FAYETTEVILLE – The 11th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team finds itself at the mid-point of the 2008 season and faces top-ranked Georgia on the road as Southeastern Conference action continues Saturday.
Arkansas heads into its eighth meet of the year on solid ground and in good position with about half of the schedule including postseason remaining.
This week, the Gym’Backs face No. 1 Georgia on the Gym Dogs home court in a meet that will be televised by FSN for SEC-TV.
“We always enjoy going to Georgia,” said Arkansas co-head coach Mark Cook. “We’re excited to get back at it this weekend and the atmosphere at Georgia is sure to be electric. It’s also the site of the NCAA Championship this year so it’s great to get into the venue and get comfortable with competing there.”
Arkansas is in the midst of one of the program’s most successful seasons having scored seven consecutive 195-plus totals including last week’s season-best 196.425 in an SEC win over Auburn. It is the most consistent and balanced seasons since Arkansas added gymnastics for the 2003 season.
“Last weekend was a great motivator,” said Cook. “It was one of our goals to break 196 and we validate all the hard work in the gym by getting there. The team was really excited after the meet to get that score but at the same time, they were not satisfied with that. We still made some little mistakes and we know that score could have been even better.”
Arkansas mixed up the lineup a bit against Auburn last week and some of the positions were still up in the air early in the week. Sophomore Ashly McPherson strained her neck last week and did not compete. McPherson, a Springdale, Ark., native, was expected to begin training again and will be a meet-time decision.
With McPherson out, sophomore Sarah Nagashima, who battled injuries early in the season, stepped in with a solid vault that might keep her in the lineup. Nagashima’s floor routine has also been improving and she could challenge for a spot in the competition order this week.
“Sarah is knocking on the door on the floor,” said Cook. “We do have a couple of things in flux right now but we’re going to put the best team we have on the floor this week.”
Georgia faces Arkansas in the final SEC meet for both teams. The Gym Dogs are undefeated in the league and a win over Arkansas will mark the third consecutive season and eighth in the last 12 that Georgia has run the table during the regular season.
The Georgia-Arkansas meet will be taped delayed on FSN South with a scheduled air date of March 8 at 4:30 p.m., central. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.