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No. 13 Gym’Backs travel to No. 12 Denver

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 13 Gym’Backs travel to No. 12 Denver

FAYETTEVILLE — The 13th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team strays from Southeastern Conference action traveling to No. 12 Denver for dual meet action Saturday. Arkansas, 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the SEC, faces the Pioneers, 9-6 overall, in the final dual road meet of the 2005 season. The Gym’Backs are coming off a disappointing scoring performance against Alabama last Friday and are looking for higher scores to boost the team nationally. "We feel like if we can go in (to Denver) and do our job, we can make a statement nationally," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "If we do our job and control the things we have control over, we will do well. This is a big meet and we’d like to drop our previous low road score to help our RQS." Arkansas, ranked 13th this week, posted a 194.250 at Minnesota in the first meet of the year. A better score at Denver could move the Gym’Backs up in the national poll. The Gym’Backs have hit the mid-point in the season with three regular season meets and the SEC Championships remaining on the schedule. Arkansas hosts No. 35 Missouri March 13, followed by a quad meet with No. 1 Nebraska, No. 4 UCLA and No. 11 Oregon State March 19. "It’s been nice to be home for a couple of weeks," said co-head coach Mark Cook. "But Denver is a good trip for us at this point in the season. We have the opportunity to improve our standing. They have a great program and we’re evenly ranked so it should be an exciting meet. We stewed a bit (after the Alabama meet) but we had to let go of it. We’re ready to move on." Arkansas tallied a 193.750 against the Crimson Tide – the lowest score since the first season of gymnastics and the third-lowest score in school history despite not counting a fall. The Gym’Backs were solid on bars jumping from 48.325 the previous week to 48.825 Friday. Denver is coming off a third-place finish at the Master’s Classic at Nebraska in which the top-ranked Huskers won followed by SEC foe Kentucky. Denver was third and Auburn finished fourth at the event. DU freshman Courtney Butler won her third consecutive bars title for the Pioneers. Arkansas’ freshmen have also performed well in their first season of collegiate competition. All-arounder Samantha Cortez, Mallory Machnik and Emily Peacock have all assumed big roles for the third-year Gym’Backs. Cortez has been one of two all-arounders joining junior Dana McQuillin on all four events in most of the team’s meets this year. Machnik tied the school record with a 9.90 on bars earlier this season and Peacock has been solid on bars, beam and floor for the Gym’Backs. Junior Katie Hardman has also been consistent for Arkansas through the first half of the season. The Buda, Texas, native is averaging better than 9.8 on beam this year and is nearly that high on the floor. Arkansas returns home hosting No. 35 Missouri at 2:00 p.m. March 13. 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)