ABOUT THE RAZORBACKS The University of Arkansas gymnastics team begins its seventh season of collegiate gymnastics. The program is under the direction of co-head coaches Mark and René Cook. This year’s team returns seven gymnasts and welcomes four newcomers for the 2009 season.
ARKANSAS OPENS YEAR 12th IN PRESEASON POLL The Razorbacks open the 2009 season ranked 12th in the preseason poll. It is the highest preseason ranking for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the program’s history.
2008 RECAP The 2008 season was the best in program history for Arkansas. The Razorbacks made the program’s second ever team appearance at the NCAA Championships. Arkansas finished a program-best 10th at the NCAA meet while celebrating the Razorbacks’ first two All-Americans as well as the program’s first event finalist.
ALL-AMERICANS RETURN Juniors Casey Jo Magee and Michelle Stout return for their third season as Razorbacks. Both earned All-America honors at last year’s NCAA Championship. Stout became a first-team All-American on the vault and became the first gymnast to earn a spot in the event finals. She finished fourth in the team competition to move on. Magee was a second-team All-American on both the vault and bars with fifth-place finishes on both events.
TAKE A LaCHANCE ON ME Alexandra LaChance returns as the lone senior for the 2009 season. The New Windsor, N.Y. native works vault, beam and floor for Arkansas this year.
JUNIOR CLASS EXPECTED TO LEAD Arkansas’ junior class will be heavily relied upon to lead this year’s team. Returning All-Americans Casey Jo Magee and Michelle Stout pace the class and team but they are joined by Amy DeFilippo and Sarah Nagashima both of whom account for much of the scoring. DeFilippo stands out on the beam and Nagashima on the bars but both could be a factor on all four events.
SOPHOMORE SUCCESS The sophomore class is a small one with Stacy Bartlett the lone returner – sort of. Bartlett was more than solid last year on the beam and will again be a factor in the lineup. The sort of comes from Molly Lewis. Lewis did not compete last year due to injury but returns in 2009 for her second season with the team. She is expected to make the lineup in a couple events this season.
NEW FACES IN THE CORRAL Arkansas welcomes four newcomers for the 2009 season. Joining the team this year is Mariah Howdeshell, Jaime Pisani, Genny Salvatore and Alyssa Strodel.
IN AND OUT Arkansas graduated a pair of seniors from last year’s team. The Razorbacks lost both Samantha Cortez and Emily Peacock to graduation. Cortez returns this year as the team’s Director of Gymnastics Operations and is working on her master’s degree. Also out are juniors juniors Allison Daniels and Ashly McPherson. Daniels retired from gymnastics to focus on her studies in the nursing program at Arkansas. McPherson transferred to LSU this year.
ABOUT OHIO STATE Ohio State comes to Fayetteville ranked 21st in the preseason poll after tying for 18th to end the 2008 season. Head coach Carey Fagan is in her fifth season leading the Buckeyes. Ohio State was 7-6-1 last year and 2-0-1 in the Big Ten. They finished seventh overall in the conference and was third at the NCAA Regional meet. The Buckeyes return eight letterwinners from a year ago.
ARKANSAS VERSUS OHIO STATE This is the first meeting between the Razorbacks and the Buckeyes.
Arkansas and Ohio State Series–First Meeting
ARKANSAS IN THE POLL Arkansas begins the 2009 season ranked 12th in the GymInfo.com preseason poll. The Razorbacks, who begin the year with the program’s highest preseason rankings, had one of its best seasons in history in 2008 graduating just two seniors from that squad. Arkansas was ranked No. 14 in 2008 and No. 15 in 2007.
THE SEC IN THE POLL Talk about tough. The Southeastern Conference is once again the league to beat with all seven of its members ranked in the top 25 to start the year. Nine-time defending National Champion Georgia grabbed the top spot and is followed by No. 3 Florida, No. 6 Alabama and No. LSU in the rankings. Arkansas checks in at No. 12, with No. 15 Auburn and No. 25 Kentucky rounding out the SEC’s representation this week.
ARKANSAS’ SCHEDULE VERSUS THE POLL Nearly every team on Arkansas’ 2009 schedule is ranked in the preseason top 25 this year. The schedule includes No. 1 Georgia, No. 3 Florida, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 LSU, No. 9 Oregon State, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 15 Auburn, No. 21 Ohio State, No. 22 Minnesota, No. 25 Kentucky and California who is receiving votes. The Razorbacks travel to Texas Woman’s and face TWU as well as Pennsylvania – they are the only two teams not mentioned in this week’s poll.
SPEAKING OF THE SCHEDULE This year, the Razorbacks face some new challenges with its schedule. Arkansas takes on No. 21 Ohio State, California, Bowling Green and Pennsylvania for the first time in program history. Arkansas also travels to Oklahoma for the first time and it is the first regular-season meeting for the teams. Other interesting twist comes Jan. 23 and 26. The Razorbacks have a home meet with No. 3 Florida on Friday and turn around to travel to No. 10 Oklahoma Monday for a meet. It is common in the SEC for teams to have the quick turn-around but it is a first for the Razorbacks.
TELEVISION SCHEDULE FOR RAZORBACKS Once again Arkansas will be well-represented on television. CST will carry Arkansas’ meet with Florida and the Alabama meet airs on ESPN2.
2009 SEC Gymnastics Television Schedule
|DATE||MEET||FIRST AIR DATE / TIME (ET)*||NETWORK|
|1/16||GEORGIA @ LSU||1/24 @ 7 p.m.||FSN|
|1/23||ALABAMA @ GEORGIA||2/8 @ 4 p.m.||ESPN2|
|1/30||ALABAMA @ ARKANSAS||2/15 @ 6 p.m.||ESPN2|
|1/30||KENTUCKY @ FLORIDA||2/7 @ 9:30 p.m.||FSN|
|2/6||FLORIDA @ LSU||2/14 @ Noon||FSN|
|2/27||AUBURN @ ALABAMA||3/6 @ 6:30 p.m.||FSN|
|2/28||FLORIDA @ GEORGIA||3/8 @ 11 a.m.||ESPN2|
|(Sommet Center-Nashville, TN)||3/28 @ 7 p.m.||FSN|
* subject to change * ESPN2 telecasts will be available in 90 million homes across the nation. * FOX Sports telecasts will be available in 28 million homes across the region on FOX Sports Net South, Sun Sports Network and FOX Sports Net Southwest. * SEC-TV airs Thursday nights at 6:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm CT
UP NEXT FOR ARKANSAS The Razorbacks’ challenging schedule continues this year at No. 9 Oregon State where they face both the Beavers and California. Arkansas returns home hosting No. 3 Florida Friday, Jan. 23, followed by a quick turn-around Monday, Jan. 26, at No. 10 Oklahoma.