FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ 12th-ranked gymnastics team won the NCAA North Central Regional in Denver on Saturday and has advanced to the NCAA Championship for the fourth straight season.
The championship is April 15-17 in Cleveland, and the Razorbacks are in the field for the fifth time in six years.
The top two teams from each region earned a spot in the finals, but the Razorbacks assured their position by winning an NCAA Regional for the second time. Arkansas won the South Central Region in Fayetteville in 2009, the same year it advanced to the Super Six and finished fifth in the nation.
This past weekend, Arkansas, the second seed, upset top seed and No. 1-ranked Florida for the second time this year. The Razorbacks also knocked off No. 13 Boise State, No. 19 Denver, No. 20 Arizona and No. 27 Brigham Young.
In Cleveland, Arkansas is in the NCAA Session I Semifinal in the afternoon.
The Razorbacks are joined by No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 6 UCLA, No. 8 Georgia, No. 9 Michigan and No. 14 Illinois.
"The teams in both sessions are very talented," co-head coach Rene Cook says. "Everyone is very good, but we’re comfortable with where we are. The teams with the cleanest routines advance to the Super Six."
The top three teams from each session advance to the Super Six on April 16.
"There are pros and cons to being in either session," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "If you’re trying to get to the Super Six and compete for a championship, the first session is better because you have more time to rest. From that standpoint, that’s a good session. It’s a strong field, but we think we have an opportunity to be in the top three."
The Session II semifinal, later that night, includes No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon State, No. 7 Utah, No. 10 Nebraska and No. 24 Kent State.
Arkansas’ rotation for the meet is vault, bye, bars, beam, bye and floor.
"We’re excited to be on vault first," Rene Cook says. "That’s a strong event for us. Most of the year we have started on vault."
"That’s the rotation we prefer," Mark Cook says. "The Olympic order is what we’ve had most of the year and we’re a strong vaulting team. We’re also a strong floor team and that’s where we end."
Arkansas had its second-best score ever for a regional with a 196.55. The Razorbacks opened on beam with a 48.90, followed by a 49.30 on floor, 49.175 on vault and 49.175 on bars.
The floor score is a school record for a regional while the vault score ties for third, the bars score ranks third and the beam score ranks fifth.
Arkansas had three of the top six all-arounders in the regional with freshman Katherine Grable finished second, junior All-American Jaime Pisani third and sophomore Jordan Salsberg sixth.
Pisani set a school record for a regional with a 9.95 floor, winning the event and tying the overall school record, which she already shared. Grable won vault with a 9.90, which tied the school regional record.