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Arkansas Gymnastics Fact Sheet #13

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas Gymnastics Fact Sheet #13

CINDERELLA GOES TO THE BALLThe University of Arkansas surprised the field finishing second at the 2006 South Central Regional Championship April 8, upsetting ninth-ranked UCLA and earning the program’s first trip to the NCAA Championship. Arkansas travels to Corvallis, Ore., April 20-22, for the three-day event.ARKANSAS IS IN SESSION 2Teams were ranked according to their regional score and Arkansas opens the first day of competition with Georgia, Iowa State, host Oregon State, Florida and Arizona State. The Gym’Backs begin the meet on the floor and compete in nearly the same order they did for the Regional Championship. Arkansas opened with a bye before the floor at regionals and ends on the bye at nationals.HOW DOES THIS WORK?Twelve teams, two from each Regional Championship, compete at the NCAA Championship. There are two “meets” on Thursday. Session 1 begins at 1:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard) with Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan, Utah, LSU and Alabama. Session 2 with Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa State, Oregon State, Florida and Arizona State begins at 7:00 p.m. The top three teams from each session advance to Friday’s finals at 7:00 p.m. Saturday’s meet begins at 7:00 p.m. for individual events competitors.HOW FAR HAVE WE COME?Arkansas added gymnastics in 2001-02 hiring Mark and Rene Cook as co-head coaches. The Lady Razorback administration gave the Cooks a full season to recruit and build a practice facility before fielding the program’s first team in 2003. That inaugural team featured 11 freshmen, five of whom make up this year’s senior class.IT’S BEEN A LONG ROADThe inaugural class of gymnasts in 2003 took their first-ever road trip on Feb. 2, 2003, traveling to UCLA where the Bruins defeated Arkansas 198.175-193.475. Just three seasons later, Arkansas edged UCLA, 195.400-195.175, to advance to the program’s first NCAA Championship. Arkansas was just 5-14 overall and 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference that season. The Gym’Backs bettered their record to 11-14 in 2004, and 9-16 last year. The Gym’Backs are 12-15 in the 2006 season.

WHO ELSE IS GOING?Here’s a look at the other teams who have qualified for the 2006 NCAA Championship. They are:Central regional: (1) Oklahoma 196.375; (2) LSU 195.825West regional: (1) Alabama 196.475; (2) Oregon State 195.800 North Central regional: (1) Arizona State 196.675; (2) Iowa State 195.725Northeast regional: (1) Michigan 196.000; (2) Utah 195.700South Central regional: (1) Florida 196.375; (2) Arkansas 195.400Southeast regional: (1) Georgia 197.425; (2) Nebraska 196.350

Session 1, Thursday, April 20th, 1 p.m.Session 2, Thursday, April 20th, 7 p.m
OklahomaGeorgia
AlabamaArkansas
LSUArizona State
UtahFlorida
MichiganOregon State
NebraskaIowa State

Session 3, Friday, April 21st, 7 p.m.Team FinalsSession 4, Saturday, April 22nd, 7 p.m.Individual Event FinalsSO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A TOUGH CONFERENCE?The Southeastern Conference advanced five of the seven teams to the NCAA Championship so five of the 12 competing teams are from the SEC. In addition, the two teams who did not advance (Auburn and Kentucky) both have individuals who qualified.NO POLL THIS WEEKThat’s right. There is no new gymnastics poll this week. The poll will resume with a final poll after the national championship.HOW TOUGH WAS ARKANSAS REGION THIS YEAR?Four of the 12 teams reaching the NCAA Championship are from the South Central Region. In addition to Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona State and Nebraska all got in. The Gym’Backs suffered a mid-season loss at Missouri and both the Tigers and Arizona were ranked higher than Arkansas all season but neither made it out of their regional site.HOW TOUGH IS IT TO WIN?Nearly impossible unless you’re one of four teams. The NCAA Championship for gymnastics began in 1982. Since that time, only four different schools have won all of the titles. Utah has won nine, Georgia has six titles, UCLA has five and Alabama has won four. See the list of year-by-year winners on the left of this page.WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE FIELD?Arkansas, of course, has faced the four other Southeastern Conference schools who advanced to the championship. In addition, the Gym’Backs have taken on Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Utah as well. Arkansas is meeting Michigan, Iowa State and Arizona State for the first time in program history.MORE ABOUT THE OPPONENTSArkansas has losses this year to Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU all from the Southeastern Conference both during the regular season and at the SEC Championships. The Gym’Backs also fell to Nebraska and Oregon State during the regular season.HERE’S A CLOSER LOOK AT THE TEAMSSession 1 (in alphabetical order)Alabama — 24-2, 5-1 SEC || 1st West Regional || 23 appearancesLSU — 18-12, 2-4 SEC || 2nd Central Regional || 17 appearanceMichigan — 20-5-1, 7-3 Big 10 || 1st Northeast Regional || 14 appearancesNebraska — 20-7-1, 4-2 Big 12 || 2nd Southeast Regional || 16 appearancesOklahoma — 14-6, 1-2 Big 12 || 1st Central Regional || 5 appearancesUtah — 15-3 || 2nd Northeast Regional || 24 appearancesSession 2 (in alphabetical order)Arizona State –19-7, 7-5 Pac-10 || 1st North Central Regional || 18 appearancesArkansas — 12-15, 2-4 SEC || 2nd South Central Regional || First appearanceFlorida — 25-4, 4-2 SEC || 1st South Central Regional || 23 appearancesGeorgia — 26-0, 6-0 SEC || 1st Southeast Regional || 22 appearancesIowa State — 20-4, 4-0 Big 12 || 2nd North Central Regional || 2nd cons. appear.Oregon State — 25-10, 4-6 Pac-10 || 2nd West Regional || 15 appearancesNEW KID ON THE BLOCKArkansas is the only “first-timer” to this year’s NCAA Championship. Iowa State made their inaugural appearance at the championship last year.NOT ALL NEWArkansas senior Dana McQuillin became the first individual qualifier for the all-around last year after Arkansas finished fourth at the 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 12-17 all-time in Barnhill Arena. The Gym’Backs are 4-9 at home against SEC opponents and 8-8 against non-conference foes. The Gym’Backs’ four SEC wins have come against Kentucky (twice) and Auburn (twice).THREE IN A ROWArkansas’ 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 7-3 this year in Barnhill Arena with wins over Kentucky, Auburn and Washington during the regular season. Arkansas was 4-1 in regional action. 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. LOOKING AT THE REGIONAL RANKINGSArkansas 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 REGIONTalk 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 sent individuals to the regional championship in Fayetteville.PEACOCK IS DOING WELLIn just her second season of gymnastics at Arkansas, sophomore Emily Peacock has been a team leader from the beginning. Peacock has competed in every meet during her career, setting a school record with 9.95 on the bars against No. 18 Kentucky in Arkansas’ first Southeastern Conference win of the season in 2006. Peacock has five individual wins this year, two on bars and three on floor. Peacock’s from bars title came at No. 3 Alabama and she followed with a win against No. 18 Kentucky. Her floor titles came against No. 15 Penn State, No. 18 Kentucky and No. 36 Washington this season. Her season bests include a 9.95 on bars, a 9.825 on beam and a 9.925 on floor this season. Although just a sophomore, Peacock has been one of the most consistent gymnasts for Arkansas and has ranked among the South Central Region leaders. Peacock ranked tied for sixth on the bars with an RQS of 9.865 and a season high of 9.950 heading into regionals. That score is also an Arkansas school record for the Gym’Backs. Peacock ranks tied for 32nd on the beam with a 9.725 RQS and a 9.825 season-high. She ranks tied for 14th overall on the floor with a 9.825 RQS and a season-best 9.925.McQUILLIN REALLY IS AN ALL-AROUNDERIn addition to being an all-arounder in the gym, Arkansas senior Dana McQuillin is getting the job done in the classroom as well. The senior has a 3.724 grade point average in interior design and sociology and is an SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar Athlete nominee.McLEOD ADDS TO HER RESUMESenior Hannah McLeod recently earned the Southeastern Conference Community Service post-graduate scholarship. The Orlando, Fla., native is a three-time team captain and a three-time National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women academic scholar-athlete. In addition, McLeod is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, a member of the Women’s Athletics Department Honor roll and a National Merit Scholar. She has earned an Honors College Fellowship as well as an Honors College undergraduate research grant. McLeod has also been very active in the Northwest Arkansas community. Some of McLeod’s projects include representing Arkansas at the NCAA Leadership Conference and serving on the Arkansas women’s Athletics student-athlete advisory committee. McLeod has helped needy families in the Adopt-A-Family program, helped underprivileged children through Razorbacks for Christmas and assisted at the Russell Home for Atypical Children. McLeod has helped raise money for Special Olympics and has participated in the American Heart Association Heart Walk. As a member of Arkansas Athletes Outreach, McLeod has spoken at local churches and schools, counseled high school athletes, helped coordinate gymnastics lessons at the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Clubs and the Feed the Families campaign for families in need in Northwest Arkansas. A biology major, McLeod has also volunteered in medical clinics in Honduras and Florida. She will enter medical school in August. SPEAKING OF SENIORSArkansas celebrated the success of the program’s first-ever senior class this year. The Gym’Backs have five of the original 11 gymnasts remaining. They are Katie Hardman, Melissa Leigh, Audra Loveless, Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin. All five are on track to graduate this year or next. Hardman will finish with a degree in kinesiology and will enter the coaching ranks after graduation. Leigh and Loveless will both complete kinesiology degrees and Loveless is engaged to be married shortly after graduation. McLeod will graduate with a degree in biology and has been accepted to medical school. McQuillin has an internship planned after graduation and hopes to work in planning and designing living and working spaces for low income individuals.BUT WAIT, THERE’S MOREArkansas began the program in 2003 will 11 freshmen, five of whom we just talked about. But where are the others? The other six all retired from gymnastics at various points in their careers. Four of the six remain in school at Arkansas working with the team or the athletic department and all are on track to graduate. Valerie Conroy is the team’s manager, Brooke Lawrence and Kim Harris work in the marketing office and Whitney Cashwell is a student assistant in the communications office. The other two, Kylee Small and Tiffany Berry, both returned to their home state, Florida. Small recently graduated from the University of Florida and Berry is married and the couple have a son.THE SEC’S TOUGHAnyone who knows the Southeastern Conference understands that it is arguably the toughest women’s gymnastics conference in the country. Arkansas’ record against the league reflects that talent as the Gym’Backs are 2-4 against the league. How does Arkansas stack up against the other conferences? Arkansas is 3-2 against the Pacific-10 with a pair of wins over Washington and a win against California. The Gym’Backs lost to UCLA and Oregon State in Hawai’i. Arkansas is 1-0 against the WAC (Sacramento State) and 1-1 versus the EAGL (North Carolina [W], West Virginia [L]) and 0-2 against the Big 12 (Missouri and Nebraska) and the Big 10 (Penn State).SEC STRONG IN THE POLLThe Southeastern Conference is well represented in the most recent national poll with all seven teams ranked in the top 20. Georgia maintains its strangle-hold on the top spot while Florida remains in third for the third week. Alabama moved from No. 3 to No. 5 two week’s ago and stays there this week as well. LSU also fell one spot from No. 7 to No. 8 two week’s ago but rebounded up to No. 7 after SECs. Auburn begins its third consecutive week at No. 14 while Arkansas (No. 18) and Kentucky (No. 19) trade places.

2006 HONORS AND AWARDS

Vault Champion –
Alexandra LaChance9.850vs. No. 15 Penn State2/3/06
Bars Champion –
Melissa Leigh9.800vs. No. 15 Penn State2/3/06
Emily Peacock9.800at No. 3 Alabama2/17/06
Emily Peacock9.950vs. No. 18 Kentucky2/24/06
Melissa Leigh9.900vs. No. 36 Washington3/12/06
Beam Champion –
Katie Hardman9.90vs. No. 36 Washington3/12/06
Floor Champion –
Emily Peacock9.825vs. No. 15 Penn State2/3/06
Rachel Barnett9.825vs. No. 15 Penn State2/3/06
Mallory Machnik9.825vs. No. 15 Penn State2/3/06
Emily Peacock9.875vs. No. 18 Kentucky2/24/06
Rachel Barnett9.875vs. No. 18 Kentucky2/24/06
Emily Peacock9.925vs. No. 36 Washington3/12/06
SEC Gymnast of the Week
Week 10Katie Hardman3/15/06
SEC Good Works Team
Audra Loveless
SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship Award Winner
Hannah McLeod
SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar Athlete Finalist
Dana McQuillin
South Central Regional Administrator of the Year
Bev Lewis, University of Arkansas


Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)