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No. 11 in Pre-Season Ranking

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 11 in Pre-Season Ranking

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ gymnastics team finished the 2010 season No. 11 in the nation and that’s where the Razorbacks begin the 2011 season, in the No. 11 position in the GymInfo pre-season rankings, which were announced on Wednesday.

"It’s always nice to be mentioned among the top teams in the country," co-head coach René Cook says. "We feel like we belong in that group, but we want to be there at the end of the season. We have a talented team, we are working hard and we hope we do even better than that prediction."

The Razorbacks are a national power with six final top 15 rankings for six consecutive seasons. Entering its ninth season of existence, Arkansas’ program has earned seven straight NCAA Regional bids, advanced to the NCAA Championship three straight years, produced 21 All-America selections and 10 appearances in the NCAA individual event finals.

The 2010 squad finished second in the NCAA West Regional, placed fifth in the NCAA Championship Session II semifinal, ranked No. 11 in the country, beat eight teams ranked in the top 25, ranked No. 11 in the nation in attendance average, led the Southeastern Conference and ranked No. 16 in the nation with a team grade point average of 3.4369, and produced seven All-America selections and six appearances in the NCAA individual event finals.

This year’s team, which faces nine teams ranked in the top 26, is led by a pair of All-Americans. Junior Jaime Pisani earned three All-America honors last year – first-team on floor and vault, and second-team in the all-around. She also finished 10th on floor and tied for 12th on vault at the NCAA individual event finals. Senior Michelle Stout, who missed 2010 with an injury, is the other returning All-American. She was a first-teamer on vault in 2008, and on vault, bars and in the all-around in 2009. She was also a second-teamer on floor in 2009. The first first-team All-American in school history, she was also the first to qualify for the NCAA individual event finals. She placed fourth on vault in 2008. In 2009, she was fifth on vault and tied for seventh on bars.

Other returnees are senior Stacy Bartlett, juniors Mariah Howdeshell and Genny Salvatore, and sophomores Natalie Bohonsky, Amy Borsellino, Kelci Lewis and Amanda Siebert.

Arkansas welcomes five newcomers this year, including sophomore Jordan Salsberg, a transfer from Southeast Missouri State, and freshmen Katherine Grable, Shelby Salmon, Scarlett Williams and Bailee Zumwalde.

Once again, Arkansas is competing against the top programs in the nation.

In 2011, the Razorbacks have dual meets against No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 7 Georgia, No. 12 LSU, No. 15 Auburn, No. 16 Denver, No. 24 Kentucky, No. 26 West Virginia and No. 39 Brigham Young.

"One of the reasons we have one of the top programs in the country is because we compete against top programs," Cook says. "That makes us better and prepares us for the post-season. We have a good home schedule and look forward to performing for our fans."

Arkansas opens the year on Jan. 7 at No. 4 Oklahoma.

The home opener is Jan. 14 against No. 2 Alabama. Other home meets are Feb. 4 against No. 7 Georgia, Feb. 18 against No. 39 BYU, Feb. 25 against No. 3 Florida and March 4 against No. 26 West Virginia. Road meets are at OU, Jan. 21 at No. 24 Kentucky, Jan. 28 at No. 15 Auburn, Feb. 11 at No. 12 LSU, Feb. 27 at Illinois-Chicago and March 12 at No. 16 Denver.

2011 GymInfo Pre-Season Rankings

Rank

Team (first-place votes)

Points

1

UCLA (32)

1035

2

Alabama (3)

950

3

Florida (3)

948

4

Oklahoma (2)

881

5

Utah (1)

853

6

Stanford (1)

818

7

Georgia

749

8

Oregon St.

702

9

Michigan

696

10

Nebraska

691

11

Arkansas

648

12

LSU

647

13

Missouri

479

14

Penn St.

456

15

Auburn

415

16

Denver

361

17

Illinois

333

18

Boise St.

311

19

Arizona

274

20

Southern Utah

195

21

Washington

191

22

Iowa St.

114

23

Minnesota

109

24

Kentucky

102

25

Arizona St.

100



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)