Fayetteville, Ark. – The Arkansas gymnastics team officially opened practice for the 2018 season Monday, after the team reported to campus in mid-August for conditioning and open gym sessions.
The Razorbacks return fifth-year senior Amanda Wellick who suffered a season-ending injury in January of last season and missed what would’ve been her senior season. She has since returned to the gym and is expected to be in Arkansas’ lineup this season.
“It feels really good to be back in the gym and training again.” Wellick said. “I’m really excited about official practices starting. This team has a lot of grit and determination and we’re just ready to get started.”
Arkansas also welcomes back NCAA Individual participants Braie Speed and Jessica Yamzon. Yamzon earned a spot at the NCAA Championships last season as a freshman, scoring a 38.925 in the all-around. Speed posted a 9.825 on the vault at NCAA’s, tying her third-best score from last season.
In total, ten gymnasts return from the 2017 season.
Arkansas welcomes five freshmen who were level 10 gymnasts for the 2018 campaign in Sophia Carter, Kailey Gillings, Sydney Laird, Lakin Legereit and Ellie Wylie.
In August, head coach Mark Cook welcomed Garrett and Courtney (McCool) Griffeth to the coaching staff. Griffeth joins the Razorbacks as an assistant coach, while McCool Griffeth will serve as a volunteer coach.
Griffeth joins the Razorbacks after three seasons with Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas. He earned Midwest Independent Conference Assistant Coach of the Year in 2017, while helping the Pioneers win the title at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championship and a runner-up finish at the MIC Championship.
Griffeth also has experience at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, the University of Georgia and the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts.
McCool Griffeth was a member of the 2004 USA Olympic Gymnastics Team that won the silver medal in Athens, Greece. From 2007-10, she was a member of the University of Georgia gymnastics team and helped the Bulldogs to three NCAA National Championships. While at Georgia, she was a three-time first team All-American and won the 2008 NCAA Individual National Championship on floor.
Loaded 2018 Schedule
The Razorbacks face a tough 2018 schedule that includes four teams from last year’s Super Six including the defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners. Thirteen of 15 opponents were NCAA Regional participants in 2017, while six were among the final 12 teams that advanced to the NCAA Championship.
The season begins Jan. 5 in Baton Rouge, La., against 2017 national runner-up LSU. The full schedule can be found here.
The Razorbacks will have six intrasquad meets with the final one scheduled for December 19 in Barnhill Arena. The meet will be open to the public with a time to be announced at a later date.
For more information follow @RazorbackGym on Twitter.