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Home finale vs. WVU

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Home finale vs. WVU

FAYETTEVILLE – Coming off its two best performances of the year, including the win over No. 1 Florida, Arkansas’ 12th-ranked gymnastics team closes its home schedule with Friday’s 7 p.m. meet against West Virginia in Barnhill Arena.

The Mountaineers are ranked No. 27.

Arkansas has won six of its last seven and is 6-3 for the year. The win over the top-ranked Gators gives Arkansas a 5-1 Southeastern Conference mark and a share of the regular-season championship.

Arkansas scored a season-high 196.70 in the win over Florida on Friday and followed with its best road score of the season two days later with a 196.50 in Sunday’s win at No. 45 Illinois-Chicago.

"The last week or so has been really good," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "The girls have been really relaxed and poised. The win over Florida was big in a lot of ways. That created some momentum and that carried over to Chicago. The girls are performing the way we knew they could. They are doing everything possible to be the best they can be."

In the individual events, Arkansas is No. 12 on vault, No. 19 on bars, No. 12 on beam and No. 7 on floor. West Virginia is No. 17 on vault, No. 28 on bars, No. 31 on beam and No. 24 on floor.

"We need the same consistency and level of enthusiasm this week that we had last week," co-head coach René Cook says. "This is an important meet for us because we’re still counting a low score."

"We need to be a little sharper and get ready for the last away meet of the year," Mark Cook says. "We need to keep our momentum going."

Arkansas’ six dual meet wins ties the school record first set in 2009 when the Razorbacks advanced to the NCAA Super Six and finished fifth in the country.

WVU is the ninth top 30 opponent of the season in 10 meets for the Razorbacks.

"Our attitude has been very positive," junior Genny Salvatore says. "(The Florida meet) was great for our freshmen to see how much fun a meet is when there is so much energy and excitement. We’re excited to move forward with that same attitude."

Individually, Arkansas is led by junior All-American Jaime Pisani. She is this week’s SEC Gymnast of the Week after winning a total of seven individual titles in the two meets last week. She tied the school record with a 9.95 floor at UIC, matched the sixth-best bars with a 9.90 against Florida, tied the seventh-best vault with a 9.925 against Florida and equaled the fifth-best all-around total with a career-high 39.60 against the Gators.

Pisani is ranked No. 3 in the nation on floor, No. 11 on vault and tied for No. 8 in the all-around.

Other event winners from last week include senior All-American Michelle Stout on bars, and sophomore Jordan Salsberg and freshman Katherine Grable on beam, all at UIC.

Arkansas’ lineup last week on vault was sophomore Kelci Lewis, Salsberg, freshman Scarlett Williams, Grable, Pisani and Stout. On bars, Salsberg led off and was followed by Salvatore, freshman Shelby Salmon, junior Mariah Howdeshell, Pisani and Stout. Williams was first on bars, followed by Pisani, Salsberg, Howdeshell, Grable and senior Stacy Bartlett. On floor, freshman Bailee Zumwalde was first, followed by Bartlett, Salsberg, Lewis, Grable and Pisani.

Friday is also Senior Night for Bartlett and Stout.

"They’ve given their best and everything they have to the program," Mark Cook says. "It’s nice because we get to see these student-athletes finish their last year of competition with class."

In her career, Stout has won 24 individual event titles, earned All-America honors in 2008 and 2009 before missing last year with an injury, earned All-SEC and SEC Gymnast of the Week honors, been named to the SEC and university academic honor rolls, earned scholar-athlete recognition from the National Association for Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women, set the school record with a 9.975 vault at the 2009 NCAA Championship Session II semifinal, and helped Arkansas reach the NCAA Championship in 2008 and 2009 with a fifth-place national finish in 2009.

Bartlett has been in the competition lineup 62 times with her scores counting for the team 43 times, she closed the meet at No. 22 Auburn this year with a 9.775 on beam to secure the team win, she has earned the team’s scholar-athlete of the year award twice, been named to the SEC and university academic honor rolls, and earned scholar-athlete recognition from the National Association for Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women.

"Michelle helped take this program to another level and Stacy has been an unsung hero," René Cook says. "We’re excited to celebrate their careers on Friday."

Following the West Virginia meet, Arkansas is on the road at Denver on March 12 and then travels to Birmingham for the SEC Championship on March 19.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)