Ten Season-Bests Highlight Win The Gym’Backs got three event wins and 10 season or career bests in a Southeastern Conference win at Kentucky Friday. Casey Jo Magee tied her season best (9.850) , while Samantha Cortez (9.875)and Ashly McPherson (9.750) set new marks on the vault with Cortez winning the individual title. Emily Peacock (9.875) tied her season-high winning the bars title and tied her career high (9.875) winning the beam. Cassie Drew (9.825), Rachel Barnett (9.850) and Cortez (9.800) also recorded season-bests while the Gym’Backs posted a season-high 49.175 on the beam.
Success On The Road Arkansas posted a 195.850 marking the best road score of the 2007 season. In addition, that mark is the third-best road score in the for-plus year’s of gymnastics at Arkansas. See the box at the right for the top road scores in school history.
Arkansas Moves Up In Poll As a result of the strong team and individual performances, Arkansas jumped two spots to No. 12 in this week’s poll. As the poll switches to Regional Qualifying Scores (RQS) Arkansas was able to “erase” the lower-scoring Utah meet.
About This RQS 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.
Individuals In The Poll Arkansas has several individuals showing up in the rankings this week as well. Freshman Michelle Stout checks in at No. 24 on the vault with an RQS of 9.840. She is averaging 9.837 with a high of 9.95 this year. Junior Emily Peacock ranks 19th on bars this week with a 9.845 RQS. She is averaging 9.828 with a season-high 9.875. Freshman Casey Jo Magee is tied for 17th on beam this week. Magee has a 9.825 RQS with a 9.819 average. Her season/career-best is a 9.90.
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. 8 LSU, No. 12 Arkansas and No. 14 Auburn. Kentucky is just outside the top 25 checking in at No. 26 this week.
About Auburn Auburn and Arkansas enter this week’s meet with similar resumes. The Tigers are 4-5 overall and 104 in the SEC with their victory coming against Kentucky (as did Arkansas). The Tigers have fluttered around the No. 15 mark in the poll for much of the season. They were ranked ahead of Arkansas at No. 12 (while Arkansas was No. 14) last week and the teams flip-flop in the polls this week with Arkansas at No. 12 and Auburn at No. 14.
Arkansas Versus Auburn The series between these two teams has always been close and is tied at 4-4 heading into Friday’s meet. Arkansas has one win at Auburn with that coming in 2005 and the Gym’Backs have won both meetings in Fayetteville. Arkansas also finished ahead of Auburn at the SEC Championship in Duluth, Ga., in 2005. Auburn edged Arkansas at the SEC Championship last year in one of the closest meetings between the teams.
Arkansas, Auburn And The Rankings Arkansas enters this weekend’s meet ranked higher than Auburn (No. 12 versus No. 14). It is the third time in nine meetings that the Gym’Backs have had the upper hand in the rankings. Arkansas was ranked 13th and Auburn 29th in 2004 when the Gym’Backs downed the Tigers in 2003. Arkansas was no. 15 and Auburn 21st in an Arkansas win in 2005. Both times Arkansas out-ranked Auburn, the Gym’Backs won the meet.
Breanne Guy Leaves Team Arkansas sophomore Breanne Guy has decided to transfer at the end of the 2007 semester to be closer to home. Guy vaulted in all of Arkansas’ meets as a freshmen but struggled during the 2007 season. She will not compete at Arkansas for the rest of the 2007 season.
Arkansas Moves Up In The Region After four weeks in the No. 4 spot in the South Central Region, Arkansas moved up a spot to the No. 3 position. The Gym’Backs moved ahead of Arizona and trail Nebraska and Oklahoma. Arkansas faced, and lost, to Nebraska at the Super Six Challege but has not faced Oklahoma this season. The Gym’Backs host Missouri, Southeast Missouri and Texas Woman’s University, all of whom are also ranked, later this year in Barnhill Arena.
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 Kentucky, 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, two 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. With a pair of individual wins at Kentucky, junior Emily Peacock has 12 victories – the most ever in the history of the program.
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. Arkansas’ meet at Kentucky airs March 2 at 5:00 p.m. Central.
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.
2007 Opponents Doing Well In 2007 All but one of Arkansas’ 2007 opponents are ranked in the top 50 this week. Arizona State is not ranked at all because of a reporting issue. Florida, a team the Gym’Backs will face at least three times before the season ends, leads the pack and is ranked No. 1 again this week. Georgia is ranked second followed by No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Utah, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 8 LSU, No. 13 Denver, No. 14 Auburn, No. 16 Penn State, No. 19 Missouri, NO. 21 West Virginia, No. 26 Kentucky, No. 27 BYU, No. 34 SUU, No. 35 New Hampshire, No. 37 SEMO, No. 39 Pittsburgh and No. 49 TWU.
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.
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.
Senior Day Looms In The Distance Arkansas has just four regular season meets remaining before the SEC Championship in North Little Rock, Ark. The Gym’Back seniors are winding down there careers and the duo of Cassie Drew and Rachel Barnett will be celebrated in Arkansas’ final home meet. Drew and Barnett’s accomplishments will be reviewed following the Arkansas quad meet with Missouri, Southeast Missouri and Texas Woman’s University March 23, in Barnhill Arena. Stick around after the meet and thank these seniors.
Class Records Seeing Some Shake Up Arkansas has had a couple new entries into the class records (see page 49 of the 2007 media guide). Here’s a look at the latest entries. Michelle Stout set both a school and a freshman record for vault with a 9.95. Junior Emily Peacock tied the bars record and set the floor record with a 9.90 this year while junior Samantha Cotrez tied the junior vault record. Senior Cassie Drew tied the vault record for her class as well with a 9.80.
Up NextArkansas remains on the road at No. 14 Auburn this weekend before returning home for the first of two non-conference quad meets. The Gym’Backs host New Hampshire, Pittsburgh and West Virginia March 9, travel to Arizona State March 16 and celebrate Senior Night March 23 hosting Missouri, Southeast Missouri and Texas Woman’s University in the final home meet of the 2007 season.