FAYETTEVILLE - Following a week off, it's meet week for the 10th-ranked Razorback gymnastics team as Arkansas continues to prepare for Saturday's NCAA Regional in Barnhill Arena at 4 p.m.
The Razorbacks have earned a bid to an NCAA Regional for the ninth straight season, every year the program has existed with the exception of the first in 2003.
"You always look forward to starting the season and you're busy week after week, but you focus on the regional meet because in reality, that is the most important meet of the year, other than going to nationals," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "It's a long meet, and it's nice to have it at home."
The top two teams in the regional advance to the NCAA Championship and Arkansas is looking to move on for the sixth time, including the fifth straight year.
"Regionals are just a step in getting to the national championship," co-head coach Rene Cook says. "We're excited about hosting. It's nice to be home and we're excited about the teams that are coming in."
The field includes, in order of seeding, No. 3 UCLA, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 15 Boise State, No. 19 Missouri, No. 29 New Hampshire and No. 34 Maryland.
Arkansas last competed on March 24 at the SEC Championship where senior All-American Jaime Pisani won the beam title and was recognized as the program's first SEC Gymnast of the Year.
The Razorbacks have battled injuries the second half of the season. Junior all-arounder Jordan Salsberg is out for the year with a knee injury. Sophomore All-American Katherine Grable, who is still ranked fourth in the nation in the all-around, has missed the last three meets with an ankle injury. Junior All-American Kelci Lewis has missed all or most of the last three meets with an ankle injury.
"The week off gave us a breather," Mark says. "We haven't had a break for a while. We got a little more rest and staying home this weekend is good as well. Hopefully we'll get a couple kids back that have been out."
Grable may compete on bars and beam, and possibly floor, and Lewis could be back as well. She's competed on floor, vault and beam this season.
"We may get Katherine back on two and maybe three events," René says. "That will be great. She's a great competitor, she's solid, confident and talented. Kelci dinged her ankle at the SEC meet when she landed short on floor. We're hoping to rearrange her routine so she can be ready. The extra time has given her time to heal up."
Tickets for the regional are $10 for adults. The first 500 UA students will be admitted free with a valid university ID. For others, a $5 ticket is available for youth/students, everyone 18 and younger or with a valid UA student ID. A family plan is also available, including two adult and two youth tickets for $25.
Tickets can be purchased at the UA Ticket Center on Razorback Road, by calling 479-575-5151 or 800-982-4647, or online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.