DULUTH, Ga. – The 11th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team tests its skills against the nation’s best at the 2008 Southeastern Conference Championships in Duluth, Ga., Saturday.
This is Arkansas’ sixth trip to the league championship since adding gymnastics in 2003 and this year the Gym’Backs are looking to better their previous performances.
“The season’s been long but it goes by so fast,” said co-head coach Mark Cook. “This year, our goal is to go in there and knock off some teams we haven’t before and move up a notch. The post season is the most exciting time of the year and we’re ready to go.”
“We’re definitely excited,” added co-head coach René Cook. “SECs are always a great experience. It’s a great venue and the atmosphere is electric. This year, we’re going in there to move up. We want to hit our routines and lay it all out on the line.”
The Gym’Backs will need all of that confidence and excitement Saturday as they face some of the nation’s top teams. Georgia enters the meet as the top-ranked team in the country followed by No. 3 Florida, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Alabama, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 13 Auburn and No. 20 Kentucky.
Despite the powerhouse teams in the field, the Gym’Backs like their position. Arkansas is coming off three consecutive meets with a 196 or better and notched a big road win defeating No. 8 UCLA in their home gym along with getting a win over No. 6 Alabama for the first time in program history.
“This team has so much confidence,” said René Cook. “They have faced so many different challenges and situations in competition this year and they continue to adjust to whatever is going on in the meet. The team is good about focusing when they need to and relaxing when they can.”
Adding to the meet’s excitement is the fact that teams will compete on podium. Each apparatus is elevated off the arena floor giving fans a better view of the action while spotlighting each routine.
The new competition twist is sometimes an adjustment for teams but this year’s Gym’Back squad is a bit more prepared than recent teams.
“Nearly everyone has competed on podium,” said René Cook. “It shouldn’t be such an adjustment like it was last year with six freshmen in the lineup.”
“We’re going to train a bit harder during our practice session,” added Mark Cook, “and really get the feel of the equipment. The podium makes things a bit more springy but we’ll be ready.”
Saturday’s meet is schedule for a 3:00 p.m. central start and will be televised by FSN. The first scheduled air date is April 6, at 3:00 p.m.
For more information about Arkansas gymnastics, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.