GYM’BACKS HOST NCAA SOUTH CENTRAL REGIONAL
April 8 will be a banner day in the history of Arkansas gymnastics. That’s the day Arkansas hosts the program’s first NCAA Regional Meet in Barnhill Arena. The four-year-old Gym’Back program welcomes No. 3 Florida, No. 9 UCLA, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Southeast Missouri State and individual gymnasts from Texas Woman’s University and Illinois State for a 6:00 p.m. meet in Barnhill.
ARKANSAS AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
The Gym’Backs were solid at the 2006 SEC Championship finishing sixth and just missing the number five spot that Auburn (194.975) captured. Sophomore Cassie Drew was the Gym’Backs best finisher on vault tying for sixth with a 9.80 and senior Katie Hardman tied for fifth overall on the balance beam with a 9.85 for Arkansas.
NICE TO PLACE BUT IT’S THE SCORE THAT MATTERS
Arkansas would have liked to place higher at the SEC Championship but more importantly than the team’s finish was the team’s score. The Gym’Backs posted a 194.65 to move the team up in the national rankings. That move to the No. 18 spot allowed Arkansas to be one of the 18 seeded teams at this week’s regional meet.
WIN/LOSS DOESN’T MATTER, BUT…
Although a gymnastics teams win/loss record is not important, most teams will tell you it is important to defend your home gym. Arkansas is 21-16 all-time in Barnhill Arena. The Gym’Backs are 4-9 at home against SEC opponents and 8-7 against non-conference foes. The Gym’Backs’ four SEC wins have come against Kentucky (twice) and Auburn (twice).
THREE IN A ROW
Arkansas’ string of three home wins in a row is the best in school history excluding a quad meet win (Arkansas had a pair of quad wins in 2004).
THE BEST HOME RECORD?
Not quite. Arkansas is 3-2 this year in Barnhill Arena with wins over Kentucky, Auburn and Washington. The Gym’Backs lost to Penn State and LSU in Barnhill. Arkansas’ record is the second home winning record in the four years but not the best in school history. Arkansas was 8-3 at home in 2004 – the year the Gym’Backs hosted a pair of quad meets. Arkansas could reach the eight-win home plateau again this year — if they win the 2006 NCAA South Central Regional Meet April 8.
LOOKING AT THE REGIONAL RANKINGS
Arkansas finished the regular season in the number six spot in the South Central Regional race – a position they held almost the entire year. The Gym’Backs faced the number three team in the region, Nebraska, in the Huskers’ home gym — a gym they’ve only lost once in during the last 14 seasons in dual meet action. Arkansas came away from the meet with a solid score, one that moved the team up a spot in the national standings but didn’t effect the Gym’Backs in the Regional numbers.
MORE ABOUT THE REGION
Talk about tough! Arkansas is in the South Central Region and is currently sixth in the standings but look who’s ahead of the Gym’Backs. Oklahoma is on top of the regional rankings and is ranked sixth in the country. They are followed by No. 11 Arizona State, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Missouri and No. 15 Arizona before you get to Arkansas at No. 18. The top six teams in the region were seeded at regional championships. In addition, Illinois, seventh in the region, is No. 30 in the country followed by No. 42 UIC, and No. 49 Southeast Missouri. Northern Illinois is ranked No. 48 but didn’t get a team bid while No. 50 TWU and No. 57 Illinois State both send individuals to the regional championship in Fayetteville.
GETTING BETTER EACH WEEK
Arkansas has held steady in each week’s polls. Check out the box to the right to see the Gym’Backs’ week-by-week progress.
SOME MORE NUMBERS
Florida enters the meet as the top-ranked team in the field on every event except bars where UCLA is the higher ranked team. Arkansas is a comfortable third on all of the events. Here’s a quick look at the numbers: