Gymbacks set new overnight attendance record in Palace meet

By on January 15, 2022 0

It was a Friday night like no other as the Gymbacks staged a first-time fixture at Bud Walton Arena and broke the program’s attendance record with 10,345 fans.

The previous record was set at Barnhill Arena on January 17, 2020, in head coach Jordyn Wieber’s Arkansas home debut.

Wieber had set a goal of 10,000 fans for the game, but was extremely pleased with the performance of the Arkansas faithful.

“I knew 10,000m was a big goal, and that’s totally my style. But passing him was really amazing,” Wieber said. “I am so impressed with the support of our student-athletes and this program, and our athletic department for allowing us to have a meet at Bud Walton…not only the crowd, but the energy, the atmosphere . It was so special. Chills just thinking about it.

The Razorbacks were trailed by the Auburn Tigers by just half a tenth with a final score of 197.250-197.200. Despite the loss, Arkansas never scored more than 197 in the first two weeks of a season, and it was the sixth-highest team score in program history.

The Gymbacks posted 49-plus in each of the four events and beat Auburn on bars with a 49.550, tying for the second-highest bars score in program history.

Senior Kennedy Hambrick won his second all-around title in as many weeks with a score of 39.525 and also won the balance beam title with a 9.950. She finished second on floor (9.875) and third on bars (9.925). Rookie Leah Smith made her collegiate all-around debut and came in third with a score of 39.175.

Graduate student Maggie O’Hara scored a 9.950 on bars to share the title with Auburn freshman and Tokyo 2020 all-around champion Suni Lee, and senior Amanda Elswick posted a 9.900 on vault for the Crown.

To jump

Senior Savannah Pennese caused an immediate sensation as she stuck her full Yurchenko jump for a score of 9.775 to start Arkansas. Elswick jumped in 3rd place for the Gymbacks and delivered Arkansas’ first 9.900 of the season and what would be the highest jump score in the competition. Freshmen Leah Smith and Makie Sedlacek both scored 9.800 and the Gymbacks finished the first rotation with a score of 49.050.


Again, the start was big for Arkansas as Jensen Scalzo landed a 9.900 to start the second rotation and blocked his double layout dismount. Hambrick, graduate student Sarah Shaffer and O’Hara made up the second half of the lineup and all made their touchdowns three times in a row. O’Hara capped things off with a beautifully executed routine that earned a 10 from a judge and helped the Gymbacks reach their second-highest bar score of all time, 49.550.


Arkansas carried the momentum into the third rotation on balance beam, the Gymbacks had no score below 9.750. The range was highlighted by Hambrick, who nailed his back handspring-layout-step out series and stuck his gainer full dismount for a 9.950. Senior Bailey Lovett also put together a solid 9.90 routine that included a batting to tie in third on the night. The Gymbacks finished the balance beam with a total of 49.300 and held a slight advantage over Auburn going into the final rotation.


Pennese was first and blew her previous personal best with a 9.875 to start Arkansas off on the right foot. Every Gymback has gone on to score at least a 9.800, including Smith in his college floor debut with a 9.850. Hambrick added a 9.875 for the No. 4 spot and Lovett matched her as the anchor in the final routine of the historic night. Arkansas scored 49.300 on floor to maintain the second-longest active streak of 49+ on floor in 34 competitions, which is also a program record.


Arkansas begins its tour next week with a doubleheader at LSU on Friday, Jan. 21 in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 6 in the country. The meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on SEC Network.

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