underrotated and has to step it around but the dynamics of this one are just amazing.

BURTON – ARK: Casts over on low bar and has to hop off. Peels on her Maloney. Rough start. Hits the Maloney on her second try, hits her feet on a Pak. Double lay whippy but landed well enough.

Stern in exhibition for OU does another one and a half, not quite prepared for the landing with a few quick steps forward.

Gillings on exhibition for Arkansas is pretty good. Jaeger can’t decide if it’s straddled or piked, a touch of leg sep on the bail, full turn to double back is a little wonky but good.

OKLAHOMA 99.100 – ARKANSAS 97.425

Good grief.

ROTATION 3: ARKANSAS BEAM, OKLAHOMA FLOOR

YAMZON – ARK: Something to switch side 1/4, one of my favorite leaps. Triple series is easy and flowy. Kickover front great, gainer full with a hop back.

SHOWERS – OU: OH MY GOD the poor thing to the same insane seizure choreo that poor Brenna had to do freshman year. Yikes. I was so distracted I missed her first pass. Probably a double pike. Front lay front full is okay, I think this routine is insect-themed. Rudi is way underrotated, rebounds sideways onto her hands? Odd error. She’s okay though.

GILLINGS – ARK: Full turn very pretty, triple series sooo gorgeous with a little check at the end. Split… misses the connection. Beat jump to straddle quarter to get her start value up. Good recovery from the freshman, one and a half twist with a step forward.

DEGOUVEIA – OU: This one is super cool. She’s always remind me of Kate Winslet…? Front double full is fantastic and airy, big jump out and pretends it’s dance. Front combo pass is great. One and a half front full, think there was a bit of leg form there.

GARNER – ARK: Oh hey you’re here now! Beat to straddle 3/4. Side aerial to loso with a check, never really got her front foot down. Side aerial back full stuck. She can be so good on this event, just needs to settle in a bit more.

DOWELL – OU: Double front is great. I’ve seen it with a bit less cowboying but like, it doesn’t matter. I think this floor routine is the best fit she’s had at OU. One and a half front lay, a touch off on her landing but makes it work, good leap series. Front lay front full is gorgeous. Well done.

CARTER – ARK: Didn’t catch her series, bend over check on her front aerial. Her choreo her is so gorgeous. Full turn is nice, side aerial back full good. Again, she’ll be back to threatening for tens, just a bit of first meet nerves.

WEBB – OU: Front double fall a bit of form in the air. One and a half front full. A little short on the split full in her leap series, Rudi gorgeous. There’s an interesting bit of choreo where she’s throwing something from the back of her head?

SHAFFER – ARK: She does a walkover onto her back on the end of the beam, which is my favorite beam mount. Flic loso with a small check. Side leap with another small check, great side aerial.  Handspring tuck 3/2 dismount – interesting! Legs not the absolute cleanest and a side step.

NICHOLS – OU: Quiet dramatic routine this year, opens with a double back, no E pass today, front full front aerial a little sideways today but she stays in control. Switch ring tour jete 1/2. I think she’ll perform this better and better through the year, today feels like the tumbling’s not quite clicking for her. Double pike with a hop forward and another one to lunge.

BURTON – ARK: Pressure on. Flic loso, lands it dead centered and grinning. Full turn, split to sheep gorgeous, stuck gainer full dismount. Rocked that, great recovery after her moment on bars.

TRAUTMAN – OU: Nice double lay, hop to lunge. This choreo is walking the line between creative and weird but have to respect the stamina she’s bringing to it. Front lay front full? to split jump. Tour jete 1/2 to Popa okay, double back and kicks out of it with a scoot back. She’s having a really strong first day. 9.95 is probably a bit much but some of the others were a touch shy so it’s fine.

Hambrick up on beam, tentative lineups had her in the main lineup over Garner but she was moved to exo instead. Acro series good, switch switch half okay, full turn, her straddle 3/4 is GORGEOUS. Side aerial gainer full lovely.

Stern is Oklahoma’s exo. Flung her double pike out, barely stayed in bounds. Front lay tuck barani, that wasn’t the pass she was going for. Weird leap series… two wolf fulls to a switch leap. Oh, not her day. Front handspring front tuck straight to her butt, was never going to land that. Hope she’s okay, she looked really off.

OKLAHOMA 148.475 – ARKANSAS 146.400

Oklahoma scores were weirdly tight there, but it balances with bits of generosity up to this point. Really excited for this next rotation – Arkansas floor does not mess around.

ROTATION 4: OKLAHOMA BEAM, ARKANSAS FLOOR

TRAUTMAN – BEAM: Missed the first part because of stream. Leap to pike kickover front with a bit of a bounce, one and a half dismount and jumps her feet together.

YAMZON – FLOOR: Queen of leading off. Double back, just scoots her front foot back a little. Double pike is better. Choreo is fun, gives her some space to engage with the crowd. Front lay front full is the great. Arkansas is starting a new tradition this year of making an “A” with their hands during floor routines.

LEHRMANN – BEAM: Really nice mount sequence. Flic loso Korbut is lovely. Something to switch side, very pretty, front handspring for the directions requirement. Gainer full and hops legs together. Nice one!

LOL I can see Brenna in the background using chalk to draw a beam line on the mat to drill. Very distracting.

HAMBRICK – FLOOR: Double back is sky high. Probably the biggest floor pass of the day. Front lay front full, overrotates a bit and bounces out. Switch half to split full jump. She and McCool are doing the choreo together face to face <3 Double pike to close, nailed it.

WOODARD – BEAM: Pretty mount sequence – this is my favorite OU beam and I’m so glad it’s back. Side aerial bhs is great, kickover front odd – takes awhile to pull her legs together, but it’s okay. The gorgeous developee choreo, side aerial back full, swims with her arms.

Um, red alert, Brenna will replace Brehanna in beam and the all around today.

BURTON – ARK: Double pike naiiiled. Switch half Popa great, double back a touch undercooked with a lunge forward. Front full front lay also underrotated… that must be TERRIFYING. Only gets one foot down and totally could have fallen back but she got her weight over her foot in time.

DOWELL – OU: Front aerial bhs very secure. Switch switch a touch short on skills, very dramatic choreo. She looks very focused but not cripplingly nervous. Comes out of her full turn a touch early but it’s probably fine, and nails the Kochetkova to beat jump. Front full with a hop forward. She did it!!!

Does she stay in? I’d say go for it.

MCGLONE – ARK: Hasn’t competed floor in a good while. Double pike, big step out of bounds. Front full front lay, this routine is really tightly choreographed and I love it. Tour jete 1/2 to Popa, question mark on the splits there. Double back, jump to lunge. Welcome back.

WEBB – OU: Full turn, flic loso with a lean. Cat leap to front aerial is gorgeous. Then I got distracted checking up on TWU so I forgot to watch the rest but it must have been good because it got a 9.95.

SHAFFER – ARK: Ooooh this choreo is very cool. She’s got some ballet jumps in here. Double back is great, this floor lineup could be incredible in a few weeks. One and a half front layout is beautiful. I think I missed a pass somewhere in there.

NICHOLS – OU: Is that back drop thing new or has offseason thing just been too long? Acro very good, switch to split with the usual front foot situation, one and a half twist huge with leg split on landing.

CARTER – ARK: The Phantom routine, it’s just so beautiful.I missed her first pass thinking about pretty. One and a half front full with a little stumble into dance. Switch half split full I think? This is really exquisite. Double pike, just underrotated, bounce forward onto her toes. Tumbling could have been a little tidier but it’ll come. 9.95 hahaha okay.

Evy Schoepfer did a beam exhibition for OU and did a good job. Pennese for Arkansas, solid, I think I saw some landings that got interesting.

FINAL: OKLAHOMA 198.050 – ARKANSAS 195.575
AA: Maggie Nichols 39.750
VT: Maggie Nichols 10.000
UB: Nicole Lehrmann 9.950
BB: Maggie Nichols 9.975
FX: Sophia Carter, Sarah Shaffer 9.950

Well that was quite something. Oklahoma starting really strong – not using the freshmen extensively as I expected, but finding enough routines from returners to be good to great anyway. There were some individual really odd scores this meet… but nothing that intensely matters at this point.

Arkansas did well enough, I think just a few early season nerves from the Razorbacks especially on beam. The floor rotation has potential to be really special. They should be pleased with the performance of their newcomers—and don’t forget that they have two star freshmen coming back in from short term injuries over the next weeks.


Live blog by Rebecca Scally

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One comment

  1. As fan of Oklahoma I have to admit that the judges tend to take to them and seemingly show them a little favor every now and then. I guess their reputation as a hardworking team w/talent and good coaching doesn’t hurt. They tend not to be hit as hard for noticeable mistakes on floor and bars, but when it comes to beam and vault they 100% deserve the praise and high scores. Not sure why I’ve never really been impressed with them on floor hopefully this year I can drink the Kool Aid the judges are drinking.

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