comscore script

Gym’Backs host Gala on Sunday.

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Gym’Backs host Gala on Sunday.

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas gymnastics team opens the 2005 season Sunday hosting the Third Annual Gym’Back Gala in Barnhill Arena at 3:00 p.m. The Gym’Backs, in just their third season of existence, will use the Gala to showcase a strong corps of returners and give fans a look at several newcomers as well. "We’re so excited about getting started," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "The Gala gives us an opportunity to see where we are at this time and how we will perform in a meet-like setting." This year’s event features some changes from the previous two. The Gala will run like a Red-White meet with the Gym’Backs divided into two teams. There will be head-to-head competition between the teams and fan judges selected from the crowd will have the opportunity to "score" the meet. "This is a great way to get a lot of people involved and to invite some of our fans down to the floor for an up close look," said Cook. "We’ll have pre-printed score cards and the fan judges can just hold up a score." Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for youth and students. The Gym’Backs are teaming with the Humane Society of the Ozarks for this event as well and admission is free with the donation of a pet food item or a new toy or supply. Fans are also invited to an autograph session with the entire Gym’Back team following the meet. Beyond the obvious fun atmosphere of the meet, Gym’Back fans will be treated to some great gymnastics. Arkansas returns six juniors from last year’s NCAA Regional team and the Gym’Backs open the year ranked 24th in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches Top 25. All-Southeastern Conference performer Melissa Leigh returns along with the Gym’Backs first SEC Gymnast of the Week Dana McQuillin. The other juniors include Hannah McLeod, Katie Hardman, Kim Harris and Audra Loveless. "We have a little more strength on each event," noted co-head coach Mark Cook. "We’ve increased the difficulty on bars and floor and beam is a solid foundation for us." "We have more maturity this year and things are running very smoothly," added Rene Cook. "We’re able to spend more time focusing on what’s going on in the gym thanks to that upperclassmen leadership." The Gym’Backs vault into the regular season with three consecutive road meets to star the year. Arkansas travels to Minnesota, who is receiving votes in the preseason poll, Jan. 8, followed by the SEC opener at Kentucky Jan. 14. The Wildcats are also getting votes in the poll. Arkansas continues SEC action at No. 16 Auburn Jan. 21, before hosting No. 2 and 2004 NCAA runner-up Georgia in Barnhill Arena Jan. 28, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the 2005 season are currently on sale at the Lady Razorback Ticket Office and on-line at www.ladybacks.com. For more information please call the ticket office at 57-LBACK.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)