Courtesy: Athletic Communications
Mark Cook has guided the Razorbacks from their infancy through their first 10 years of existence and built one of the dominant programs in the nation. Cook and Arkansas marked their 10-year anniversary in 2012 and had a lot to celebrate - including their ninth NCAA Regional appearance, sixth NCAA Championship appearance, second trip to the Super Six in four years, eighth consecutive top 15 final ranking and third top 10 finish in the last four years.
In 2003, the first year Arkansas fielded a team, the Razorbacks finished 41st in the final national rankings. In 2004, the Razorbacks earned a spot in an NCAA Regional for the first time and haven't missed the postseason since. In 2005, Arkansas finished 15th in the final rankings and haven't finished lower than 13th since. In 2006, the Razorbacks reached the NCAA Championships for the first time and have been back the last five years.
Even with that sustained success, Arkansas reached new heights in 2012. In its 10th season, Arkansas earned its first No. 1 national ranking, earned its first event No. 1 ranking (bars), and had individuals ranked No. 1 in the all-around, on floor and on bars for the first time. Arkansas hosted an NCAA Regional for the third time and advanced to the NCAA Championship in Duluth, Ga. The Razorbacks, who beat 15 teams ranked in the top 25, finished third in the Session II semifinal to advance to the Super Six and finished sixth in the country for Arkansas' second-best finish ever.
Four Razorbacks (Jaime Pisani, Katherine Grable, Stephani Canizaro and Bailee Zumwalde) combined for eight All-America honors, giving Arkansas 36 selections in its 10 years. Two Razorbacks, Pisani and Grable, advanced to the NCAA event finals, giving Arkansas 16 total appearances.
Cook, an SEC and NCAA South Central Regional Coach of the Year honoree, focuses on the vault and bars events. Arkansas has ranked in the top 25 in both each of the last six years, including tying for No. 6 on vault and No. 7 on bars in 2012.
Cook coached Mariah Howdeshell to Arkansas' first No. 1 ranking on bars (three weeks) and Katherine Grable to the school's first No. 1 national ranking in the all-around (two weeks). Jaime Pisani later reached No. 1 in the AA for four rankings periods. Pisani, who won 35 individual event titles, finished third in the nation in the all-around, ninth on floor and 12th on beam. Grable finished sixth on beam.
Pisani earned four All-America honors to end her career with a school-record 13, and became Arkansas' first SEC Gymnast of the Year.
Cook has coached five different Razorbacks to eight All-America honors on vault, three to five honors on bars and three to five honors in the all-around. Of those 18 All-America honors, nine have been first-team. He has also guided four Razorbacks into six appearances in the NCAA individual event finals with three top five finishes.
In 2011, Arkansas recorded its third-best finish ever. The Razorbacks won the NCAA North Central Regional, beating No. 1 Florida for the title. Arkansas tied for fourth in the NCAA Session I Semifinal to tie for ninth in the country and missed advancing to the Super Six by one spot. Cook's team also beat top-ranked Florida during the regular season, recorded its first-ever win over Georgia, which was ranked No. 4 at the time, tied for the SEC regular-season title, had 11 wins over teams ranked in the top 25, beat LSU in Baton Rouge for the first time, set school records with seven dual meet wins and four wins on the road, and set school records with five SEC wins and three SEC road wins.
Individually, Pisani, Grable, Amy Borsellino and Kelci Lewis and combined for seven All-America honors. Borsellino earned her first All-America honor as a first-teamer on vault while Grable made the second team.
Pisani won 28 individual event titles, finished ranked No. 3 in the nation on floor and No. 5 in the all-around. In the NCAA event finals, she tied for fifth on floor. Grable ended the year ranked No. 16 in the all-around, and tied for ninth on floor in the event finals. Borsellino placed 15th in the finals on vault.
In addition, Pisani became the first Razorback to earn South Central Regional Gymnast of the Year honors and departed senior Michelle Stout was named the SEC's co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
In 2010, Arkansas was ranked seventh at the end of the regular season and finished No. 11 in the nation after nationals. Arkansas finished second in the NCAA West Regional, led the SEC in team grade point average and ranked No. 16 in the country, set school records for overall team score and on bars, recorded five of the top eight overall team scores in program history and had wins over eight top 25 ranked opponents. Arkansas ranked No. 11 on vault and No. 13 on bars.
Cook helped guide senior Casey Jo Magee and Pisani to All-America status at the 2010 national championship. The pair combined for six appearances in the NCAA individual event finals. Magee was second in the nation in the all-around, the highest finish ever for a Razorback, and fourth on beam, tied for fifth on bars and 12th on floor. Pisani was 10th on floor and 12th on vault.
In 2009, Arkansas advanced to the NCAA Super Six for the first time, had a national fifth-place finish and a final ranking of No. 5, won the NCAA South Central Regional and recorded wins over No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Utah, No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 LSU, No. 6 Oregon State, No. 7 UCLA, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 9 Alabama. Arkansas' No. 5 final team ranking included a No. 6 ranking on vault and a No. 10 finish on bars.
Stout was a first-team All-American on vault and bars, and Magee and Pisani were second-team All-Americans on vault.
In 2008, Arkansas had wins over No. 6 Alabama, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 9 UCLA, No. 12 Penn State and No. 14 Auburn. Arkansas finished second in the NCAA North Central Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championship. Arkansas finished the year ranked No. 10 in the nation, including No. 11 on vault and No. 14 on bars.
Stout was a first-team All-American on vault, and Magee a second-team All-American on vault and bars.
Cook has coached eight All-Southeastern Conference selections, 12 SEC gymnasts of the week picks, eight SEC Community Service Team members, 78 SEC academic team selections, 67 NACGC/W Academic Scholar-Athletes and 10 All-Americans to 36 honors.
In addition, the 2010 and 2011 squads both earned public recognition from the NCAA for ranking among the top 10 percent nationally in multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR). The 2010 honor was the first for an SEC program since 2006.
STARTING A PROGRAM
Arkansas' first team, an all-freshman lineup in 2003, finished its inaugural season ranked No. 41 in the nation with No. 37 and No. 43 rankings on bars and vault, respectively.
In 2004, Arkansas earned an NCAA Regional appearance and a top 20 national ranking (No. 20) in just the second season in program history. In addition, the Razorbacks had their first all-conference athlete in Melissa Leigh on bars. Arkansas was No. 24 in the nation on bars and No. 32 on vault.
The 2005 team also advanced to a regional and finished with an overall ranking of No. 26. The Razorbacks were No. 18 on bars and No. 27 on vault.
In 2006, the first recruiting class in school history helped Arkansas upset No. 9 UCLA in the NCAA South Central Regional, took the Razorbacks to their first NCAA Championship and ended the year ranked No. 12. Arkansas was No. 20 on both vault and bars.
PRIOR TO ARKANSAS
Prior to Stanford, Cook helped build NCAA and Pac-10 champions at UCLA as an assistant coach from 1995-97. During Cook's three years at UCLA, the Bruins won two Pac-10 titles, three NCAA Regional championships and their first NCAA Championship (1997). Cook's work led to UCLA moving from fourth at NCAAs the season he arrived in 1995 to national runner-up in 1996 before taking the team title in 1997.
Before moving into the collegiate coaching ranks, Cook was considered one of the top club coaches in the country. Serving as the head coach for Clovis (Calif.) Academy of Gymnastics from 1980-94, Cook helped build Clovis into a 900-student club. He produced numerous level 10 gymnasts, had athletes qualify for the USA Junior Olympic National Team and produced several elite gymnasts who competed at US Classics and USA Championships. In his final two years at Clovis, Cook also served as the academy director. Cook was named the Elite Coach of the Year by the United States Elite Coaches Association in 1989.
Individual honors include induction into the Diablo Valley (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) College Hall of Fame, where he competed as a gymnast from 1972-74, in 2010; 2009 NCAA South Central Region co-Head Coach of the Year, 2008 SEC co-Head Coach of the Year, and 2001 Pac-10 and NCAA West Region Head Coach of the Year awards.
AS HEAD COACH
At Stanford (1998-2003)
At Arkansas (2003-present)