LIVE BLOG: No. 7 Alabama at No. 6 Arkansas

This has the potential to be a really exciting and really close meet, y’all. Both Alabama and Arkansas had absolutely incredible performances last week, led by standout all around performances from Luisa Blanco and Kennedy Hambrick, respectively. The Crimson Tide notched a new program record with their score of 197.350, and Hambrick’s all around score of 39.750 was a program record as well. Not to be outdone, however, the Crimson Tide recorded their highest team score since Feb. 3, 2017, and both Luisa Blanco and Lexi Graber had outstanding all around performances as well.

Alabama has the higher score ceiling here, but Arkansas has been more consistent throughout the season. Keep an eye on Alabama’s vault lineup; last week it nailed all five of its 10.0 starts, and that could be the key to establishing a significant lead in the first half of the meet. Arkansas, currently ranked third in the nation on floor, has the potential to get a lot of those tenths back if the team hits like it did last week. Basically—this could go either way so make sure you have your snacks situated so you can pay attention.

Tonight is Arkansas’ Women’s Empowerment Meet, which is a lovely theme for a meet. I especially love that each gymnast gets the opportunity to highlight a woman who they personally look up to:

Rotation 1: Arkansas vault, Alabama bars

Pennese (ARK): FTY, good distance, flared out and a stuck landing. Piked down a bit, but a nice start. 

Waligora (ALA): Blind change to a straddle jaeger into an overshoot. Finishes with a FTDL, bounces a bit on the landing but keeps her feet in place. 9.900

Johnston (ARK): FTY, little pike down. Tries to hold the stick but takes a step and kind of tries to cover with a salute. 9.725

Graber (ALA): Big geinger, had some leg separation though. Bail to HS was good. Finishes with a FTDT, legs a little messy and a hop on the landing. 9.775

Olszewski (ARK): FTY, good distance, hop back. 9.775

Machado (ALA): Maloney to pak had some leg separation. Shaposh half looked fine. Finishes with a toe full into a double back, little shuffle on the landing. 9.800

Shaffer (ARK): Yurchenko half, straight body position in the air but takes a big step. 9.800

Adams (ALA): Great first HS, maloney to pak looked lovely, legs glued together. Shaposh half also looked good. Held that final HS. Toe full into a double back, fights to hold the landing but takes a small hop. 9.875

Elswick (ARK): FTY, had good body position and height, hop on the landing. 9.750

Blanco (ALA): Maloney to pak, slight leg separation on the pak. Great final HS. Finishes with a FTDT and a hop back. 9.850

Hambrick (ARK): Y1.5, lands with feet to far out and sits it down 9.275

Doggette (ALA): Big tkatchev into a pak, lovely. Short on the final HS, DLO dismount with a hop. 9.900

AFTER ONE: Alabama 49.325, Arkansas 48.850

Not the vault rotation Arkansas wanted to start with; that deficit will be a challenge to overcome. Mostly solid bar rotation for Alabama, they will be happy with that going into the second rotation. 

Side note: I love that Alabama has the Empowered Women shirts as well; this is one of my favorite theme meets of the season and its great to see both teams participate!

Rotation 2: Arkansas bars, Alabama vault

Gaskins (ALA): FTY, slight pike down and a hop back. 9.700

Lovett (ARK): Toe on tkatchev, catches a little close but otherwise nice. Bail to HS, short on the HS. A little slow on the blind full into an open double back, hop on the landing. 9.825 (broadcast is showing 9.775)

Olsen (ALA): DTY; not a lot of height. Pike down and a hop. 9.850

Gianfagna (ARK): Toe on tkatchev into an overshoot, nice form. Short final HS. FTDT, good landing. 9.850

Waligora (ALA): Y1.5, looked a little underrotated, step forward and to the side. 9.825

Rutz (Is this Scalzo?) (ARK): Blind change into a straddle jaeger into an overshoot, nice. Good final HS. Blind full to double back, stuck. 9.875

Blanco (ALA): Y1.5, small hop back. 9.900

Shaffer (ARK): Archy first HS but saves it. Maloney good. Bail to HS was a little short. DLO dismount, shuffles feet a bit on the landing. 9.825

Graber (ALA): Y1.5, bent knees in the air, under-rotated and takes a step back 9.775

Hambrick (ARK): Blind change piked jaeger into an overshoot – hip circle was definitely an error but it looked cool? FTDT, hop back. 9.725

Adams (ALA): FTY, some form issues in the air, big step back. 9.775

O’Hara (ARK): Beautiful first HS. Blind change straddle jaeger, lovely. Bail to HS great form on the HS. Floaty DLO and a stuck landing. 9.950

AFTER TWO: Alabama 98.450, Arkansas 98.175

Alabama manages to comfortably hold onto the lead after the second rotation, but Arkansas will surely make up a lot of ground once they get to floor. Hambrick seems to be having a bit of an off meet, hopefully she’ll be able to shake it off going into the back half of the meet. 

Rotation 3: Arkansas beam, Alabama floor

Gianfagna (ARK): BHS LOSO, solid. Cool presentation on her full turn. hitch kick front toss, good. Good control on her leaps. RO 1.5 dismount, good landing. 9.875

Mitchell (ALA): Opens with a big double pike, controlled step back. Switch leap, wolf full to wolf 1.5, good height. Front through to a double back, lands with very deep knees, looked a little under-rotated. 9.850

Lovett (ARK): Candle mount and comes out of it immediately, but stays on. I’ll be curious to see what the judges do with that. Switch leap split jump, good extension and height. Front aerial, wobbles out of it. Repeats the front aerial to connect into the back LOSO. Side aerial back full, sticks it. Overall shakier routine from Lovett than we’re used to seeing. 9.725

Gaskins (ALA): DLO to open, not a ton of amplitude but finds the landing. Pretty Y turn to wolf full. Switch leap switch half, good height. Punch front through to a double back, lands a little low. 9.875

O’Hara (ARK): Good full turn to start. Side aerial BHS, balance check but covers well. Split jump double stag, nice. Finishes with a cat leap side aerial back full, stuck landing. 9.875

Olsen (ALA): Opens with triple twist, little out of control on her landing. 1.5 through to a double full, some legs in the air. Finishes with a double pike, lands a little short and takes a step forward. 9.700

Shaffer (ARK): Switch straddle quarter, looked a little shy of 180 on the straddle. BHS LOSO, loses balance and comes off. Front aerial. Full turn, good. Finishes with a cat leap side aerial back full with a hop back. 9.300

Adams (ALA): Big double pike to open, good height. switch half to tuck full, good. RO 1.5 into front lay, lovely. Finishes with a double back, chest a tiny bit low but good landing. 9.825

Carter (ARK): BHS LOSO, good control. Beat jump double stag, lovely. Gets very high on her beat jump. Front aerial to sissone, nice. Full turn looked good. Finishes with side aerial back full, takes a decent sized step back. 9.825

Graber (ALA): Opens with a full-in, loses a little control in the landing but keeps it in bounds. Switch side wolf full, hard to tell if it was rotated enough from this angle. Front through to a big double pike to finish. 9.850

Hambrick (ARK): BHS LOSO, floaty and good control. Switch leap switch side, good. Beat jump straddle 3/4, good. She looks totally calm and collected. Cartwheel into gainer full, stuck landing. 9.950

Blanco (ALA): Opens with a double pike, beautiful form. Leaps looked lovely. Little short on her double back, finesses the landing though. Front full to front lay, solid. 9.875

AFTER THREE: Alabama 147.725, Arkansas 147.425

Slightly shaky beam rotation from Arkansas, with an absolutely lovely routine from Hambrick to finish things on a high note. Alabama had a mostly fine rotation on floor, however none of the scores broke into 9.9 territory.  Arkansas has the advantage going into the last rotation, though – they tend to put up big numbers on floor.

Looks like they raised Graber’s score to a 9.900

Rotation 4: Arkansas floor, Alabama beam

Klopfer (ALA): Wolf turn, good control. Front aerial BHS, good movement on the connection. Straddle half had good position. Cat leap into a side aerial, good. RO 1.5, good height – hop forward. 9.875

Johnston (ARK): Good double back to open, nice height and form. Whip half to a full, lovely form there too. Tour jete 1/2 popa, great form and control on the landing. Finishes with a double pike. This was great. 9.925

Waligora (ALA): Good full turn to start, almost looks like she overcooked it. BHS LOSO, great. Side aerial, good. Split jump tuck full, great height on the split. Finishes with RO 1.5, looks like she stuck it but had a pretty big lean forward. 9.925

Hickey (ARK): Good double pike to open, lots of height. Switch side popa, good straddle position. 1.5 to front lay, good. Finishes with a double back, good landing. Another solid routine. 9.875

Adams (ALA): Split leap front aerial to start, good. BHS LOSO, good height on the series. Double wolf. Switch to beat jump, good. BHS 1.5, tries to hold the stick but shuffles a bit. 9.875

Shaffer (ARK): Double pike to open, controlled lunge out of it. 1.5 to front lay, good form in the air. tour jete 1/2 to popa, nice. Great landing on her double back. 9.925

Graber (ALA): BHS LOSO to two feet, more of a piked position there. switch to straddle 3/4, balance check. cat leap front toss to scale, good. Gainer full dismount. 9.950

Lovett (ARK): DLO, so much height. Front lay front full, some leg separation but good otherwise. Finishes with a giant double back, good landing. 9.850

Doggette (ALA): BHS LOSO, good control, feet are a bit flexed. Beat jump switch side. Loses her footing on her side aerial into the dismount; she’ll repeat to make sure she gets credit. Side aerial back full, good landing. 9.250

She looked a little shaken after that, hopefully she’s okay. 

Hambrick (ARK): Big double back to open, great control on teh landing.FHS rudi layout double stag, little bouncy on the landing. Sticks her double pike to finish. 9.925

Blanco (ALA): Front aerial, good. Full turn showed good control. BHS LOSO with the most pointed toes of all time. Beautiful needle scale. switch leap switch side, good. Finishes with a RO double full, great height on that. Stuck the dismount. 9.925

Carter (ARK): Double back to start, pretty much sticks it. Little low on the front full in her second pass. Tour jete to split 1/1 looked good, kind of a weird camera angle. Finishes with a double pike, little loose on that back lunge. 9.925

FINAL: Alabama 197.325, Arkansas 197.000

All Around:

Vault: Blanco 9.900
Bars: O’Hara 9.950
Beam: Graber, Hambrick 9.950
Floor: Carter, Hambrick, Johnston, Shaffer 9.925

Live Blog by Kalley Leer

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