Tough Home Meet For Arkansas Senior Cassie Drew and freshman Michelle Stout turned in solid performances leading the No. 15 University of Arkansas gymnastics team to a 194.175 against fifth-ranked Alabama in Barnhill Arena Friday. Arkansas lost the meet (197.00-194.175) but Drew notched a win on the floor with a season-best 9.850 tying Bama’s Erin Rightley for the top spot. Stout tied for third on the vault with a 9.875 and finished second in the all-around competition with a 38.950 for Arkansas.
Arkansas Moves Up In Poll The Gym’Backs moved up a spot to No. 14 this week in the poll for the second consecutive week. Teams are ranked by RQS or Regional Qualifying Scores, this week for the first time this year. Arkansas is 14th overall, 12th on vault, 16th on both bars and beam and ranked 11th on the floor this week.
SEC Looks Good In The Poll The Southeastern Conference continues to be one of the toughest conferences for gymnastics in the country. nearly all seven SEC members are ranked in the top 25 with Florida and Georgia holding the top two positions, respectively. Alabama moves up a spot to No. 4 followed by No. 9 LSU, No. 12 Auburn and No. 14 Arkansas. Kentucky is not ranked this week due to a reporting snafu.
Arkansas Individuals in the poll Arkansas also a couple of Gym’Backs ranked as individuals again this week. Junior Emily Peacock is 21st on the bars with a 9.820 RQS and she is tied for 21st on the floor also with a 9.820 RQS. Freshman Michelle Stout is 18th on the vault with a 9.840 RQS while freshman Casey Jo Magee ranks 17th on the beam with a 9.815 RQS on the event.
Youth dominates lineupArkansas has a young lineup. There are 24 performances in a meet and that number changes if you factor in the all-around competition. Last week against Alabama, Arkansas had 26 performances – six each on vault, bars, beam and floor and two all-arounders. The Gym’Backs had 14 of those performances filled with freshmen and sophomores. Arkansas competed three freshmen and a sophomore on vault, four freshmen on bars, three freshmen on beam, one freshman and one sophomore on floor and one freshman in the all-around.
You always win The fledgling gymnastics program that is the Gym’Backs has performed well in several meets throughout the first four-plus years of existence – but that hasn’t always translated into wins (individual or for the team). However, the Gym’Backs do have their fair share of individual titles. Here’s a quick look at some of the win totals.
Arkansas Needs A Road Score Arkansas hits the road for just the fourth time this year and just the second time for an SEC meet. Arkansas’ scores at Penn State and LSU were solid but a low score after a nightmare of travel at Utah is holding the Gym’Backs back a bit. Arkansas needs a better road score to erase the Utah numbers.About This RQSQualification 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.
About Kentucky (from ukathletics.com) The 22nd-ranked Kentucky gymnastics team put on its best show of the season and shattered its previous season high, but fell to top-ranked Florida 197.875-194.800 on Friday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. While UK was good on all four events, the Gators were great, posting the third-highest score in school history, including a school-record 49.700 on the uneven bars. The Wildcats registered a season-best 48.875 on bars in the meet while bettering their overall season best by nearly half a point.
Arkansas Versus Kentucky The Gym’Backs are 7-0-1 all-time against the Wildcats. The lone tie came in 2003 (Arkansas’ first year of gymnastics) when the teams eqaulled each other at the SEC Championship. Arkansas is 2-0 in Lexington, 2-0 in Fayetteville and 3-0-1 in a neutral gym.
Arkansas Is Fourth In The Region The Gym’Backs are ranked fourth in the regional rankings this week. Arkansas has been holding steady in the number four spot for four consecutive weeks.
Did you know – Vault (Athletes on this year’s roster only – not all-time) Of the 12 gymnasts on this year’s roster, junior Samantha Cortez holds seven of the top 10 vault marks. She has posted three 9.90s during her career and four 9.85s. In addition, freshman Michelle Stout set a new school record with a 9.95 on the vault against No. 1 Florida. She holds three of the top 10 vault marks.
Did you know – Bars (Athletes on this year’s roster only – not all-time) Junior Emily Peacock has been a dominate gymnast for Arkansas on the uneven bars. She holds the school record on the event with a 9.95 and has all but two of the top 10 marks among her current teammates.
Did you know – Beam (Athletes on this year’s roster only – not all-time) It’s senior Cassie Drew’s turn to shine on balance beam as she holds four of the top seven marks (several athletes have a 9.850). Drew has scored a 9.90 three times most recently at the Gym’Back Quad in 2005.
Did you know – Floor (Athletes on this year’s roster only – not all-time) Senior Rachel Barnett holds the top two spots on the current roster for the floor exercise. She has scored a 9.950 twice in her career most recently against No. 14 LSU in 2004. Cassie Drew and Emily Peacock have also faired well on the floor for Arkansas.
Did you know – All-Around (Athletes on this year’s roster only – not all-time) Arkansas again has looked to senior Cassie Drew for leadership as an all-arounder. Drew holds seven of the top spots. Freshman Michelle Stout checks in at No. 1 however, with a 39.325 set against top-ranked Florida in a second-place effort.
More TV pleaseNo problem. Nine of Arkansas 13 regular-season meets are slated for television. In addition to ESPN2 televising the Super Six Challenge, Arkansas will be on FSN at Kentucky and at the SEC Championship. The Gym’Backs get some camera time from COX when they host Georgia and at LSU and KFTA is airing Arkansas’ home meets with Florida and Alabama.
Big Meets Bookend the ScheduleArkansas opens and closes the 2007 season with two of the biggest “home” meets in school history. The Gym’Backs lead off with the Super Six Challenge with six of the nation’s toughest teams in a meet televised by ESPN2. Arkansas closes the regular season at the SEC Championship hosted by ALLTEL Arena in nearby North Little Rock, Ark.
2007 opponents fared well in 2006Fifteen of Arkansas’ 22 regular season opponents advanced to the NCAA Regional Championship a year ago. Six of those reached the NCAA Championship including four SEC opponents.
ALLTEL Arena hosts SEC ChampionshipNorth Little Rock’s ALLTEL Arena plays host to this year’s Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship. The 2007 Championship at ALLTEL marks the 10th venue to host the league’s teams. Arkansas first competed at the SEC Championship in 2003 when Birmingham hosted the event. The championship moved to Duluth, Ga., in 2004 and 2005 when teams competed in a multi-purpose facility that actually had ice from the previous week’s hockey game under the floor.The SEC Championship returned to Birmingham in 2006 with the new civic center hosting the event. For the first time in league history, the championship was competed on a platform with all of the events raised up off the floor in a set-up that more closely mirrored the national championship.This year, the league championship moves to North Little Rock, Ark., and the platform is again going to be used. The North Little Rock venue has seen its share of high profile Southeastern Conference events having hosted the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament twice, first in 2003, and again in 2006. Ironically, the SEC Women’s Basketball Championship moves to Duluth, Ga., and the Gwinnett Center – the site of the 2004 and 2005 gymnastics championships.
Up NextArkansas returns from back-to-back road meets (LSU and Utah) to host consecutive home meets. The Gym’Backs welcome No. 1 Florida Feb. 9, followed by No. 5 Alabama Feb. 16. The Gym’Backs then face a two-date road swing with meets at No. 22 Kentucky (FSN) and No. 11 Auburn, as conference meets wind down.