GYM’BACKS HOME FOR THREE IN A ROWThe University of Arkansas gymnastics team returns to Fayetteville hosting three meets in a row. Arkansas hosts No. 19 Kentucky, No. 13 Auburn and No. 30 Washington in back-to-back Friday meets with the Huskies coming to town on a Sunday.
ABOUT LAST WEEKArkansas had the meet of the year last week at No. 3 Alabama but, unfortunately, the scores don’t reflect the team’s success. Arkansas scored a 194.175 as a team – their second highest point total of the year – but the coaching staff felt the numbers could have been even better. “The meet was awesome,” said co-head coach Mark Cook. “We hit on 23 of 24 routines. It’s what we’ve been working for.”
LAST WEEK’S TRAVELSArkansas was scheduled to return to Fayetteville after the meet Friday but inclement weather put a damper on things. Arkansas’ charter plane departed Tuscaloosa after the meet but was re-routed from Drake Field to XNA. Those plans changed as the team got closer and visibility dropped to 1/2 mile. The team landed in Springfield, Mo., and scampered to find rooms at 1:00 a.m. After settling in for a couple hours of sleep, Arkansas re-boarded the charter plane landing at Drake Saturday morning around 10:00 a.m.
PEACOCK STRUTS HER STUFFSophomore Emily Peacock has been solid all season but looked especially strong at Alabama. The San Antonio, Texas, native had a season-best on bars with a 9.825 tying a pair of Bama gymnasts for the win on that event. Peacock tied for second on the beam with a 9.825 and was fourth overall and Arkansas’ top finisher with a 9.775 on the floor exercise.
DREW GETTING IT DONEJunior Cassie Drew has quietly been getting the job done this year. The Raleigh, N.C., native has competed for the all-around title in five of Arkansas’ seven meets this year – a significant increase from her two all-around meets last season. Drew scored a 39.175 two weeks ago at the Florida Quad meet which is just shy of her career high. Her 39.175 ranks 14th all-time at Arkansas.
GETTING BETTER AND BETTERArkansas has continued to improve all season and that was again true on the road at Alabama last week. The Gym’Backs posted their second-best team score at 194.175 and had their second-best bar total at 48.600. The Gym’Backs’ beam score was a season high and the floor mark was the third highest of the year.
SCORES WERE REWARDEDArkansas moved up in the poll this week jumping from No. 21 to No. 19 as the poll changed to RQS (Regional Qualifying Score). In addition Arkansas maintained or improved on each individual event. Arkansas ranks 17th for the second consecutive week on vault, moved up to No. 23 on bars and beam and is 26th on the floor this week. See the box to the right for Arkansas’ week-by-week ranking in the poll.
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 9-16 all-time in Barnhill Arena. The Gym’Backs are 2-9 at home against SEC opponents and 7-7 against non-conference foes. The Gym’Backs’ two SEC wins have come against Kentucky and Auburn.
TV TIME CONTINUESArkansas has been on television twice this year. First against Penn State when FOX 46/KPBI aired the event via tape delay. Arkansas was again on TV at Florida in an ESPN2 broadcast – the first national broadcast for the Gym’Backs. Arkansas returns to the airwaves against Kentucky as the SEC Meet of the Week. This week’s event is televised by FSN and will air Saturday, March 4 at 5:00 p.m. Central on FSN.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (From UKATHLETICS.com) Kentucky gymnastics fell to No. 5 Florida (9-2, 3-2), 196.400-195.550, Friday evening in Memorial Coliseum. Despite the loss, the No. 18 Cats (7-3, 1-3) continued to improve by posting season-high team scores on bars, floor and overall. Kentucky started the meet on vault where freshman Natalie Rubinstein and juniors Krystle Cook and Rachel Riley (career-high) all posted 9.825s. UK’s team score of 48.925 was its second highest total of the season. On bars, Kentucky came away with a season-high 49.050. Cook took home first place honors with a season-best 9.9. The Cats ran into some tough times on the beam, but freshman Heather Hite helped salvage the team score with a 9.8 and third place finish to close out the rotation. UK finished the meet with a season-high 49.225 on floor. Hite recorded her third 9.9 of her Wildcat career en route to a second place finish, while Rubinstein notched a season-best 9.850. Hite came into the meet ranked 22nd nationally with a 9.779 average. Once again, the Cats placed four of the top six gymnasts.
ARKANSAS AGAINST THE WILDCATSArkansas has faced Kentucky six times winning five meetings and tying the Wildcats once. The Gym’Backs captured a win in the first meeting between the programs in Lexington but tied Kentucky later that year at the SEC Championship. Arkansas won the next meet in Fayetteville in 2004, edged Kentucky in the SEC meet that same year and won in Lexington last year. Finally, Arkansas again defeated Kentucky at the SEC Championship last year.
NOT THE SAME KENTUCKY TEAMAlthough Arkansas has defeated Kentucky in nearly every meeting, this year’s Wildcat team is better than in recent seasons. Kentucky opened the year 7-0 and posted several high scores including a 195.550 against No. 5 Florida recently. The Wildcats are ranked just ahead of Arkansas in the national poll at No. 18 and are close to Arkansas on each event. Kentucky ranks 20th on vault, 18th on bars, 17th on beam and 20th on floor this year.
ARKANSAS SIXTH IN SOUTH CENTRAL REGIONThe Gym’Backs are looking to move up in the South Central Region. Arkansas was sixth for the sixth consecutive week. See the complete South Central poll on the previous page.
SEC STRONG IN THE POLLThe Southeastern Conference is well represented in the most recent national poll with all seven teams ranked in the top 19. Georgia is the highest-ranked team checking in at No. 1 for the fifth consecutive week. Florida jumped over Alabama and is ranked second followed by the Crimson Tide at No. 4. LSU checks in at No. 11 while Auburn moved up to No. 13, Kentucky and Arkansas round out the SEC in the polls ranking No. 18 and No. 19, respectively.
LOOKING AHEADThe Penn State meet signaled the close of the first of two home stands for the Gym’Backs. Arkansas traveled to Florida facing the Gators, West Virginia and North Carolina followed by a trip to Alabama as February continues. Arkansas returns home for three in a row hosting Kentucky, Auburn and Washington before finishing the regular season at Nebraska.
ABOUT THE NCAA REGIONAL MEETArkansas hosts the South Central Regional meet April 8 at 6:00 p.m., in Barnhill Arena. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and students. Please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK for more information.