The University of Arkansas posted one of its lowest scores of the year with a 193.750 against Alabama in Southeastern Conference action last Friday. Bama’s score was its season-low with the Tide turning in a 194.800. The Gym’Backs return to action but break from SEC play traveling to Denver for the final regular season road meet of the year.
Arkansas junior Katie Hardman had a steady meet against Bama. The Buda, Texas, native threw a 9.70 on bars, a 9.725 on beam and a 9.70 on floor last Friday.
The Gym’Backs have steadily had a pair of athletes compete for the all-around title this year in junior Dana McQuillin and freshman Samantha Cortez. McQuillin did not vault last week but could return to the four-event rotation this week. Cortez has competed for the all-around title in all but one meet (Washington tri-meet) this year.
How Tough Were Scores?
The Gym’Backs posted its lowest score of the year against Alabama, the lowest score since the first season of gymnastics (2003) and its fourth lowest total in program history with a 193.750 against the Tide. The Gym’Backs highest individual score in the meet was a 9.825 from sophomore Cassie Drew on the bars. Arkansas had three 9.8s with all other scores below that mark.
But I Didn’t Fall
Once again, the Gym’Backs did not count a fall against the Crimson Tide. Although scores were low, both the Gym’Backs and the Tide stayed on the equipment.
If You Build It…
They have been coming. Gym’Back fans stepped up with the largest attendance this year with 4,617 fans through the turnstiles. Arkansas has ranked fourth in the nation in the previous two seasons for attendance but numbers have been down this year due to inclement weather on meet nights.
The End Of The Road
The Gym’Backs’ meet at Denver is the final road dual meet of the regular season. Arkansas opened the year with three in a row away from home and had five of its first six meets on the road.
Not The End Of The Season
Despite facing the final dual meet on the road this weekend, the Gym’Backs still have to travel to the Southeastern Conference Championships in Duluth, Ga., and to a Regional site that is still to be determined.
More At Home
Arkansas has a pair of home meets remaining on the season. The Gym’Backs host Missouri March 13, followed by the first quad of the year against Nebraska, Oregon State and UCLA March 19.
End Of The SEC Season
The meet with Alabama was the final meet against a Southeastern Conference opponent this year. Arkansas will meet all six other league teams at the SEC Championship March 26, in Duluth, Ga.
The University of Denver improved to 9-6 on the year after a third-place showing at a Nebraska quad meet Sunday. The Pioneers faced a pair of SEC foes, edging Auburn and falling to Kentucky. The host Huskers won the meet. Denver’s Sasha Sullivan notched a 9.9 on the floor for a third-place finish while teammate Courtney Butler tied for the individual win in bars wit a 9.875.
Arkansas Versus Denver
The Gym’Backs are 0-1 against the Pioneers in the program’s history. Arkansas hosted Denver in the first season (2003), falling 196.425-193.00.
Speaking Of The Schedule
Arkansas took on one of the countries top schedules this year facing five teams who reached the NCAA Championships and 12 of the 14 opponents participated in an NCAA Regional last season.
What About This Year?
Last year’s success is great but how are those opponents doing this year? Glad you asked. This week, LSU, who finishing first at the 2004 Central Regional and forth in Session 2 at the Championships, is ranked second in the country. Nebraska, a team Arkansas hosts in three weeks, jumped to No. 1 followed by No. 4 UCLA, whom the Gym’Backs also host at the Quad meet. SEC foes Florida, Alabama and Georgia are ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, Oregon State is No. 11 while this week’s opponent, Denver, is No. 12. Kentucky sailed ahead to No. 16, followed by No. 19 Minnesota and No. 20 Auburn. Washington checks in at No. 22 and rounds out the list of ranked opponents for the Gym’Backs.
Machnik Records Personal Bests
Freshman Mallory Machnik recorded season/career bests on both the vault and floor against No. 4 Florida. The Monroe, La., native notched a 9.90 on vault tying the school record and finishing second on the event. She equaled that score on the floor winning her first individual title as a Gym’Back.
McQuillin Has Season Best
Junior Dana McQuillin recorded a season best 39.100 in the all-around competition against No. 4 Florida finishing tied for third overall. She tied three season bests including a 9.750 on bars, a 9.850 on beam and a 9.80 on floor.
Vaulting Into The Lead
Arkansas enjoyed a season-best and tied the program-best on the vault against No. 4 Florida. The Gym’Backs posted a 49.075 on the event and scored 49.00 or better on three of the four events.
9.90s Come In Groups
Arkansas posted a pair of 9.90s, both on the vault, against the Gators. Freshmen Samantha Cortez and Mallory Machnik each reached that score becoming the second and third athletes of the year to post that mark. Junior Katie Hardman recorded a 9.90 on beam at No. 4 LSU earlier this year.
Arkansas gymnastics goes multimedia this season when the Gym’Backs offer their meets online. Three of the five home meets will be available pay-per-view on LADYBACKS.COM while two events will air free of charge. In addition Arkansas is packaging athlete routines and will display some of that video on each athlete’s bio page in the weeks to come.
The Friendly Confines
Arkansas began the season with three consecutive road meets and five of the first six meets were away from home. But the Gym’Backs wrap up the season with four of their final five at home. Arkansas was 8-6 in Barnhill Arena in the first two seasons of action and is 0-3 this year for an 8-9 all-time mark.
This Week In The Poll
Arkansas fell a couple of spots in this weeks national poll to 13th overall. The Gym’Backs spent two weeks at No. 11 and have fluttered between No. 11 and No. 15 much of the season. Part of the reason for Arkansas’ small tumble is the inclusion of Alabama who was absent from the poll last week due to a clerical error. Arkansas’ low home score against the Crimson Tide also lowered the Gym’Backs’ RQS a bit this week.
About The Poll
Arkansas has been in and out of the poll in various spots the first two seasons finishing last year ranked 20th overall. The Gym’Backs entered 2005 ranked 24th in the preseason poll and have climbed as high as No. 11 this year.
More About The Poll
Unlike other collegiate athletic rankings, collegiate gymnastic rankings are not based on wins and losses or votes. Gymnastic teams are ranked by their meet scores alone. Teams are ranked by their highest score from Jan. 10-17. From Jan. 24-Feb. 14, teams will be ranked by their season average. Starting Feb. 21, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). An RQS is based on a team’s top six regular-season scores, with three scores coming from away meets. To obtain the RQS, the team’s or gymnast’s highest score is dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged.
Holding On In The South Central Region
Arkansas ranks third this week in the South Central Region poll. The Gym’Backs trail both Nebraska and Oklahoma but are just ahead of Arizona and Arizona State.