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Gym’Backs travel to Georgia Friday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Gym’Backs travel to Georgia Friday

FAYETTEVILLE — The 24th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team continues its grueling road schedule traveling to third-ranked Georgia Friday for a 6:30 p.m., meet. The Gym’Backs have opened the year with back-to-back road meets at Hawai’i and Missouri and, despite some solid routines, have seen lower scores. Defending national champion Georgia, behind Courtney Kupets, this week’s Southeastern Conference gymnast of the week, tallied a 195, against Maryland at home last week. "We are very excited for the trip to Athens," said Arkansas co-head coach Rene Cook. "The team is looking for a chance to redeem themselves after a few falls last week. We’ve had some missed opportunities but we’ve worked really hard on handling some of the pressure situations this week." Senior all-arounder Dana McQuillin has been a solid anchor for the Gym’Backs this year. The lone Gym’Back to see action at the national meet last year, the West Orange, N.J., native has been a leader again this season. Junior all-arounder Cassie Drew has also been solid along with junior Rachel Barnett. Barnett made big strides between the first and second meet of the year and her progress has been noticed. "Rachel’s competitiveness has been great even in the off-season," said Rene Cook. "She’s really rising to the occasion in the meets." Sophomores Emily Peacock and Samantha Cortez are also taking big steps for Arkansas. Both of the Gym’Backs have exhibitioned as all-arounders and either could find themselves in the lineup on all four events. "Our skills are good. Our routines are good," said Rene Cook. "When we hit we’re good. I’m confident that it (the scores) will work itself out. When people see us as home, fans will see a good team." As the Gym’Backs continue through the 2006 season, the team celebrates its first senior class. Joining McQuillin are seniors Katie Hardman, Melissa Leigh, Audra Loveless and Hannah McLeod. Leigh is a bars specialist while Loveless vaults and performs on the floor exercise. McLeod has competed on both bars and beam this year. Hardman, still rehabbing an injury, has not yet been in the lineup but is hopeful to return against LSU next week. "Our team chemistry has been great this year," said co-head coach Mark Cook. "Being on the road has been good but we’re definitely looking forward to getting home and showing our home fans what we can do." Arkansas opens the 2006 home schedule Friday, Jan. 27, hosting No. 14 LSU at 7:00 p.m., in Barnhill Arena. The LSU meet is the first of five regular season home meets this year. Arkansas has also been selected to host the 2006 NCAA South Central Regional April 8 in Barnhill. Tickets for the regular season events as well as the regional are currently on sale at the Lady Razorback Ticket Office. Please call 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)