FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas gymnastics team officially vaulted into the 2006 season today with their first official team practice in the Huntley Gymnastics Training Facility.
The Gym’Backs are entering the fourth season of the program’s existence and there is much excitement surrounding their inaugural senior class.
The five-member senior class includes Katie Hardman, Melissa Leigh, Audra Loveless, Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin.
With the team from the beginning, the five-some have guided Arkansas to several milestones in the first three seasons.
Leigh became the first all-Southeastern Conference selection in 2004 on the bars. That same year, Arkansas made it’s first NCAA Regional appearance, a feat they duplicated last year. McQuillin became the first Gym’Back to qualify for the NCAA Championships last year while helping Arkansas to a program-high No. 13 ranking at the midpoint of the season.
The success in the gym has translated into Arkansas being one of the top collegiate gymnastics draws in the country. The program has been ranked fourth, fifth or sixth in the nation for average attendance in each of the first three seasons.
The Gym’Backs have also found success in the classroom ranking in the top 10 in the nation academically.
This year’s team features an exciting blend of old and new. The five seniors team with a solid corps of juniors and sophomores while welcoming four freshmen to the fold.
In addition, this year’s team faces a challenging but fun schedule opening with a meet in Hawai’i, Jan. 3. The first of three consecutive road meets is followed by trips to Missouri and national powerhouse Georgia.
Arkansas first home meet sees the Gym’Backs host LSU Jan. 27, followed by the team’s first meeting with Penn State. The Gym’Backs face Florida and Alabama on the road, before hosting their longest home stand with Kentucky, Auburn and Washington coming to Barnhill Arena.
A first-time trip to Nebraska is followed by the SEC Championships. The Gym’Backs then host the program’s first NCAA Regional meet April 8.
For more information about Arkansas gymnastics or for ticket information please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.