FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ sixth-ranked gymnastics team is back home to face another top 20 opponent this week when No. 11 LSU visits Barnhill Arena for Friday’s 7 p.m. meet.
Every opponent for the Razorbacks has been in the top 20 at the time of the meet with Arkansas, including No. 20 Arizona, No. 8 Florida, No. 3 Alabama, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 16 Auburn, No. 9 Georgia and now No. 11 LSU.
Arkansas was ranked No. 3 last week, which tied the highest in school history, but is No. 6 this week. The Razorbacks (3-3) have an average score of 196.079 while LSU isn’t far behind at 195.563. Arkansas is also No. 3 on beam, tied for No. 5 on bars, No. 9 on floor and No. 12 on vault.
Arkansas and LSU last competed against each other in last season’s NCAA Super Six. The Razorbacks had never beaten the Tigers, but upset No. 6 LSU, 196.475-196.375, to finish fifth in the nation. LSU had won the previous 18 meetings, including last year’s regular-season meet in Baton Rouge, 196.150-195.800.
"We’ve only beaten them once and that was at nationals last year," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "It will be interesting, hard-fought competition. Our team is motivated and fired up."
Eight letterwinners and four All-Americans returned from last year’s team for LSU head coach D-D Breaux, who is in her 33rd season with the Tigers. Fifteen of the previous 19 meetings have been between teams ranked in the top 20, including the last 11.
Arkansas is led by three of the nation’s top 15 all-arounders. Arkansas and UCLA are the only schools in the nation with three in the top 15. Sophomore Jaime Pisani is No. 8, senior Casey Jo Magee is tied for No. 9 and senior Amy DeFilippo is No. 14.
DeFilippo missed last week’s meet at No. 9 Georgia and may be out again this week.
"We’re probably going to rest her knee one more week," Cook says. "We’ll probably have a few minor changes in our lineup."Arkansas lost the meet at Georgia, but Cook felt good about his team’s performance. Arkansas had a 195.875 total with its best vault (49.25) and beam (49.025) scores on the road this season.
"It was a hard-fought contest," Cook says. "We did pretty well. We had a few mistakes here and there, but that was a pretty good away score. It was good competition, but we’re ready to be back home."
Freshman Kelci Lewis competed as an all-arounder for the first time last week and is expected to do so again this week. She had competed on vault, bars and floor in each of the first five meets, but added beam for the first time last week, and had an all-around total of 38.775.
Promotions for this week’s home meet include Tyson Foods as the presenting sponsor, a team photo card giveaway (sponsored by Tyson Foods), NWA Girl Scout Night, Junior Razorback Night, autographs with team members following the meet, a UA student giveaway for a Nintendo Wii with a game package and pre-meet entertainment from the Williams Center Dance Team.