FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 11 University of Arkansas gymnastics team is getting set to start the 2014 season and a run for the NCAA Championships for the eighth time in program history. In the second of a four-part preview series, Arkansas returns three gymnasts from the bars lineup in 2013, adds two newcomers and welcomes back a gymnast from an injury to the 2014 rotation.
The Razorbacks return senior All-American Katherine Grable
, senior Shelby Salmon
and sophomore Erin Freier
from the squad’s 2013 campaign. The trio of Razorbacks led a rotation that scored a 49.250 for a season high and sat atop the regional rankings for the whole season.
Arkansas will welcome the addition of junior transfer Cailee Ellsworth
from Texas Women’s University and freshman all-around competitor Amanda Wellick
. Finally, the Razorbacks will welcome back junior Stephani Canizaro
to the event after missing out on the 2013 season.
“On bars this season, despite losing some steady competitors, we have added some new and strong routines to our lineup,” co-head coach Mark Cook
said. “Having Amanda come into the lineup this year as a freshman will be a big help for us, she has a lot of good lines and some good skills in her routine. Another new edition this year, Cailee Ellsworth
, has really clean lines and swing in her routine and will probably lead us off. It is nice to have Stephani back, she has all of her skills back and we look forward for her to continue to build her confidence up. Erin and Shelby have been working on sharpening their routines and Katherine has made an improvement on her dismount. Overall, we will be really strong as a rotation”
Salmon and Freier each claimed event titles last season and will look to add more to their collection. Grable and Freier will look to improve their season highs of 9.875 and Salmon will anchor the rotation with a career best of 9.925. Previously, Canizaro set her career best of 9.825.
“I think our bar lineup is going to do very well this year,” junior Canizaro said. “We have a lot of big releases and nice dismounts. Practice has been going well to lead up to the season and as a rotation I think we will do well.”
Salmon will lead the Razorback newcomers Ellsworth and Wellick after setting her season best 9.90 three times in 2013, including in the quad meet victory over Southeastern Conference opponent Missouri.
“We have a strong bar lineup,” senior Salmon said. “We have the possibility of adding new routines throughout the season, but overall, I think we will be very consistent throughout the year.
The Razorbacks begin the season on Friday, Jan. 10, hosting Western Michigan and Bridgeport in Barnhill Arena. The season opener is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
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