LIVE BLOG: No. 8 Auburn at No. 15 Arkansas

The big story tonight is the freshman class for both these up and coming programs. Arkansas had a record breaking 2021 season, and adds one of the best freshman classes in program history. The highly anticipated debut of athletes Leah Smith, Cami Weaver, and Kalyxta Gamiao has been delayed because of COVID-19 precautions that took them out of last weeks competition against Ohio State. Meanwhile, Auburn’s gymnastics team features 2021 Olympic all around champion Sunisa Lee. Lee competed on bars and beam in her debut, but there’s a chance to see her on floor in tonight’s competition. Classmates Sophia Groth and Sara Hubbard also bring in dynamic gymnastics. Hubbard competes a Yurchenko one and a half on vault while Groth has a triple series on beam to look out for. This meet highlights the stars of tomorrow in NCAA gym, and is sure to be a fierce battle between the two programs. 

Looks like we will get to see Leah Smith make her debut for Arkansas tonight. Smith is the reigning Nastia Liukin Cup Champion and is expected to be an all around competitor for the Razorbacks. 

Looks like the feed is running on a delay here.

Sunisa Lee is expected to make her NCAA floor debut tonight and Leah Smith is projected in the all around. 

Rotation 1: Arkansas VT, Auburn UB

Pennese (Ark): Yfull; slight pike down at the end. Great landing. 9.775

Sabados (Auburn): overarches the first handstand; Tkatchev, flexed feet and hits her stomach on the bar, never seen that one in competition before. She comes off the bars, but remounts to continue. Repeats the skill. bail to handstand, shaky. leg separation in her DLO dismount. Remainder of the Auburn lineup is under pressure to hit now. 8.925

L. Smith (Ark): YFull; nice distance, takes a hop back. 9.800

P. Smith (Auburn): Maloney to pak, slight leg separation. A tad short on all the handstands. Great DLO dismount. 9.900

Elswick (Ark): One of the most underrated vaulters in the SEC. Yfull; hop back on landing. 9.900

Stevens (Auburn): Short on handstands, Nice amplitude on Tkatchev, some form issues throughout, DLO, piked down and a hop. 9.800

Sedlacek (Ark): Y1.5; good distance. Hop forward on landing. 9.800

Brusch (Auburn): bail, nice form, pak, short on handstands, DLO with a small bounce back. 9.900

Weaver (Ark): Y1.5, under rotates it and that was a super scary landing with a hyperextended knee and crunched ankles. She’s down on the ground and being attended too. 9.300

Gobourne (Auburn): Missed the first half, but ends with a beautiful stuck FTDT. 9.850

Hambrick (Ark): Y1.5, great block. Over rotates and has a huge two step forwards. 9.775

Lee (Auburn): Takes out the jaeger from last week. Pak to handstand. perfect VL, FTDT, stuck. 9.950

AFTER ONE: Auburn 49.400, Arkansas 49.050

Auburn handled the leadoff fall exceptionally well and was able to pull off a 49.400 to start off its night. Lee was the highlight of the rotation with her gorgeous execution. Simplifying the routine was a smart choice for increased consistency and removal of deduction opportunities. Arkansas was able to hit over 49.000, but won’t be thrilled with that rotation. The injury to Weaver was unsettling, but there’s three rotations left.

Rotation 2: Auburn VT, Arkansas UB

Groth (Auburn): Y full; huge vault and a great stuck landing. 9.875

My apologies.. my feed froze and I missed Arkansas’ leadoff bar performer. It was Jensen Scalzo with a huge score of a 9.900 in the leadoff position. 

McLaughlin (Auburn): Full-on tuck off, did not expect that one tonight, hop back on landing. 9.775

Sedlacek (Ark): Maloney, Pak, VL, stuck FTDT. 9.700

Stevens (Auburn): Y full; clean vault with a tiny hop back. 9.800

L. Smith (Ark): Nice handstand to start; Maloney to bail handstand; holds it off beautifully well, DLO dismount. 9.850

Hubbard (Auburn): Y 1.5; over-rotates it and takes large steps forward. 9.750

Hambrick (Ark): Good handstand to start, blind change piked jaeger to bail, FTDT dismount, stuck landing with a bend at the hips. Nice comeback routine. 9.925

Arkansas is having a great bar rotation so far. Scalzo led off with a 9.900.

Gobourne (Auburn): Y 1.5, hop on the landing. Fantastic amplitude as always. 9.875

Shaffer (Ark): Struggled last week with two falls on her Maloney. Mounts bars with a gorgeous handstand, maloney, nicely done, DLO, stuck. Fantastic routine. 9.925, well deserved score. 

Watson (Auburn): Y 1.5; knee bend in the air and takes a hop to the side. 9.825

O’Hara (Ark): tad short on first handstand; straddled Jaeger, bail, fabulous final handstand, DLO, legs glued together and gets the stuck landing. That’s a textbook DLO dismount. 9.950

AFTER TWO: Arkansas 98.600, Auburn 98.550

Arkansas decided to make last week’s weak rotation its strong suit tonight. The Razorbacks showed up on bars with stuck landings and hit handstands. The score is just .025 short of a program best. Auburn struggled with landings on vault, but it is still early on in the season.

Rotation 3: Arkansas BB, Auburn FX

Gianfagna (Ark): Bhs loso, nicely done. full turn, front toss, good,. RO 1.5, tiny hop forward. 9.825

Brusch (Auburn): Big double back to open, lacks flexibility on her leaps double pike to end. Just a two pass routine for now, but nicely done. 9.825

Lovett (Ark): wobbles on the full turn, front aerial to back loso, missed the connection last week but gets it tonight, gorgeous flexibility on her switch leap split jump, side aerial layout full, stuck landing. 9.900

Groth (Auburn): fhs double full, could have a tad more control on that landing, Back 1.5 to front lay, nicely done. Finishes with a Rudi. Lots of clean twisting in this routine. She’s going to fly under the radar this season, but keep an eye out on this talented freshman. 9.850

L. Smith (Ark): misses the leap connection with a wobble; bhs loso, balance check. A bit shaky on the beam. Ends with a double tuck dismount, hop back. 9.675

Stevens (Auburn): Front lay to Rudi, fabulous, The signature Stevens. I really like this music choice and choreography for her. Double tuck, squatty landing but pulls it off. 9.800

Hambrick (Ark): I am very here for her “I am Woman” background beam music. Slight wobble on the full turn, Bhs loso, switch split to switch half, good, cartwheel gainer full, stuck. 9.950

Lee (Auburn): The floor debut! Nice DLO to start.  A gasp worthy ring leap. Double wolf turn, well done,  1.5 to front full, short but handles it well. 9.875

Sedlacek (Ark): She’s in for the injured Weaver tonight. bhs layout,  significant wobble, Side somi, bhs lay 1.5. Shaky routine, but she manages to stay on. 9.750

Watson (Auburn): Season debut on floor. fantastic double Arabian. RO 1.5 to front lay, good. Ends with a nicely done double tuck. 9.850

Elswick (Ark): Bhs loso, a bit of a knee bend, split to split 3/4, front aerial, bhs lay 1.5 slight hop forward. 9.875

Gobourne (Auburn): Huge open double tuck, a tad too much power and does have to take a large step back. Her performance quality is unmatched. I swear I typed this sentence before Sam said it on the broadcast…wolf full. Fhs full to front lay, dances out if it, double pike, fabulous amplitude to end. 9.925

Auburn is going to drop a 9.800 floor score and thats an indicator of a fantastic floor rotation especially at this point in the season. 

AFTER THREE: Arkansas 147.900, Auburn 147.875

We have a tight one heading into the final rotation. Both teams have turned it up about five notches from last weeks debut performance. Arkansas gets to end on floor which was the team’s best event in 2021. Auburn will be ending on beam where Sunisa Lee, Aria Brusch, and Cassie Stevans have an opportunity to help propel the team to a win. 

Rotation 4: Auburn BB, Arkansas FX

I can feel the energy in the arena through my tv screen for this one. 

Hollingsworth (Auburn): full turn, nicely done. Bhs loso, tiniest of wobbles to the side, confident landings on her leaps. Side aerial to full, shuffle back on landing. 9.825

Pennese (Ark): Fhs double full, a bit under rotated but dances out of it. RO 1.5 to front lay, good, good amplitude on her switch side popa leap pass, ends with a nice double tuck. Career High 9.875

Brusch (Auburn): Front aerial to split, good. Bhs loso, solid, stuck  gainer full dismount. Great work on beam. 9.850

Hickey (Ark): One of the best double pike’s i’ve seen her compete, well done combination pass, nice leaps; low chest on final pass. 

Groth (Auburn): Bhs loso loso, as good as you can do it.  side aerial to full. stuck. Really impressive routine for her beam debut. 9.900

Shaffer (Ark): huge double pike, 1.5 to front full, nicely done. Lacks flexibility in her leap pass. Short on her double back and has to take a large step forward. 9.800

Stevens (Auburn): Bhs loso loso, well done, Split jump to double stag, to beat jump, solid, Stevens, slightly crooked, shaky wolf turn, stuck Back 1.5 dismount. 9.825

Hambrick (Ark): huge amplitude on her double tuck to open, has to take a few steps back. She’s definitely ready to throw an E pass in there. Lacks a bit of flexibility in her leaps, solid double pike to end. 9.875

McLaughlin (Auburn): switch leap Bhs loso, its always nice to see a change in combination series, Cat leap to side aerial, good, Switch leap to switch side, stuck gainer pike to end. 9.925

L. Smith (Ark): I’m really excited for this debut. piked full-in; had the amplitude but under rotates it and has to crunch forward on the landing,  great middle combination pass, ends with a wonderful double pike. 9.850.

Okay some of these Arkansas floor scores seem high in my opinion. 

Lee (Auburn): Double wolf turn, one of the few who can pull it off flawlessly. nice Front aerial, bhs loso, wonderful, Switch leap to switch half, Bhs side gainer. Great performances from Lee tonight. 9.875

Lovett (Ark): DLO, tad shy on her landing and also has to crunch forward. These short landings are causing Arkansas the meet. nice  double tuck; solid leaps; lay lay full, good end. 9.875


I’m not sure that’s going to be enough to overcome Auburn tonight. Arkansas had some under rotated tumbling passes that likely cost them the win tonight. Auburn had a fabulous showing on beam with freshmen Sophia Groth and Sunisa Lee along with sophomore Gabby McLaughlin. 

No matter the outcome in the standings, both teams had a much better showing than last week. Leah Smith is a future star for this Arkansas program and I’d expect her to have an even stronger performance next week with her debut under the wraps. Auburn was not an SEC favorite heading into the season, but the Tigers had a strong showing tonight and will certainly keep the SEC battle interesting.

An inquiry has been submitted, so this meet score is not finalized yet.

Final: Auburn 197.250, Arkansas 197.200

AA Winner: Kennedy Hambrick: 39.525

VT Winner: Amanda Elswick: 9.900

UB Winner: Sunisa Lee, Maggie O’Hara: 9.950

BB Winner: Kennedy Hambrick: 9.950

FX Winner: Derrian Gobourne: 9.925

Live Blog by Katie Walsh

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