RAZORBACKS TRAVEL TO BATON ROUGE FRIDAYArkansas wraps up Southeastern Conference action traveling to No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge, this week. The Razorbacks are coming off a good meet against No. 2 Georgia last week and are looking to carry the momentum into Baton Rouge where the Tigers have been on fire and the scores have been good.
PISANI WINS BIG ALL-AROUND TITLEFreshman Jaime Pisani won the second all-around title of her career getting a big win over No. 2 Georgia Friday. Pisani scored a career-best 39.250 with 9.90s on the vault and floor tying for the win on both events. She added a 9.70 on bars and a 9.85 on beam en route to her title. Pisani’s first collegiate all-around title came at Kentucky three weeks ago after which she earned SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week honors.VAULTING AHEADArkansas set a school record on the vault scoring a program-best 49.450 in the opening event against No. 2 Georgia. Arkansas had four of six gymnasts score a 9.90 to tie for the win. Those gymnasts were Alex LaChance, Casey Jo Magee, Jaime Pisani and Michelle Stout.
FINAL LEAGUE MEET OF THE YEARArkansas travels to LSU for the final SEC meet of the 2009 season. The year has quickly flown by and the Razorbacks have had their best year in the league since adding gymnastics for the 2003 season. Arkansas was 1-5 in that inaugural year and moved to 2-4 with wins over Kentucky and Auburn in each of the next five seasons. This year, Arkansas is 3-2 in the SEC with wins at Kentucky and against Florida and Alabama downing the Gators and Crimson Tide for the first time ever in the SEC regular season.
TIMES TWOArkansas has twice had meets in which they have scored 49.00 or better on all four events. It happened first at No. 7 Oklahoma and again when Arkansas hosted No. 2 Georgia.
RAZORBACKS IN THE RANKINGSThis week, Arkansas has at least one gymnast ranked in the top 25 on each of the five events. All four of Arkansas’ all-arounders are in the top 25 led by Casey Jo Magee at No. 10. Jaime Pisani is ranked 13th followed by No. 15 Michelle Stout and No. 24 Sarah Nagashima. Pisani is ranked 13th on vault and Stout is No. 15. The uneven bars are led by Magee who is tied for 14th followed Stout who is tied for 18th. Magee is the lone Razorback ranked on beam this week checking at at a tie for No. 9. The floor has three Razorbacks ranked. They are NO. 15 Pisani, tNo. 16 Stout and tNo.24 Magee.
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.
DOMINATING ALL-AROUNDERSArkansas has won seven of eight possible all-around titles this year. The lone break in the streak came at Auburn where Arkansas did not win a single individual title. Junior Casey Jo Magee won the all-around title in the first five meets of the season with freshman Jaime Pisani picking up the torch at Kentucky and again last week against Georgia. Magee ranks fifth in the SEC this week as an all-arounder. Junior Michelle Stout is 11th followed by Pisani at No. 14 and junior Sarah Nagashima at No. 20.
RQS RANKINGS IN EFFECTThis week’s poll is based on 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.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?In Arkansas’ case, the Razorbacks’ six-best scores are: 1. at Oklahoma 196.900 2. vs. Georgia 196.725 3. vs. Alabama 196.625 4. vs. Florida 196.375 5. at Oregon St. 195.925 6. vs. Ohio State 195.775 at Auburn 195.400But notice that only two of those scores are on the road and you must count three away scores. For Arkansas, that means dropping Ohio State and factoring in the road score at Auburn – 195.400. If you eliminate the high score at OU, add the remaining five, you get 981.05. Divide that number by five and you get Arkansas’ RQS of 196.210.
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. 11 Alabama, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 19 Ohio State and top-ranked Georgia. Kentucky is just outside the top 25 at No. 28 this week. In addition, the Razorbacks still have No. 6 LSU and No. 18 Minnesota on the schedule.
ABOUT LSULSU has won three consecutive matches and boasts a 10-2 record heading into the meet this week. The Tigers have scratched their way up the rankings to a season-best No. 6 this week after dominating their opponents last week scoring a season-best 197.400. It was the first time all season that LSU scored a 49.200 or better on fall four events and the Tigers posted season-bests of 49.500 on bars and 49.475 on floor.
THE SERIESArkansas is 0-16 lifetime against LSU. The Razorbacks are 0-4 in Fayetteville, 0-3 in Baton Rouge and 0-9 in neutral gyms against the Tigers. The closest meeting between these teams came in 2004 when No. 14 LSU downed No. 13 Arkansas, 196.775-196.450 in Fayetteville during the regular season.
A LOOK AT NUMBERS Arkansas Stat LSU 9 Team Rank 6 7 Vault 4 7 Bars 6 11 Beam 7 3 Floor 13 196.900 Team High Score 197.400 1 (SC) Regional Ranking 2 (Central) 2 All-Americans 3 UP NEXTThe Razorbacks return 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.