About ArkansasThe University of Arkansas gymnastics team is coming off its best ever performance at the Southeastern Conference Championships with a fifth-place finish and a 195.325. Arkansas next travels to NCAA Regionals making their second post season appearance in just three seasons of gymnastics.
About RegionalsArkansas was selected as the third seed in the Northeast Regional. The Gym’Backs travel to Durham, N.H., for the University of New Hampshire-hosted event. Also competing in Arkansas’ Regional is LSU, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Rutgers and Pittsburg. 1. LSU2. Oklahoma3. Arkansas4. New Hampshire5. Rutgers6. Pittsburgh
NORTHEAST REGIONAL DRAW RESULTS
|Rotation 1||Rutgers||New Hampshire||LSU||Oklahoma||Pittsburgh||Arkansas|
|Bulka, Brockport||Domenick, RI||Fong, Yale||Petkun, Penn||Santore, Brockport||McPherson, Yale|
|Rotation 2||Arkansas||Rutgers||New Hampshire||LSU||Oklahoma||Pittsburgh|
|McPherson, Yale||Bulka, Brockport||Domenick, RI||Moon, Penn||Petkun, Penn||Santore, Brockport|
|Rotation 3||Pittsburgh||Arkansas||Rutgers||New Hampshire||LSU||Oklahoma|
|Santore, Brockport||McPherson, Yale||Bulka, Brockport||Domenick, RI||Petkun, Penn|
|Rotation 4||Oklahoma||Pittsburgh||Arkansas||Rutgers||New Hampshire||LSU|
|Petkun, Penn||Santore, Brockport||McPherson, Yale||Bulka, Brockport||Domenick, RI||Todd, RI|
|Rotation 5||LSU||Oklahoma||Pittsburgh||Arkansas||Rutgers||New Hampshire|
|Zafferes, Temple||Petkun, Penn||Santore, Brockport||McPherson, Yale||Bulka, Brockport||Domenick, RI|
|Rotation 6||New Hampshire||LSU||Oklahoma||Pittsburgh||Arkansas||Rutgers|
|Domenick, RI||Petkun, Penn||Santore, Brockport||McPherson, Yale||Bulka, Brockport|
Juniors lead Gym’BacksThat’s right. Arkansas does not have a senior on the team. Why? Well, the University of Arkansas added gymnastics in 2003 – just three seasons ago. Co-head coaches Mark and Rene Cook recruited 11 freshmen for the inaugural team, six of whom are still with the program. Arkansas’ first senior class will be next year.
All OverArkansas’ scores were all over at the SEC Championships. The Gym’Backs tallied a 48.225 on vault which was the lowest vault total of the 2005 season. The team collected a 48.900 on bars which was third best on the year and improved a bit on beam with a 49.125, the second-best beam mark of the season. Arkansas wrapped up with the team’s top floor score of the year notching a 49.075.
Seeded at RegionalsArkansas finished the regular season ranked 15th in the country. That ranking means Arkansas enters postseason as one of the 18 teams who are seeded earning the team national respect in just their third season of action.
Lineup ChangesArkansas has seen its lineup change up in recent meets. The changes have come for several reasons including needing a fresh look and injury. The shake-ups started March 13, when the Gym’Backs hosted Missouri and continued throughout the SEC Championships last week. Samantha Cortez had been a consistent member in the all-around for Arkansas but she pulled back to focus on vault and floor scores in recent meets. Junior Katie Hardman had been a three event worker on bars, beam and floor but a concussion saw her limit her performances in recent meets. Junior Audra Loveless suffered a broken foot in practice before the team left for SECs and is most likely out for the season. As a result, sophomore Rachel Barnett was pressed into all-around duties for the first time in her Gym’Back career at the SEC meet. Barnett seemed to like the pressure scoring her best vault, beam and floor scores of the year.
Drew me a pictureSophomore Cassie Drew was also supposed to be an all-arounder for Arkansas at the SEC meet. Drew competed all four events in all but one meet as a true freshman last year but had only been an all-arounder in two meets this season (due to the lineup changes mentioned above). She was again set to try her hand at SECs but was a last-minute scratch on the floor with freshman Emily Peacock stepping in. Drew had already done her job however, scoring her second-best bar total and second-best beam total of the year.
Pretty as a PeacockFreshman Emily Peacock has been a solid three-event competitor for Arkansas all season but the San Antonio, Texas, native has yet to vault in competition for the Gym’Backs. That could change this weekend as the coaching staff and Peacock have been working hard to perfect her vault for competition. She may be ready for her debut at Regionals.
Steady Eddie, I mean DanaJunior Dana McQuillin has been one of the most consistent gymnasts for Arkansas over the past two seasons. The all-arounder competed for the four-event title in every meet last year and again in all but two this season. She won Arkansas’ lone all-around title of the year with a 38.950 at No. 12 Denver in a mid-season meet.
Arkansas finishes regular season 15th in the national pollThe Gym’Backs are ranked 15th this week in the final regular season poll. That is the highest mark for the team since adding gymnastics in 2003. Arkansas’ previous best was No. 20 last year as the team was invited to Regionals for the first time in school history. Gym’Backs third in the South Central RegionArkansas has been a consistent number three in the South Central Region all season trailing Nebraska and Oklahoma this year. The Gym’Backs faced Nebraska in a quad meet in Barnhill Arena but have never met OU in competition in the program’s history. Here’s a look at this week’s South Central rankings by RQS.
Also in the RegionArkansas has been a consistent number three in the Region and there’s reason. The have been consistent each week on the individual event rankings. This week, Arkansas ranks third in the Region on beam and fifth on vault, bars and floor. The Gym’Backs have several individuals ranked as well paced by junior Katie Hardman who is ninth on beam. Cassie Drew is No. 12, Hannah McLeod is No. 13 and Emily Peacock is No. 15 on beam this week as well. Peacock is the highest ranked Gym’Back on bars and is tied for number eight while Mallory Machnik is the highest ranked floor worker checking in at number 11. Dana McQuillin leads Arkansas in the all-around and is 13th this week.
Arkansas has some Regional experienceDespite the youth of the Gym’Back team, Arkansas does have NCAA Regional experience. The Gym’Backs were invited to the South Central Regional last year traveling to Arizona where they finished fourth overall behind No. 5 Utah, No. 8 Florida, and No. 18 Arkansas. The Gym’Backs scored a 195.550 including a 48.825 on vault, a 49.375 on bars, a 48.85 on beam and a 48.50 on floor. The team’s 49.375 on bars was a season and program best paced by Melissa Leigh’s 9.925 on the apparatus.
2004 South Central Regional Results (Arkansas only)
After RegionalsArkansas hopes to be one of the top two teams at this Regional site. The top two teams, regardless of score, advance to the NCAA Super Six. The NCAA Championship consists of 12 teams, two each from each of the six Regional sites, and 12 all-around and event competitors who are not part of a qualifying team. The three-day NCAA Championship consists of a six-team competition each day with the top three teams from day one and day two meeting in the Super Six to decide a national champion. Auburn University is this year’s host for the NCAA Championship.
About the other teams
No. 3 LSU Fighting Tigers (from lsusports.com) — The accolades rolled in for the second-ranked LSU gymnastics team Saturday night at the SEC Championships as junior April Burkholder was named the conference’s Gymnast of the Year and D-D Breaux garnered Coach of the Year honors, but the Tigers came up just short in the final team standings, finishing .275 points behind eventual champion Georgia. The Tigers tallied a 196.975 in placing second, the program’s best finish at the conference championships since the 1995 season. LSU enters the meet with a 19-4 overall record and are making their 21st consecutive appearance at the Regional meet. LSU finished seventh at last year’s NCAA Championships.
Arkansas vs. LSU— The Gym’Backs are 0-6 lifetime against the Tigers, falling twice this season to LSU.
No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners (from soonersports.com) — The University of Oklahoma finished third at the Big 12 Championship on Saturday, March 26 at the Lloyd Noble Center. The Sooners are 12-7 after the conference meet with senior Erin LaBarr earning Big 12 Gymnast of the Year honors.
Arkansas vs. OU — The Gym’Backs and Sooners are meeting for the first time in program history.
No. 41 New Hampshire Wildcats (from uhwildcats.com) — The University of New Hampshire women’s gymnastics team placed sixth in Friday night’s East Atlantic Gymnastics League championships held at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum. The Wildcats stayed in the running throughout the meet, but were forced to count three costly falls on beam to score a total 193.25 points. Junior Amanda Hall (Bremerton, Wash.) received the EAGL Conference’s highest honor at its annual awards banquet held on the campus of North Carolina State. Hall was named EAGL Gymnast of the Year after being ranked among the top two gymnasts in three events, plus the all-around. Also earning first-team All-EAGL honors for UNH was junior Mariana Pena Trestini (Valencia, Venezuela) , who was among the league’s top gymnasts on balance beam with a season-best judgement of 9.875. She was also named second-team All-EAGL in the floor exercise with a season-best of 9.975, which tied the all-time high mark set by Hall, and she was second-team on bars with a best of 9.875 this season. This will mark the 24th consecutive time that 26th-year head coach Gail Goodspeed has led the Wildcats to an NCAA regional championship meet. During the past 23 years, UNH won one regional, in 1994, and finished second three times (1991, 1983 and 1982). Last season UNH finished sixth at the Northeast Regional held at Penn State. UNH completed the 2005 regular season with a 16-10 overall record and recently finished sixth at the EAGL Championships held at North Carolina State on March 25th.
Arkansas vs. UNH — The Gym’Backs and Wildcats are meeting for the first time in program history.
No. 51 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (from scarletknights.com) — The Rutgers University gymnastics team (17-15, 3-12 EAGL) racked up 192.625 points to finish seventh at the 10th annual East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championships at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Senior Stephanie Zick (Pittsburgh, PA) and freshman Stephanie Pannick (Archbald, PA) led the Scarlet Knights in the floor exercise, as they both tied for 18th place, scoring a 9.775. Zick was also RU’s top performer on the uneven bars, posting a 9.750 to finish in a six-way tie for 17th place, while Pannick led the squad on the vault with a 9.600 to finish tied for 32nd.
Arkansas vs. Rutgers — The Gym’Backs and Scarlet Knights are meeting for the first time in program history.
No. 52 Pittsburgh Panthers (pittsburghpanthers.com) — The Pittsburgh gymnastics (8-19 overall) team could not overcome early falls on the vault and unven bars and placed eighth with 191.1 points at the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships, held at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum on Friday evening. North Carolina won the EAGL title with 195.975 points, followed by Maryland and West Virginia in a tie for second with 195.2 points.
Arkansas vs. Pittsburgh — The Gym’Backs and Panthers are meeting for the first time in program history.
SEC RepresentsAll seven Southeastern Conference teams were selected for the 2005 NCAA Regional competion. Arkansas and LSU travel to New Hampshire where the Tigers are the top seeded team. Alabama and Florida are both hosting Regionals with the Tide as the top seed in Tuscaloosa. Auburn and Kentucky are also in this Region. The Gators are the second seed in their Region behind SEC foe Georgia who is the top team.
Regional ExperienceAt this point in the season, no Gym’Back can claim “freshman nerves” heading into the NCAA Regional Championship. Nearly everyone on the roster has contributed at some point this year and Arkansas has already faced the nation’s best competition during the regular season and the conference meet. However, this year, Arkansas does have the luxury of five juniors who have competed at Regionals on the roster. Katie Hardman, Melissa Leigh, Audra Loveless, Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin are all veterans at the meet. Here’s a look at how those five scored at Regionals last year (in Arizona).
Sophomores Add Experience TooSophomores Rachel Barnett and Cassie Drew have also experienced the Regional Meet. As a true freshman, Barnett recorded a 9.850 on bars, 9.825 on beam and a 9.675 on floor while Drew added a 9.675 on vault, 9.80 on bars, 9.750 on beam, 9.700 on floor and a 38.925 as an all-arounder last year.
About the CoachesMark and Rene Cook are in their third season with a team at Arkansas and the fourth year at the University. Challenged with building a program from the ground up, where nothing, no training facility, no equipment, no uniforms, existed before was a task the duo embraced on their first day on campus. Since that time, Arkansas has continued to improve and climb in both the win/loss column and in the rankings. This year, Arkansas reached an all-time program best 11th ranking as a team and was ranked as high as fifth on beam. The Coaches Cook have a 23-41-1 overall record (prior to regionals) at Arkansas and are 5-12 in SEC regular season meets. The Cooks and the Gym’Backs have two NCAA Regional appearance, have been ranked fourth in attendance in each of their first two seasons and have had 17 NACGC/W Academic All-Americans in their first two seasons.
Time Keeps on tickingArkansas’ 2005 season is winding down but the Gym’Backs have big meets remaining on the short schedule. Arkansas hosted a top-notch quad meet with Nebraska, Oregon State and UCLA to close the regular season, followed by a trip to the Southeastern Conference Championship March 26 in Duluth, Ga. Arkansas received its second bid to the NCAA Regional competition and hopes to earn a spot in the NCAA Super Six hosted by Auburn April 21-23.
Multi-MediaArkansas gymnastics goes multimedia this season when the Gym’Backs offer their meets online. Three of the five home meets will be available pay-per-view on LADYBACKS.COM while two events will air free of charge. Both the Missouri meet and the Quad are online with the Missouri event airing free and the quad as a pay-per-view event. In addition Arkansas is packaging athlete routines and will display some of that video on each athlete’s bio page in the weeks to come.
The Friendly ConfinesArkansas began the season with three consecutive road meets and five of the first six meets were away from home. But the Gym’Backs wrap up the season with four of their final five at home. Arkansas was 8-6 in Barnhill Arena in the first two seasons of action and is 1-6 this year for an 9-12 all-time mark.
Gym’Backs conquered tough scheduleHow’s this for a tough schedule? Every team that Arkansas faced in the regular season earned a trip to the NCAA Regionals this year. Here’s a look at who went where:
|Central||Southeast||North Central||Northeast||West||South Central|
Up NextArkansas is looking for one of the two top spots at the Northeast Regional to advance to the NCAA Championship hosted by Auburn University. Auburn University will host the 2005 NCAA Gymnastics Championships on April 21-23, where for three days the city of Auburn will welcome gymnastics fans from across the country as the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum becomes the mecca of collegiate gymnastics. The top 12 teams and all-around competitors from across the country will call Auburn home as they set their sites on the coveted National Championship title. Only four schools and head coaches have ever earned the title of National Champion, with Utah leading the way with nine titles under head coach Greg Marsden. The Georgia Gym Dogs have captured five under Suzanne Yoculan; UCLA has five titles all under head coach Valorie Kondos Field; and Alabama has won four under the leadership of Sarah Patterson. Preliminary team and all-around competition will be conducted in two sessions on April 21 with the top three teams from each session advancing to the Super Six on the 22nd. The top four individuals from each session in each event (plus ties) from the preliminary team and all-around competition will compete in the individual event competition on the 23rd.