Welcome, y’all! SEC matchups are always interesting, and this one should be no exception as No. 14 Arkansas takes on No. 6 Alabama.
Hey, remember when the Tide finished fifth in the SEC last year and didn’t make nationals? Neither does it. Alabama started strong in 2020 and hasn’t looked back, going 197-plus twice so far this season (though it remains to be seen if it can break that threshold on the road).
The Razorbacks have been similarly impressive (or sizzling, if you will). Arkansas has gone 196.5-plus in five of six of its last meets and hasn’t dropped below 196 since its mediocre season opener at Florida. (For context, Arkansas didn’t break 196 until its fifth meet in 2019.)
These are two rebuilding SEC teams on the rise, and seeing them face off is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. While Alabama has the edge (particularly on vault, where it has two 10.0 SVs to Arkansas’s lineup of 9.95s), don’t count the Razorbacks out. Anything can—and frequently does—happen during an SEC matchup.
Rotation One: Alabama vault, Arkansas bars
My stream kicked in as Yamzon dismounted. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Burgess (Bama): 9.750
Yamzon (Ark): 9.775
Desch (Bama): Stuck Yurchenko full. Lovely! 9.850
Gianfagna (Ark): Really nice Ray. A little leg sep on the bail. Nice handstand positions throughout. Pretty FTDT with a small hop back. 9.800
Mahoney (Bama): Solid Yurchenko full with a hop. 9.850
Garner (Ark): Suuuch a pretty pirouette to Gienger. Excellent handstands and form throughout. Double tuck landed with chest down and has to take a step forward, but lovely overall. 9.750
Blanco (Bama): Yurchenko full. Wow. Honestly, if that doesn’t go 9.9-plus, not Y full should. 9.875, okay…
Lovett (Ark): Good height on her Tkatchev). Great handstand positions. A little off on her pirouette, but a fabulous stuck double tuck. 9.875
Olsen (Bama): One of her better Yurchenko doubles. College stick, but excellent vault. 9.875
Hambrick (Ark): Good piked Jaeger. Fantastic form and positions throughout. FTDT with a foot shuffle. 9.850
Graber (Bama): Stuck Yurchenko 1.5, opens and flairs the arms, very nice. Landed deep, but well done. 9.900
Laird (Ark): Ouch, comes off on her straddled Jaeger. Bends knees on her handstand, but hangs on. A little shy on the final handstand. DLO a touch low and has to step back.
AFTER ONE ROTATION: Alabama 49.350, Arkansas 39.050
Bama vault looks really good. Everyone’s getting the height and distance required to really nail the landings. Arkansas continues to get through bars without too many major mistakes (i.e., not having to count a fall or fall-equivalent scores), but also not leaving much room for error. They’re going to need to squeeze another couple of tenths out of this lineup to break into that next tier.
Rotation Two: Alabama bars, Arkansas vault
Gianfagna (Ark): Tons of distance and power on her Yurchenko full, but has to pike it down and take a large hop back. 9.650
Dickson (Bama): Great first handstand and bail. Tons of height on the Tkatchev. FTDT with minor legs and has to take a hop. Nice start. 9.825
Hickey (Ark): Very piked down Yurchenko full, a bit off center, and has to take a hop forward. 9.700
Childers (Bama): Maloney with some leg sep, good bail. Really nice handstand position. Blind change to back half, some legs but a stick. 9.850
Rogers (Ark): Missed her block, lands way close to the table on her Yurchenko full. Lots of pike-down and has to take a large step forward. 9.550
Graber (Bama): Gienger with leg sep, to shortish handstand. Perfect bail. Not a ton of height but lots of distance on FTDT dismount, has to take a step. 9.800
Shaffer (Ark): Lovely Yurchenko half. Good height, but not a ton of distance. Has to hop. 9.800
Givens (Bama): Doesn’t quite hit the first handstand. A little wonky on her blind change to straddled Jaeger. Waaay overarches her bail but saves it, taps her feet on the floor. Strong finish with a stuck DLO. 9.650
Hambrick (Ark): Really nice Yurchenko 1.5! Tons of height and distance, a little bit of soft knees and a small hop. 9.825
Mahoney (Bama): Hits her handstand positions. Good bail position. Very nice Tkatchev. HUGE FTDT, stuckish. 9.850
Elswick (Ark): Excellent Yurchenko full, small hop back. Great amplitude and distance, great form in the air. 9.850
Doggette (Bama): Flawless Tkatchev to Pak. A touch short on her last handstand. Beautiful DLO, with a shuffle and a college stick. 9.900
AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: Alabama 98.575, Arkansas 97.875
Arkansas’s vault rotation just about went off the rails; great job by the back half of the lineup for getting it back on track. Never mind landings, the Razorbacks have got to figure out how to consistently hit their blocks and avoid the whole pike-down/short landing situation altogether. As expected, the Tide was really good on bars. Whatever your opinion on the ethics of score building, Doggette in the anchor spot is a brilliant strategy!
Rotation Three: Alabama beam, Arkansas floor
Side note, Dana’s updo is amaaazing.
Burgess (Bama): Pretty kicked-out full turn. One-armed bhs, comes off on her loso. Hitch kick to straddle quarter. Switch split. Side aerial to stuck full. Too bad about the full, that was pretty fantastic otherwise. 9.00
Yamzon (Ark): Big double tuck to open, leans out of it. Double pike, right up to the line but I think she stayed in. Switch side, Popa, straddle half (?), good positions. Front lay to full, good. Strong start. 9.750
Gaskins (Bama): Candle mount, well done. Side aerial with a hip check, but works straight through to her beat. Overrotates her full turn, but. Switch quarter, good. Bhs loso with the slightest hip check. Switch split to split leap to straddle; maybe lot back leg (but it could just be the camera angle). Gainer full with a hop. 9.750
Gianfagna (Ark): Excellent double pike to open. One and a half to front lay, great. Switch split to wolf fulls, good positions. Underrotated the double tuck a smidge and has to take a hop forward, but overall very nice. 9.775
Olsen (Bama): Switch split to split jump, small check. Bhs loso with a hip check. I’m still not used to seeing her on beam. Front aerial with a leg up check. Bhs bhs double pike with a low chest and a step forward (but, come on, it’s a bhs bhs double pike!). 9.775
Hambrick (Ark): Kicks out of a big double tuck. Fhs Rudi back lay to double stag, awesome! Barani to some fun, weird choreo. Some leg sep in the double pike after missing her hand, but hangs on for a controlled landing, wow. 9.850
Klopfer (Bama): Wolf turn, good. Front aerial to bhs, great. Beat to straddle half, solid. Hitch kick to side aerial, very nice. Round-off one and a half, stuck. Love her facial expression, hahaha. “Did I just do that?!” 9.850
Shaffer (Ark): Ugh, steps out on a massive double pike. Slightly short on her double tuck, lands right on her toes and holds on. Switch full to Popa to Popa, good amplitude, a little janky on the landing. One and a half to front lay, good. Usable score, but not the big performance they wanted. 9.675
Blanco (Bama): Front aerial, lovely. Bhs loso with a foot slide, but even that’s pretty. Switch split to switch half, excellent. Big check on the full turn, does an extra quarter out of it to cover. Fabulous scale. Round-off double full with a step. 9.825
Lovett (Ark): Gigantic DLO, great. Front lay full, very nice. Switch full series, cheats it a little. Hugely huge double tuck, shuffles on the landing. There’s the big routine they needed. 9.925
Graber (Bama): Bhs layout, bounces off. Switch split to straddle 3/4, good. Glad that she’s still being aggressive. Hitch kick to Liukin. Stuck gainer full, well done. Again, such a lovely routine other than the fall. 9.325
Carter (Ark): Pretty double tuck, landed on her toes. Gah, just love watching her dance. Round-off one and a half to full, a touch low and has to bend her knees. Switch full series, good. Double pike, rocks back on her heels but covers well. 9.875
AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: Alabama 147.100, Arkansas 147.050
Like I said, anything can and will happen during an SEC meet! Arkansas was fine on floor, but didn’t knock it out of the park like they’re capable of doing. That doesn’t matter since the Tide squandered their lead by having to count a fall on beam. I’m choosing to believe it’s purely for dramatic purposes.
Rotation Four: Alabama floor, Arkansas beam
Yamzon (Ark): Bhs loso loso, small hip check and arm swim. Dances out of her full turn. Big check on the front toss. Beat to stuck gainer full. 9.674
James (Bama): Oh god… Face plants on her FTDT after getting no punch. SEC really needs to educate its camerapeople on how to film (or, rather, NOT FILM) injured athletes. 6.200
Gianfagna (Ark): Bhs loso with a leg up check. Hitch kick to front toss, excellent. Split jump to straddle quarter with a large leg bend. One and a half with a big hop. 9.525
Olsen (Bama): Fantastic stuck Silivas. One of the best we’ve seen from her. Switch full, Gogean, Popa, excellent. Front tuck through to double tuck, beautiful. Honestly, one of the best routines I’ve seen from her. 9.900
Lovett (Ark): Beautiful candle mount (I mean, for a candle mount). Switch split to split jump, well done. Front aerial to loso, solid. Piked gainer, stuck. Well done. 9.850
Mahoney (Bama): Powerful double tuck, hops out. Huge amplitude on leap series. Fhs front full front lay, has to bend the knees just a bit. Lovely double pike to close, stuck. Great routine. 9.925
Hambrick (Ark): Floaty bhs loso, little bit of knees. Switch split to switch half, good. Beat to straddle 3/4, small bend at the hip. Cartwheel gainer full with a stick. 9.875
Desch (Bama): Kicked out double pike, very nice. One and a half to front half to straddle to punch front, excellent. Stuck double tuck. Bama’s rollin’. 9.925
Carter (Ark): Bhs loso, love how she flairs the arms out on the loso. Front aerial, good. Switch split to sheep, a little more of a Sissone position than a horizontal. Such a pretty full turn. Side aerial to stuck full. 9.800
Graber (Bama): Popa, beautiful. FTDT, powerful. Side half, wolf full, very nice. Front tuck through to double pike, slide back. 9.925 is high compared to tonight’s other 9.925s
Elswick (Ark): Bhs loso, very nice. Switch split to switch 3/4 with a check. Beat to front aerial, some arm swim. Bhs one and a half with a step back. 9.850 is high
Klopfer (Bama): Double tuck a little short, has to step forward. Switch half to Popa, doesn’t quite hit 180. Round-off one and a half to full, good. Love her Thor’s hammer choreo. STUCK double pike, best pass of the routine. Great finish for the Tide. 9.850 is high, but we’ll allow it under the circumstances.
AFTER FOUR ROTATIONS: Alabama 196.625, Arkansas 196.100
Not huge scores for either team (which is fine, scoring was positively Puritanical by SEC standards), but that was a gutsy meet. Alabama should be very pleased by that rally after James’s injury.
Article by Claire Billman
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