FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 8-ranked University of Arkansas women’s gymnastics team returns to Barnhill Arena after a 21-day hiatus on Friday night, as they host the co-defending NCAA National Champion, and second-ranked, Florida, for its annual ‘Light Up The Night’ meet. Events begin at 6:45 p.m. and will be webcast on the SEC Network+ via Watch ESPN and also be shown on tape-delay on the SEC Network on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. CST.
|No. 8 Arkansas (2-4) vs. No. 2 Florida (3-1)|
|Feb. 6, 2015 | 6:45 p.m.|
|Barnhill Arena | Fayetteville, Ark.|
|Arkansas | Florida | SEC|
|Click Here (Will Be Made Live At Meet Time)|
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Arkansas comes into Friday’s meet ranked as the eighth-best team in the Gyminfo Rankings for the second-consecutive week with an average score of 195.931. The Razorbacks were featured inside the top 15 in three events, as they boast the sixth-highest floor exercise score in the nation (49.231), the 11th-best vault score (49.194) and tied for No. 14 on the uneven bars with a 48.950.
Head coach Mark Cook’s team has had one meet inside Barnhill Arena this season, and posted a season-best score of 196.375 to upset No. 6 Alabama.
For Florida, they moved up one spot to No. 2 in this week’s Gyminfo rankings with a 197.131 average. The co-defending champion ranks inside the top five in all four events, as they are a No. 3 on the uneven bars with a score of 49.325, No. 4 on the vault (49.400) and tied for fifth on both the balance beam (49.119) and floor exercise (49.2.88).
The Gators are averaging a 196.863 on the road through two meets.
The Last Time Out
The eighth-ranked Razorbacks posted their second-straight 196.250 score last Saturday at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. The score allowed them to finish third in the event behind No. 1 Oklahoma and then No. 2 LSU. Arkansas was led by sophomore Amanda Wellick, as she posted three 9.8-plus scores, including a pair of 9.875’s on the vault and floor exercise to capture an all-around score of 39.350.
Light Up The Night
Friday’s meet will be the annual ‘Light Up The Night’ promotion at Barnhill Arena. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free pair of red glow-in-the-dark glasses. The first 250 Arkansas students in attendance will also receive a free Arkansas gymnastics t-shirt.
The big promotion of the night will be a handstand contest, where the winner will get a free pair of braces courtesy of meet sponsor, Arkansas Braces. The contest will feature 20 contestants, with 12 being pre-selected, while the remaining eight will be chosen the meet, and the person who holds the longest handstand will win. Fans wanting to be pre-selected can do so by going to any northwest Arkansas area Arkansas Braces or by filling out the forum here.
The Gators lead the all-time series 32-3, in an annual meeting that dates back to the inaugural 2003 season. In their last meeting on March 22, 2014, Florida defeated Arkansas, 197.700-196.100, to place second at the SEC Championship. Two of the three Razorbacks wins over the Gators have come inside Barnhill Arena, with the most recent coming on Feb. 25, 2011, when Arkansas captured a 196.700-196.100 victory.
Welcome Back To Barnhill
Barnhill Arena will be a sight for sore eyes for the Razorbacks on Friday, as they will compete at home for the first time in 21 days. Friday’s meet will be only the second home event for the Razorbacks this season, as they upset No. 6 Alabama, 196.375-196.125, in their last home meet.
Top 10 Again
For the second-straight week, the Arkansas gymnastics team was placed inside the Gyminfo Rankings Top 10, coming in at No. 8 for the second-consecutive week. It also marks the second-straight year that the Razorbacks have spent multiply weeks inside the top 10. Last season, they occupied the No. 10 spot for a three-week stretch from Jan. 13 to Jan. 31.
For the third-straight week, Arkansas is ranked inside the top 10 in the floor exercise, as they come in at No. 6 in this week’s Gyminfo Rankings with a 49.231 team average score. The Razorbacks have three gymnasts ranked inside the top 30 nationally, as sophomores Amanda Wellick and Samantha Nelson are in a tie for eighth (9.9) and 16th (9.875) respectively. Junior Heather Elswick also comes into this week in a tie for the 27th-best average score on the floor with a 9.856.
Sticking Their Landing
The Razorbacks come into Friday’s meet ranked 11th nationally on vault. Arkansas is holding an average score of 49.195. Sophomore Amanda Wellick is currently tied for the 20th-best scoring average in the nation with a 9.894 average through four meets. Junior Heather Elswick is also ranked inside the top 30, as her mark of 9.869 is the 28th-best average in the nation.
Facing The Nation’s Best
Friday’s meet against the second-ranked Gators will mark the second-straight week that Arkansas will face a top-two team in the nation, as they competed against No. 1 Oklahoma and then No. 2 LSU at last weekend’s Metroplex Challenge. In fact, Arkansas has faced either the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the nation in three of the five meets they’ve competed in this season.
Zaziski’s Career Night
Freshman Paige Zaziski put on a remarkable display at the Metroplex Challege by setting three new career-best scores and tying another. The Chesterfield Township, Mich., native posted new career-highs on the uneven bars (9.875), floor exercise (9.750) and all-around (39.275), while tying her personal-best mark on the vault with a 9.900.
She’s A Natural
Sophomore Samantha Nelson scored a career-best 9.850 on the vault last week at the Metroplex Challenge. It was just Nelson’s fourth career collegiate attempt on the vault. The Peabody, Mass., native entered the vault rotation this season and has produced three 9.8-plus scores through her first four attempts. She opened the year with a 9.825 at No. 2 Oklahoma and tied the score the following week against No. 6 Alabama.
A Texas-Sized Debut
Senior Cailee Ellsworth made her 2015 debut at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. The Allen, Texas native did not disappoint her hometown fans in attendance, as she scored a career-best 9.775 on the uneven bars.
Sophomore Amanda Wellick has been racking up the event titles in a rapid pace this season, as she has won six event titles through four meets this season. The Wheaton, Ill., native has captured two all-around titles, two floor exercise titles and two vault titles. Last week at Auburn, she won both the vault and floor exercise titles.
For more information on the Arkansas women’s gymnastics team, follow @RazorbackGym on Twitter.