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Highlight No. 3: Reaching NCAA Championship

12/21/2011
Robby Edwards, Athletic Media Relations
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The 2012 season marks the 10-year anniversary of the gymnastics program at the University of Arkansas. In nine seasons, the Razorbacks have qualified for an NCAA Regional each of the last eight years, winning championships in 2009 and 2011. Arkansas has advanced to the NCAA Championship five times, including the last four years. The program has finished in the top 10 three times, with a trip to the Super Six and a fifth-place finish in 2009, and finished in the top 15 seven straight years.

Individually, Razorbacks have earned 28 All-America honors and 13 appearances in the NCAA individual event finals. Academically, Arkansas led the SEC in team grade point average in 2010 and has ranked among the top 30 in the nation seven times. Razorbacks have earned 62 National Association for Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women Academic Scholar-Athlete and 69 SEC Academic Honor Roll honors. 

Four All-Americans return from the 2011 squad, which tied for the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, won the NCAA North Central Regional, tied for ninth in the nation, recorded two wins over No. 1-ranked Florida, beat No. 4 Georgia, and set school records with seven dual-meet wins and four road wins.

In honor of the anniversary, the inaugural team from 2003 will be in attendance and recognized during the meet against LSU on Jan. 20, in addition to other reunion events throughout the weekend. Season tickets are now on sale. To purchase, click on the link below.

Purchase Season Tickets

To highlight the success of the first nine seasons, we'll take a look back at significant moments in the program's history, in chronological order.

Highlight No. 3: NCAA Championship

 In 2003, 11 freshmen took a chance by competing for a start-up program in the Southeastern Conference, the toughest league in the nation.

Four years later, as seniors in 2006, Katie Hardman, Melissa Leigh, Audra Loveless, Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin were rewarded for their hard work by leading the Razorbacks into their first NCAA Championship.

"That was surreal," co-head coach Rene Cook says. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Did we just do that?' Our mindset going in was that was the last meet for our seniors. We wanted to finish strong. They had started in Barnhill and we thought they would finish in Barnhill. We got in the gym that week and started thinking maybe we can do this. The girls were crying and screaming after."  

Those seniors guided Arkansas to an NCAA Regional in 2004 and 2005, but 2006 was another breakthrough. Hosting the NCAA South Central Regional for the first time, the Razorbacks upset No. 9 UCLA and qualified for the NCAA Championship in Corvallis, Ore.

"I had been an assistant at UCLA and to knock them out and keep them out of the NCAA Championship for the first time in 17 years was bittersweet, but it was completely awesome," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "To work so hard and to have it happen is sometimes overpowering."

Sophomore Emily Peacock had a 9.825 on bars, a 9.775 on beam and a 9.85 on floor while junior Rachel Barnett also scored a 9.85 on floor.

Their performance helped the Razorbacks finish 12th in the nation.

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