FAYETTEVILLE – The 10th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team hosts No. 12 Penn State in non-conference action Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Barnhill Arena.
The Gym’Backs opened 2008 in mid-season form with a pair of 195-plus marks that moved them up in the national rankings. Arkansas’ most recent outing was a narrow loss to No. 7 LSU last week in one of the closest meets against the Tigers.
Arkansas is again at home this week hosting Penn State, a team the Gym’Backs have faced several times over the last two seasons.
“We are excited to be at home again this week,” said co-head coach Rene Cook. “We are very familiar with Penn State and with their program. We are again facing a team that is ranked pretty close to us and we’re looking forward to getting out there and competing again this week.”
One of the keys to Arkansas’ early season success has been balance. The Gym’Backs have competed three all-arounders in senior Samantha Cortez and sophomores Casey Jo Magee and Amy DeFilippo. Cortez and Magee are again scheduled to compete all four events this week.
Senior Emily Peacock and junior Alexandra LaChance have also been a big part of the team’s consistency. Both are three-event specialists who have been solid this year.
“Alex has been really consistent,” said Cook. “She’s really enjoying gymnastics and it shows in her marks this year. She’s learned new skills on every event this year.”
The Gym’Backs face a grueling Southeastern Conference slate in 2008 with five of the league teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation this week. Florida leads the country at No. 1 this week followed by No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 Alabama, No. 5 LSU and No. 10 Arkansas. Auburn is ranked No. 17 and No. 26 Kentucky round out the SEC members.
Arkansas next has a pair of road matches at Florida followed by a trip to Alabama. Both matches will be televised with the Florida match airing on SUN and the Alabama match carried by ESPN.
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