Three In A Row The Gym’Backs made it three in a row with a slim victory over No. 12 Auburn Friday. 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 Start The Season Arkansas opens 2005 with a 3-0 record and a 2-0 start in Southeastern Conference play. The Gym’Backs where 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.
TV Time 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 on the left of this page.
Multi-Media Arkansas gymnastics goes multi-media this week when the Gym’Backs offer their meet against No. 2 Georgia live on the internet. The meet is available as a pay-per-view event. Just point your browser to LADYBACKS.COM and sign up.
One of ThreeArkansas is one of three unbeaten teams in SEC action this week. The Gym’Backs and Gym Dogs are both 2-0 heading into Friday’s meet. Alabama is the other unbeaten at 1-0 in SEC meets.
The Friendly Confines Arkansas finally competes at home in Barnhill Arena. The first home meet sees the Gym’Backs welcome NCAA runner up Georgia Friday, Jan. 28, at 7:00 p.m. Arkansas is 8-6 all-time in Barnhill Arena in two seasons of action.
The Schedule Arkansas’ upcoming schedule includes No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 LSU, and three ranked teams (No. 22 Washington, No. 14 Oregon State and No. 44 Seattle Pacific) on the horizon.
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 to No. 12 this week. 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.
Scores Are Improving The Gym’Backs are currently ranked 12th in this week’s poll – a steady climb for the three-year-old program. Arkansas also continues to climb in the individual event rankings as well. The Gym’Backs opened the year at No. 17 on bars, moved up one to 16 and are now tied for 10th this week. Arkansas started seven after week on on beam and has maintained a tie for 10th on the event for the last two polls. Finally, Arkansas was 24th on floor after the first week and checks in at No. 22 this week. See the next page for the complete poll.
SEC Dominates Poll The Southeastern Conference continues to rank as one of the toughest conferences for women’s gymnastics in the country. Alabama leads the way and is ranked fourth this week, followed by No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Georgia and No. 7 LSU. Arkansas checks in at No. 12 followed by No. 13 Auburn and No. 18 Kentucky.
About GeorgiaThe sixth-ranked Georgia Gym Dogs defeated No. 17 Kentucky 195.85 – 193.325 at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. Georgia (7-0) won despite competing just five gymnasts on vault rather than the usual six. The Gym Dogs were without the services of freshman Audrey Bowers, who was out after suffering a sprained ankle at Wednesday’s team practice.
The Gym’Backs Against the Gym Dogs Arkansas is 0-4 lifetime against Georgia but the Gym’Backs have closed the gap with each meeting. Arkansas has never faced Georgia when they were ranked lower that fourth in the nation and the Gym’Backs’ best score against the Gym Dogs was a 195.250 scored in Athens, Jan. 30, 2004.
Georgia in the SEC The Gym Dogs have won 18 consecutive dual meets against SEC competition which is the second-longest stretch in Georgia history. The stretch began with a head-to-head victory over Auburn on Jan. 25, 2002 and includes back-toback 6-0 SEC regular seasons in 2003 and 2004. Georgia’s record for consecutive SEC dual-meet victories is 22 that lasted from 1991-1995.
Youth Strong for both teams Both the University of Arkansas and the University of Georgia have gotten good starts from freshmen gymnasts this year. Gym’Back Samanatha Cortez has competed for the all-around title in the first three meets while Emily Peacock has won a couple of individual titles already this year. Mallory Machnik has been strong on both the bars and floor for Arkansas. At the Super Six Challenge each Georgia freshman was in the lineup for 14 of the Gym Dogs’ 24 total routines. Last week against Auburn that number jumped to 15 total routines by the newcomers, including three all-arounds. The freshman class includes former World Championship medalists Katie Heenan and Sam Sheehan. Both Nikki Childs and Megan Dowlen were U.S. National Team members and Audrey Bowers was a two-time Level 10 national beam champ. Heenan and Bowers are the first Georgia freshmen to compete in the all-around in the first two meets of the season since Cory Fritzinger and Sierra Sapuanr in 2001.
Last Time against Georgia ATHENS, Ga. – Their first road test of the 2004 season proved to be a tall order for the University of Arkansas gymnastics team as they fell to No. 2 Georgia in Athens, Ga. The meet began with Georgia public address announcer Alan Tibbits inviting the Arkansas supporters to open the night by Calling the Hogs. That, however, is where the hospitality ended as the No. 11 Gym’Backs fell 197.300-195.250. Sophomore Katie Hardman provided one of the night’s highlights for Arkansas posting a school-record 9.900 on balance beam for the Gym’Backs. Hardman’s first tumbling pass was solid and her second was nearly flawless on floor as she got things started with a near season best of 9.850. Hardman’s 9.90 was a bright spot on the beam as was Cassie Drew’s personal best 9.850 for Arkansas on the beam. The Gym’Backs posted a school-record 49.175 on the beam with McQuillin adding a 9.850 for the Gym’Backs.
McQuillin Hitting Her Stride Junior Dana McQuillin has had a quiet year in the first three meets but continues to improve and gain confidence as the year continues. McQuillin posted a season-best 9.70 on floor last week at No. 12 Auburn.
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 last week.
Cortez The Center Of Attention Freshman Samantha Cortez has gotten the attention of Gym’Back opponents early in her career competing for the all-around title in the first three meets of the season. Cortez posted a career-best 38.275 at Minnesota and has improved in different areas with each meet.
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 bards with a 9.750 and scored a 9.775 on floor rounding out her performance.
Drew Me A Picture Sophomore Cassie Drew ranks tied for 25th this week on the balance beam. Drew’s 9.817 average on the beam this season leads the Gym’Backs.
NCAA Preview Arkansas got a look at the NCAA Championship site this week at Auburn. The Tigers host the championship meet April 21-23 in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
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 two meets at Kentucky and Auburn after spraining her ankle in practice. She is doubtful for Georgia but is expected to return for LSU. 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. Finnaly, Kathy Thompson is out for the year with a torn Achillis Tendon.