Arkansas’ gymnastics program is in its 10th season. In nine years, the Razorbacks have earned eight NCAA regional bids, won two NCAA regionals, advanced to the NCAA Championship five times, reached the NCAA Super Six, finished in the top 10 in the nation three times, finished ranked in the top 15 seven consecutive seasons, and produced 28 All-America selections and 13 NCAA individual event finals appearances.
In 2011, the Razorbacks tied for the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, won the NCAA North Central Regional, tied for ninth in the nation, recorded two wins over No. 1-ranked Florida, beat No. 4 Georgia, and set school records with seven dual-meet wins and four road wins.
The season begins in January with the Cancun Classic on Jan. 6. The home-opener is Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. in Barnhill Arena against Kentucky. Barnhill is also the site of the 2012 NCAA South Central Regional on April 7 at 4 p.m.
Tickets are now on sale by calling the Ticket Office at 800-982-HOGS (4647) or 479-575-5151, or by visiting the link below.
We’ll preview the 2012 season with a five-part series. The first was an overall outlook, followed by specific stories on vault, bars, beam and floor. This is the third story, which focuses on bars. Go back to find the story on the general preview and vault, and be sure to check back for upcoming stories.
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TOP BARS WORKERS:
Amy BorsellinoStephani CanizaroKatherine GrableMariah HowdeshellSammy KolbasJaime PisaniShelby SalmonJordan SalsbergGenny Salvatore
The senior class is expected to lead the bar team.
"We’ve really improved our lines and handstands," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "Jaime (Pisani) and Mariah (Howdeshell) are two of our top performers."
As a team, Arkansas posted highs last year of 49.20 in the win over Florida, 49.175 at the NCAA North Central Regional and in the win over West Virginia, and 49.025 in the win over Georgia.
The highlight in 2011 may have been Salvatore, who after four knee surgeries made the lineup and competed in the last nine meets of the season. In just her second meet, she won the individual title with a 9.80 against BYU. She had a 9.80 in her first outing at LSU and a high of 9.85 in the win over Florida.
Katherine Grable had bests of 9.825 at the NCAA Championship, the NCAA Regional and West Virginia. Howdeshell finished third at the NCAA Regional with a 9.90 and had a 9.85 at the SEC meet.
"Jordan (Salsberg) and Shelby (Salmon) have changed their combinations so they have better routines," Mark says. "Stephani (Canizaro) is a freshman who is fun to watch and Sammy (Kolbas) is a strong bar worker. She’s aggressive. Amy (Borsellino) is doing well. We’ve changed some combinations to eliminate some deductions and pushing the girls harder."
Pisani won individual titles against Alabama, Auburn and West Virginia. Howdeshell won at LSU and Salvatore against BYU. Pisani had highs of 9.90 against Florida and West Virginia, and a 9.85 at the regional. Salmon had a 9.80 against Florida and Georgia, and Salsberg a 9.80 at Auburn and four 9.775s.
"Their mentality is different," co-head coach René Cook says. "They are much more aggressive. As we went through the season last year, we felt that event was weak. The way they’ve been training, Mark has upped the expectations. They are mentally tougher."
The freshman class came in with strong credentials. Kolbas won the 2009 J.O. national title while Canizaro placed third at the 2011 J.O. National Championship.
Season Preview Part I
Season Preview Part II