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No. 14 Arkansas hosts quad meet Saturday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 14 Arkansas hosts quad meet Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE — The 14th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team welcomes three of the country’s top teams to Barnhill Arena Saturday for the biggest quad meet in the three-year history of the program. The Gym’Backs take on No. 3 Nebraska, No. 5 UCLA and No. 12 Oregon State in quad meet action beginning at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. Since adding gymnastics in 2003, the Gym’Backs have never shied away from competing against the best the sport has to offer. Perennial powerhouses Georgia and Alabama along with Florida, LSU, Auburn and Kentucky are on the calendar thanks to the Southeastern Conference schedule. But in addition to the always tough SEC slate, co-head coaches Mark and Rene Cook have put their young team up against the nation’s best outside of league play. "We’ve faced some great competition already this season," said Mark Cook, "but this is the premier meet of the season for us prior to SECs. There is a huge range of talent at this meet and it’s a chance for us to see how we stack up against some of the top teams in the country." The Gym’Backs have a tough battle in front of them facing both national champions and Olympians this weekend. 2000 U.S. Olympic teammates Kristen Maloney and Tasha Schwikert of UCLA rank first and second in the nation as all-arounders this week while all-American and two-time all-American Kate Richardson returns to the lineup after missing a meet with an injury. "We know that all of these teams are good," said gymnast Melissa Leigh. "But we’re excited to face this type of competition and see where we stand." "The thing about our conference is that it is really strong," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "That prepares us for this type of meet. We know what to expect and the high level of competition doesn’t intimate us." Arkansas faced UCLA once before in 2003 and is meeting Nebraska, a South Central Region opponent, for the first time in program history. The Gym’Backs faced Oregon State once this season at the Washington tri-meet and know what to expect from the Beavers. In addition, Mark Cook may feel a bit familiar with UCLA as well. Cook was an assistant coach for the Bruins when UCLA won its first national championship in 1997. "I have a deep admiration for the program," Mark Cook said, "but I really want to compete well against them and see what happens." The quad meet is the final home event for the Gym’Backs as the team prepares for the SEC Championship in Duluth, Ga., March 25. The meet will air live as a pay-per-view event on LADYBACKS.COM. For more information and tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)