Gym’Backs Record Record-Setting Near Miss Against Georgia
The 12th-ranked University of Arkansas recorded seven season bests and two career bests in a near miss against No. 6 Georgia in Southeastern Conference gymnastics action in Barnhill Arena Friday. Georgia (8-0, 3-0 SEC) edged Arkansas (3-1, 2-1 SEC) 195.300-195.150 handing the Gym’Backs their first conference loss of the year while the Gym Dogs remain unbeaten. Arkansas got season-bests on vault from Cassie Drew, Dana McQuillin, Mallory Machnik and Samantha Cortez while posting a 48.775 as a team, also a season-best. The successful scores continued on bars with Katie Hardman and Melissa Leigh each scoring a 9.8. Leigh’s mark was a personal best while Cortez added a career mark with a 9.775 on beam. Cortez finished third on the all-around scoring a 38.850. McQuillin posted a 38.450.
Better Each Week
Arkansas has continued to improve each week, both in terms of individual and team scores. As a team, the Gym’Backs began the year with a 48.40 on vault at Minnesota, scored 48.45 at No. 10 Kentucky and tallied a 48.775 against No. 6 Georgia last week. The Gym’Backs matched a season-best 48.80 on beam against No. 6 Georgia and were just shy with a 48.950 on floor last week. The team score of 195.150 was also a season-best.
Season Highs For Cortez
Freshman Samantha Cortez posted several season and career bests against No. 6 Georgia Friday. The Verona, N.J., native tallied a 9.8 on vault, a 9.775 on beam and a 38.850 on the all-around in Arkansas’ near-miss.
Freshman Mallory Machnik may have had one of the biggest margins of improvement Friday with a season and career-best 9.825 on the floor exercise against the Gym Dogs. That mark bettered her previous best of 9.775 by .050.
Freshman Emily Peacock did match Machnik’s margin with the same spread on the same event. Peacock had a season/career best 9.775 on the fx and posted a 9.825 on the event Friday.
Three In A Row
The Gym’Backs made it three in a row with a slim victory over No. 12 Auburn Jan. 21. Arkansas has stepped up to the challenge with three road wins as well downing Minnesota, No. 10 Kentucky and No. 12 Auburn all in the visitor’s home gyms to open the year.
To Start The Season
Arkansas opened 2005 with a 3-0 record and a 2-0 start in Southeastern Conference action. The Gym’Backs were 0-4 in the first four meets in the inaugural season in 2003 and started 5-0 and 2-0 in the SEC last year. Last season, the Gym’Backs won a season-opening quad and defeated No. 23 Kentucky and No. 29 Auburn in Barnhill Arena.
Arkansas’ meet at Auburn was televised on a tape-delay basis last week. The Gym’Backs and the Tigers’ meet airs Saturday, Jan. 29, at 4:00 p.m. on FSN (FOX Sports Network South, Southwest and Sunshine Network). See the complete SEC TV schedule located in the gray box in this release.
TV Part II
Arkansas’ meet at LSU is slated to air on COX. Details are still forthcoming.
Arkansas gymnastics goes multi-media 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 finally competed at home in Barnhill Arena hosting Georgia. The meet was one of five home events with Gym’Backs welcoming Florida, Alabama, Missouri and hosting a quad this year. Arkansas was 8-6 in Barnhill Arena in the first two seasons of action and 0-1 this year for an 8-7 all-time mark.
On The Road – Again
The Gym’Backs return to the road this week for a Southeastern Conference challenge at No. 4 LSU. It is the fourth road meet in five events on the road for Arkansas this year. Next week marks number five with the Gym’Backs taking part in their first quad of the year traveling to Washington to face the Huskies, Seattle-Pacific and Oregon State.
In a stellar performance on every event, the No. 7 LSU gymnastics team (3-3, 1-1) scored a season-high 197.250 to defeat No. 15 Michigan State (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten) by a convincing 5.8-point margin at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center last week. The Tigers swept the top three places in every event, and for the second straight meet junior April Burkholder took the all-around title with a 39.500, marking the 13th victory of her career. Burkholder and Nicki Butler each won two individual event titles as well. Seven performances tied or bettered season-highs and five tied or bettered career-highs, including Lisa Rennie’s 9.950 on the balance beam.
Arkansas Versus LSU
Arkansas has yet to defeat the Tigers in two seasons of gymnastics. LSU has defeated Arkansas in four different gyms including the PMAC, Barnhill and at the SEC meet in Birmingham, Ala., and again in Duluth, Ga. Arkansas’ closest margin came in Fayetteville last year where the Gym’Backs fell 196.775-195.450 to a 14th-ranked Tiger team.
More About The Tigers
LSU is ranked fourth this week in the gymnastics poll. They are in the top 12 on each individual apparatus ranking second on floor, fourth on bars, seventh on vault and 12th on beam. Tiger April Burkholder ranks 23rd in the country on the all-around averaging 39.10 with a season-best 39.575.
What About Arkansas
Arkansas continues to hold its own in the poll. The Gym’Backs are 13th this week in a poll that now ranks teams by their season average. Arkansas is eighth in the country on beam this week. The Gym’Backs rank 12th on bars, 16th on floor and 28th on vault this year.
Drew Me A Picture
Sophomore Cassie Drew is the lone individual Gym’Back to rank in the nation’s top 25 on an individual event. Drew stands at number 21 on the beam with a 9.819 average and a 9.825 high score this year.
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. 12 this year. The Gym’Backs slip one spot to No. 13 as the poll moves into its second phase ranking teams by season average instead of high score. Arkansas’ highest appearance in the poll was at the No. 11 spot one week last season.
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.
SEC Dominates Poll
The Southeastern Conference continues to rank as one of the toughest conferences for women’s gymnastics in the country. The Tigers are the top league team this week checking in at the No. 4 spot. Florida is ranked fifth followed by No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Georgia, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 15 Auburn and No. 18 Kentucky this week. In addition, all seven teams rank in the top 30 on each apparatus as well. Alabama peaks at No. 1 on the floor while LSU is No. 2 on the floor.
Peacock Struts In Arkansas Wins
Freshman Emily Peacock has been a solid contributor for Arkansas in the first three meets. The San Antonio, Texas, native has competed on three of the four apparatus this year winning the beam title at Minnesota and notching a bars victory at No. 12 Auburn.
Hardman Does Well At Auburn
Junior Katie Hardman had a solid meet at No. 12 Auburn winning the beam title with a season-best 9.850. Arkansas finished tied for third on bars with a 9.750 and scored a 9.775 on floor rounding out her performance.
Captain, My Captain
This year’s captains are juniors Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin. The honor is the second for McLeod (2003 and 2005) and the third for McQuillin (2003, 2004, 2005).
Speaking Of The Captain
Junior co-captain Hannah McLeod missed the last three meets at Kentucky, Auburn and against Georgia after spraining her ankle in practice. She is possible for LSU and will travel with the team. Some of Arkansas’ other injuries include Jamie Barnett and Kim Harris. Both athletes continue to recover and gain strength after injuries and illness suffered last year. Finally, Kathy Thompson is out for the year with a torn Achilles Tendon.