Gym'Backs Fall Short

FAYETTEVILLE -- The judging in the Alabama-Arkansas gymnastics meet on Friday night left fans and coaches scratching their heads.

Alabama, a four-time national champion, won the meet with 194.800 points -- its second lowest score of the season. Arkansas was given 193.750 points -- its lowest score of the year.

"Did you guys understand that meet?" UA co-coach Mark Cook asked reporters afterwards.

Sarah Patterson, Alabama's longtime coach, said, "I'm not allowed to talk about officiating. It was consistent for both teams, but when you only have (one) 9.9 score, it's difficult to build a spectator base."

Actually, a crowd of 4,617 attended in Barnhill Arena -- Arkansas' largest home crowd of the season.

Terin Humphrey, an Alabama freshman from Bates, Mo., who won two silver medals in the Athens Olympics, won the all-around competition with 38.750 points and had the highest score on bars -- 9.85. But she slipped in her difficult floor exercise and was given a 9.250.

Shannon Hrozek of Alabama prevailed in the vault (9.90) and on the balance beam (9.85), while Arkansas freshman Mallory Machnik had the best floor exercise -- a 9.80.

Cook said, "We did very well on the vault and exceptionally well on bars. On beam we had some balance problems, but the scores were pretty severe. It's just the nature of the beast. With different panels, you get different interpretations."

Patterson said she had been worried about Arkansas ever since a big win over rival Georgia last week.

"Arkansas is a blueprint for how you start a team," she said. "To see what they've done in three years is remarkable. I knew they would be ready tonight, and I know my school will have to contend with them for a Southeastern Conference championship down the road."

Patterson said she told her team not to worry about the scoring, but she said, "They're thinking, 'Man, what did I do wrong?' It wears on them mentally."

Cook said Arkansas sophomore Cassie Drew, who reinjured her ankle while performing a 9.70 vault, "showed a lot of heart" by continuing to compete with pain and scoring 9.825 on the bars.

Cook said the Gym'Backs got a little tired and missed a couple of landings during the floor exercise. Rachel Barnett, Emily Peacock and Katie Hardman earned scores of 9.70 in the floor exercise for Arkansas.

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