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No. 11 Gym’Backs host No. 4 Florida Friday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 11 Gym’Backs host No. 4 Florida Friday

Gym’Backs’ second at tri-meetThe 12th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team traveled West for the first time this year facing No. 19 Washington and No. 21 Oregon State in tri-meet action. Arkansas posted a 195.550 finishing second behind the Beavers (195.975) and ahead of the Huskies (195.275) in the team’s first action against the Pacific-10 this season.
Vaulting into actionThe Gym’Backs were solid all around in the Washington tri-meet but really stepped it up on the vault. The team posted a season-best 48.975 and had four individuals set or tie season/career bests. Freshman Samantha Cortez led the way with a season/career best 9.850, followed by a season/career best from freshman Mallory Machnik with a 9.825. Junior Audra Loveless added a season-best 9.825 while sophomore Cassie Drew tied her season best with a 9.725.
Up, up and awayThe Gym’Backs enter the week ranked 11th – the highest mark of the 2005 season. The No. 11 ranking is just shy of the No. 9 ranking Arkansas had Jan. 12 of last year. The No. 9 ranking was based on the team’s high score which was 195.575 at that point.
Beam me up Arkansas ranks an all-time best fifth this week on the balance beam. The Gym’Backs have always considered the beam the team’s best event and the numbers bear that out. Arkansas is averaging 48.829 on the beam with a season-best 49.00 and an RQS of 48.795 this year.
In the light of the beamJunior Katie Hardman and sophomore Cassie Drew lead Arkansas on the beam and both are ranked tied for 20th in the nation this week. The duo both average a 9.817 on the event with Hardman, the school-record holder, posting a 9.90 at No. 4 LSU earlier this year.
Multi-MediaArkansas gymnastics goes multimedia this season when the Gym’Backs offer their meets online. Three of the five home meets will be available pay-per-view on LADYBACKS.COM while two events will air free of charge. In addition Arkansas is packaging athlete routines and will display some of that video on each athlete’s bio page in the weeks to come.
The friendly confinesArkansas finally competed at home in Barnhill Arena hosting Georgia. The meet was one of five home events with Gym’Backs welcoming Florida, Alabama, Missouri and hosting a quad this year. Arkansas was 8-6 in Barnhill Arena in the first two seasons of action and 0-1 this year for an 8-7 all-time mark. Arkansas hosts Florida this week falling to the Gators in Florida’s first appearance in Barnhill in 2003 by a 196.250-193.975 score.
Road wearyThe Gym’Backs are coming off their fifth road meet in six this year. Arkansas notched a 195.725 at No. 4 LSU and that mark stands as the best road score of the year.
About No. 4 FloridaThe No. 4 gators (8-2, 3-1 SEC) extended its dual-team meet winning streak to four Friday after a 196.525-194.00 defeat of No. 15 Auburn University (2-4, 1-4 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Florida performed well in every event, taking at least a share of every apparatus title. The Gators are having one of their best seasons in recent history and have notched wins over SEC powerhouses Georgia and Alabama this year. The Gators are ranked first in the nation this week on vault but are strong on the other events as well, ranking seventh on bars, third on beam and eighth on floor exercise.
Arkansas versus the Gators The Gym’Backs are 0-5 all-time against Florida. The teams have met once in Fayetteville in 2003, and one time each in Birmingham (SECs), Gainesville, Duluth, Ga. (SEC), and Tucson (Regionals). Here’s a look at the all-time scores:
FLORIDA (0-5)

1-17-03 No. 5 FL 196.250 AR 193.975 Fayetteville
3-29-03 No. 9 FL 195.950 No. 38 AR 194.875 Birmingham
2-2-0-04 No. 5 FL 197.375 No. 17 AR 195.925 Gainesville
3-20-04 No. 8 FL 197.225 No. 24 AR 194.825 Duluth
4-3-04 No. 8 FL 197.050 No. 25 AR 195.550 Tucson

On the horizonArkansas’ schedule continues to be tough. The Gym’Backs host the fourth-ranked Gators this Friday only to turn around and host No. 5 Alabama next Friday. Arkansas returns to the road facing No. 13 Denver in the Pioneers’ gym. The Gym’Backs finish out the regular season with No. 29 Missouri and hosting a quad meet that includes No. 6 UCLA, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 16 Oregon State. The Beavers vaulted into the No. 16 spot after edging Arkansas at Washington last week. OSU was No. 21 and moved five spots after the win. The post season begins with the Gym’Backs traveling to Duluth, Ga., facing the Southeastern Conference teams, all of whom are ranked in the top 20 this week.
More poll notesArkansas ranks third this week in the Central Region poll. The Gym’Backs trail both Nebraska and Oklahoma but are just ahead of Arizona and Arizona State.

Team Team Ave Region High RQS
1 Nebraska, U. of 195.646 SC 196.800 195.415
2 Oklahoma, U. of 195.437 SC 196.700 195.185
3 Arkansas, U. of 194.979 SC 195.725 194.830
4 Arizona, U. of 194.271 SC 195.225 194.080
5 Arizona State 194.037 SC 195.700 193.705
6 Illinois-Champaign 193.458 SC 194.150 193.320
7 Missouri, U. of 193.292 SC 196.225 192.705
8 Illinois-Chicago 191.617 SC 193.400 191.260
9 Northern Illinois Un 191.412 SC 191.925 0.000
10 S.E. Missouri 190.550 SC 192.275 0.000
11 Texas Woman’s Univ. 189.475 SC 193.225 0.000
12 Illinois State 188.325 SC 190.275 0.000

About the pollArkansas has been in and out of the poll in various spots the first two seasons finishing last year ranked 20th overall. The Gym’Backs entered 2005 ranked 24th in the preseason poll and have climbed as high as No. 12 this year. The Gym’Backs jump one spot to No. 11 as the poll moves into its second phase ranking teams by season average instead of high score.
More about the pollUnlike other collegiate athletic rankings, collegiate gymnastic rankings are not based on wins and losses or votes. Gymnastic teams are ranked by their meet scores alone. Teams are ranked by their highest score from Jan. 10-17. From Jan. 24-Feb. 14, teams will be ranked by their season average. Starting Feb. 21, teams and gymnasts will be ranked by a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). An RQS is based on a team’s top six regular-season scores, with three scores coming from away meets. To obtain the RQS, the team’s or gymnast’s highest score is dropped and the remaining five scores are averaged.
Captain, my captainThis year’s captains are juniors Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin. The honor is the second for McLeod (2003 and 2005) and the third for McQuillin (2003, 2004, 2005).
Injury updateJunior co-captain Hannah McLeod missed three meets at Kentucky, Auburn and against Georgia after spraining her ankle in practice. She returned to the lineup at No. 4 LSU vaulting for Arkansas and saw limited action at Washington. Freshman Samantha Cortez has been slowed by a sore back. Typically an all-arounder, Cortez competed only on the vault at Washington. She is improving each day and will be an event-day decision. Some of Arkansas’ other injuries include Jamie Barnett and Kim Harris. Both athletes continue to recover and gain strength after injuries and illness suffered last year. Finally, Kathy Thompson is out for the year with a torn Achilles Tendon.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)