RAZORBACKS HOST GEORGIA FRIDAYArkansas continues Southeastern Conference action hosting second-ranked Georgia Friday at 7 p.m. in Barnhill Arena. The Georgia meet is the fourth consecutive SEC contest for Arkansas.
THE ROAD IS TOUGHArkansas has had back-to-back road scores in the low to mid 195s, first with a 195.075 at Kentucky followed by a 195.40 at Auburn last week. The Razorbacks did battle some falls at Kentucky but came away with the SEC win. The scoring was tighter at Auburn and the Razorbacks lost to the Tigers.
MORE ABOUT AUBURNThe Auburn meet is the first time this year that Arkansas did not win an individual event.
TV TIME CONTINUESArkansas’ meet with Georgia will be broadcast as part of the Razorbacks’ COX TV agreement. Elizabeth Jillson and Emily Peacock will call the action and the event is scheduled to air on CST (Channel 119 on the Cox network, Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. Former Oregon State gymnast Elizabeth Jillson will provided play-by-play with former Razorback gymnast Emily Peacock providing color.
STOUT GETTING IT DONEJunior Michelle Stout was Arkansas’ top all-around finisher at Auburn last week. She is putting together a solid junior campaign that includes a career-best seven all-around performances. She competed in six as a freshman and five as a sophomore. Stout is averaging 39.193 as an all-arounder and has counted 27 of 28 performances toward the Razorback team score and has finished in the top five as an all-arounder in every meet this year.
PHENOMENAL FRESHMANFreshman Jaime Pisani has been a rock for the Razorbacks in her first year of collegiate gymnastics. The Ringwood, N.J., native has counted 26 of 28 performances toward the team score, won the all-around title at Kentucky and earned a pair of Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors this year. She is averaging 39.146 as an all-arounder – the second-best average for Arkansas.
ALL-AROUNDERS GETTING IT DONEIn addition to Michelle Stout and Jaime Pisani (see notes above) Arkansas relies heavily on juniors Casey Jo Magee and Sarah Nagashima. The foursome account for four of every six scores on each event for the Razorbacks. Magee won a school-best five consecutive all-around titles to open the season. She is currently ranked a team-best seventh in the country as an all-arounder. She is followed by No. 11 Stout, No. 16 Pisani and No. 22 Nagashima. Nagashima is also finding herself in the all-around role for the first time in her career. She has competed in all four events in each of Arkansas seven meets this year and is averaging 38.989 for the Razorbacks.
LaCHANCE SOLID FOR ARKANSASLone senior Alex LaChance has fallen into her role as a vault and floor worker for the Razorbacks over the last two seasons. This year, she is averaging 9.736 on vault and 9.825 on the floor. LaChance has counted 13 of 14 scores towards the team total.
STEADY EDDY ON THE LINEUPArkansas has made very few adjustments to this year’s line up (see tentative lineup on the right). In fact, it has been the same for the last several meets. But Arkansas does have some flexibility and could put Alex LaChance up on beam or Stacy Bartlett on floor just to name a few options.
ROLE PLAYERS KNOW THEIR….ROLESStacy Bartlett and Molly Lewis compete in one event each while Alex, LaChance, Amy DeFilippo and Mariah Howdeshell perform on two events each. That’s the good and the bad when you have four solid all-arounders. Despite the lack of performance time, each of the aforementioned gymnast have made the most of her opportunities. Bartlett is averaging 9.657 on the beam – exactly the same mark she finished her freshman year at and she’s counted six of seven routines this year. Lewis posted a career-best 9.825 on floor twice this year and is averaging 9.761 for Arkansas. DeFilippo tied her career mark on the beam this year with a 9.90 at No. 8 Oklahoma and LaChance broke the 9.90 mark on the floor for a career-high in 2009.
BEST SEC SEASON EVERThe Razorbacks have won three SEC dual meets this year. That is a program-best, bettering Arkansas’ two league wins in each of the previous five seasons. Arkansas is undefeated against Kentucky and has defeated Auburn in the last five regular-season meetings.
RQS RANKINGS START NOWThis week, the poll changed to RQS or regional qualifying score. Qualification for regional competition is based on a team’s and an all-around competitor’s six best regular-season-meet scores, of which three must be away. To obtain the regional qualifying score (RQS), the high score is eliminated and the remaining five scores are averaged. You’ll notice that some teams have enough meets under their belts (at least six) to have an RQS this week.
ARKANSAS AGAINST THE POLLThe Razorbacks are having a great year in the gym and have been in the top 10 since the season began. Co-head coaches Mark and René Cook have always operated under the philosophy that to be the best, you have to compete against the best and Arkansas certainly has done that. According to this week’s poll numbers, Arkansas has faced No. 5 Auburn, No. 8 Alabama, No. 9 Oregon State, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 16 Ohio State – Kentucky and California are the only two opponents not in the top 25 this week. In addition, the Razorbacks still have No. 2 Georgia, No. 10 LSU and No. 62 Minnesota on the schedule.
ABOUT GEORGIAThe second-ranked and nine-time defending National Champion Georgia Gym Dogs are again in the midst of a great season. Georgia enters the meet with Arkansas a perfect 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the SEC. Courtney Kupets has won seven consecutive all-around titles and the Gym Dogs are averaging 196.546 per meet.
THE SERIESGeorgia has dominated the series with a 13-0 advantage. Georgia has been ranked as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 8 (2005) when facing Arkansas. Georgia’s best score in Fayetteville was a 197.225 in the first meeting in 2003. Arkansas was close in 2005, falling 195.30-195.150 and closer still in 2007, losing 196.100-196.075.
UP NEXTThe Razorbacks travel to LSU before returning home hosting Minnesota in the final regular-season home meet of the 2009 season. Arkansas also hosts the 2009 South Central Regional Championship April 4, in Barnhill Arena. For tickets please call the Razorback Ticket Office at 575-5151.