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No. 12 Gym’Backs face tough Pac-10 test

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 12 Gym’Backs face tough Pac-10 test

FAYETTEVILLE — The 12th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team faces its fifth road opponent in six meets Friday traveling to No. 19 Washington for a tri-meet in Seattle. Arkansas, 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference, also faces No. 21 Oregon State in a meet that was originally slated as a quad meet. Seattle Pacific dropped out, however, bring the field to three. Arkansas has had a solid start to the 2005 campaign despite the long road stand. The Gym’Backs opened at Minnesota with a win followed by back-to-back SEC road wins over No. 10 Kentucky and No. 12 Auburn. Arkansas notched a near-win moral victory over No. 6 Georgia at home before falling last week at No. 4 LSU in Baton Rouge, La. The Gym’Backs are taking on Washington and Oregon State both for the first time in the program’s three-year history. The Huskies are 8-1 on the year and coming off a season-best 195.00 last week. The Beavers are 4-3 on the year after a Pac-10 win over Arizona State last weekend. "We’re headed to the West coast," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "We haven’t been out there since the first year (when they traveled to UCLA). We’re looking at this meet as an opportunity to gain respect nationally. People will be looking at this meet to see how well we travel and compete. It could affect Regionals and our scheduling in the future." Arkansas heads West after a season-best 195.725 at LSU last Friday. The Gym’Backs were paced by a solid meet from junior Katie Hardman and freshman Emily Peacock. Hardman, a Buda, Texas, native, notched the team’s first 9.9 on the beam this year leading the Gym’Backs and winning the event title. She tallied a 9.850 on floor also a meet-best for Arkansas. Peacock stepped up for her first collegiate all-around competition against the Tigers posting a 39.050 for Arkansas. The San Antonio, Texas, native tied the school record with a 9.925 on bars and added a 9.750 on floor and a 9.8 on beam against one of the top teams in the nation this year. "We are excited to go to new places (like Washington)," said Hardman. "It’s our first quad meet and it moves a little faster. It’s easier to focus because you’re always moving and getting ready for the next thing." Despite being the higher-ranked team, the Gym’Backs enter the meet as the underdog against the Pac-10 powerhouses. With tradition and the home fans on their side, both the Huskies and Beavers will challenge the Gym’Backs. "Washington is a really strong program," said Cook. "They have a lot of experience at the national level. They are tough at home and we expect to be challenged. But that’s something we face every time we compete in the SEC as well." In addition to being a road meet and a tri-meet, Arkansas faces the challenge of starting the event on the beam for the first time this season. Traditional dual meets begin with the home team on the vault and the visiting team on the bars. The Gym’Backs are taking part in their first multi-team event of the year leading up to Arkansas’ own quad meet in March and six-team meets at the SEC Championships and NCAA Regional meets. "We start on the beam and that’s okay," said Hardman. "We can set the standard on the beam. It’s our strongest event and we feel like starting on the beam is a plus for us." The meet is scheduled to air on tape delay on FSN Northwest next week. Arkansas returns home hosting just their second meet of the year Friday, Feb. 18, when No. 6 Florida comes to Barnhill Arena. For more information and tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)