FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks gymnast Amanda Wellick approaches tonight's home opener against No. 6 Kentucky with a big shot of confidence, not unlike any other meet in her star-studded career.
However, this will be the senior's first meet at Barnhill Arena since she tore her Achilles' tendon during warmups for the floor exercise before last year's home opener against Missouri.
Arkansas gymnastics vs. Kentucky
WHEN 7:01 p.m.
WHERE Barnhill Arena, Fayetteville
TICKETS Adults $5; 17-under $3; UA students w/ID free; Group (10 or more purchased 24 hours in advance) $2
RECORDS Kentucky 3-0, 0-0 SEC; Arkansas 0-1, 0-1
RANKINGS Kentucky is No. 6 (196.075); Arkansas is No. 11 (195.35)
EVENTS Vault: No. 7 Kentucky 48.975, No. 10 Arkansas 48.9; Bars: No. 10 Kentucky 48.875, No. 16 Arkansas 48.65; Beam: No. 2 Arkansas 49.15, 48.95; Floor: No. 5 Kentucky, No. 23 Arkansas 48.65
TOP ATHLETES (top 100)
All-around: No. 28 Jessica Yamzon (Ark) 38.95; No. 45 (tie) Mollie Korth (UK) 38.6; No. 64 Sarah Shaffer (Ark) 37.425
Vault: No. 14 (tie) Braie Speed (Ark), Sydney McGlone (Ark), Danaea Davis (UK), Korth (UK) 9.85; No. 25 Amanda Wellick (Ark) 9.825; No. 71 Aubree Rosa (UK) 9.775; No. 93 (tie) Sidney Dukes (UK), Katrina Coca (UK) 9.75
Bars: No. 14 (tie) Wellick (Ark), Cori Rechenmacher (UK) 9.85; No. 46 (tie) Sydney Laird (Ark), Ella Warren (UK) 9.8; No. 62 (tie) Katie Carlisle (UK) 9.775; No. 81 Speed (Ark), Coca (UK) 9.75.
Beam: No. 4 (tie) Sophia Carter (Ark); No. 11 (tie) Wellick (Ark) 9.875; No. 18 (tie) Alex Hyland (UK) 9.85; No. 28 (tie) Yamzon (Ark), Laird (Ark), Dukes (UK) 9.825; No. 45 Korth (UK) 9.8; No. 73 (tie) Katie Stuart (UK) 9.75; No. 94 (tie) Michaela Burton (Ark), Shaffer (Ark), Hailey Poland (UK) 9.725
Floor: No. 5 (tie) Dukes (UK) 9.9; No. 14 (tie) Hyland (UK) 9.875; No. 24 (tie) Korth (UK) 9.85; No. 38 (tie) Burton (Ark), Rechenmacher (UK), Poland (UK) 9.825; No. 95 (tie) Mia Bargiacchi (Ark) 9.75
Arkansas leads the series with Kentucky, 23-7. The Wildcats won both meets last year, with a 196.525 in a dual meet in Lexington, Ky., and a 196.625 at the SECs in Jacksonville, Fla. … The Razorbacks moved up eight spots to No. 11 in the rankings this week, while the Wildcats moved up five to No. 6. … Arkansas’ 49.15 on the beam last week at LSU was its highest since the 2015 NCAA Morgantown Regional. … The Razorbacks have two new assistant coaches, Garrett Griffeth and former Olympian Courtney McCool Griffeth, this season. … The Razorbacks are one of two SEC teams with six freshmen on their roster.
Wellick and the No. 11 Razorbacks host the Wildcats at 7:01 p.m. at Barnhill Arena.
An all-around competitor throughout her Arkansas career, Wellick scored 9.825 or better on the uneven bars, balance beam and vault in last week's loss at No. 1 LSU.
"Being a year out, I was pretty nervous for the last competition," Wellick said. "But now I'm getting back in the groove and it feels good."
Arkansas Coach Mark Cook is happy to have Wellick healthy and confident on three events.
"It was really inspiring to me to see her come back from the injury and just be so solid mentally," Cook said. "A physical injury is also a mental injury. She did everything perfect in the off season. We spaced her out, we trained her well and ... she's really focused."
Wellick, who has 30 event titles during her career, is not competing on the floor in the early season to reduce the strain on her Achilles, but might add the fourth event later in the year.
"Yeah, the coaches are going to pace me a lot to work in on floor," she said. "Just taking it day by day. Floor is my favorite, so if I get the opportunity I'm going to have fun doing it."
The Razorbacks will put up sophomore Jessica Yamzon and freshman Sarah Shaffer in the all-around, while Kentucky will have sophomore Mollie Korth in all four events.
Arkansas was strong on the balance beam at LSU with a team score of 49.15 that ranked second in the country on the opening weekend. The Razorbacks lost tenths with inconsistent handstands on the bars and by having a couple of gymnasts step out of bounds on the floor.
"We had a few errors here and there but we had some nice sets too," Cook said. "Some of the newbies, they have to be a little sharper. We need to stay in balance on the floor. We were a little excited on our tumbling passes and a couple of them went a little bit long.
"Handstands on bars, we got a little bit tight. We need to relax a little bit more and mark our positions."
Yamzon, the Razorbacks' first freshman all-around individual qualifier for the NCAAs last season, is looking to sharpen up after scoring no higher than 9.75 last week. Senior Braie Speed, an individual qualifier for the NCAAs in the vault last year, will be on that event and the bars.
The Razorbacks' top score last week came from freshman Sophia Carter, who scored a 9.9 on the beam and will perform on it and the floor.
Kentucky (3-0) scored an opening night school-record 196.075 last week to down Ball State, George Washington and Southeast Missouri State. The Wildcats were led by reigning SEC beam champion Alex Hyland, who won the event with a 9.85. Her teammates won the other three event titles, with Sidney Dukes claiming the floor exercise (9.9), Korth and Danaea Davis splitting the vault title (9.85), and Cori Rechenmacher sharing the bars (9.85) Ball State's Maddie MacDonald.
Sports on 01/12/2018
Print Headline: Wellick returns healthy, confident