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No. 24 Gym’Backs down Minnesota in opener

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 24 Gym’Backs down Minnesota in opener

Jump to meet agate MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The No. 24 University of Arkansas Gym’Backs traveled North to Minnesota and wasted no time in trying out its new talent with three freshmen in the lineup downing the Gophers 194.250 to 193.800 in the first meet of the year. “It was great,” said co-head coach Rene Cook. “We’re very proud of everyone tonight. We didn’t count a fall and we had very few errors. For a first meet and it being away, I couldn’t be more pleased.” The Gym’Backs had their hands full all meet long but a solid start was the key in the win. Junior Dana McQuillin finished second in the all-around for Arkansas with a 38.60 behind Minnesota’s Laura Johnson wit ha 38.950. Freshman Samantha Cortez was fourth in the all-around in her first collegiate meet. Freshman Emily Peacock notched her first win as a Gym’Back with a 9.850 on beam while sophomore Cassie Drew was the individual bars winner with a 9.80. “I was very proud of the team,” added co-head coach Mark Cook. “First meet of the year and we didn’t count a fall. It was on the road and we did well. We had some little errors but we showed maturity and energy.” After experiencing several falls during the Gala, the Gym’Backs stepped up their performances with all six athletes staying on the bars to open the meet. The Gym’Backs were paced by a 9.80 from Raleigh, N.C., native Drew followed by a 975 from Peacock and a 9.725 from all-Southeastern Conference gymnast junior Melissa Leigh. Arkansas finished with a 48.525 on bars to open while Minnesota tallied a 48.775 on vault with a pair of 9.80s from Angela Walker and Carolyn Yernberg. Arkansas’ consistency in the first rotation paid off in the second rotation as the Gym’Backs outscored the Gophers 48.525 to 47.875 on the bars taking a 96.925 to 96.650 lead after two events. Junior Audra Loveless recorded a team-best 9.775 on the vault helping Arkansas take the lead. Freshman Mallory Machnik added a 9.675 in her first collegiate meet while Cortez equaled that for the Gym’Backs. The Gym’Backs moved on to the floor exercise where they exploded in the first meet of the season. Solid tumbling passes and more difficult moves than in the previous seasons helped Arkansas to a 48.525 in the third rotation. Sophomore Rachel Barnett was up first on the floor and didn’t disappoint the enthusiastic Minnesota crowd scoring a 9.725 with a solid routine. Machnik followed but a miscue lowered her score to a 9.55. Peacock added a 9.625 before Cortez’ Spanish-influenced music again got the crowd into it for a team season-best 9.875. Junior Katie Hardman rounded out the floor with a 9.750 as the Gym’Backs led after three rotations, 145.450 to 144.550. The Gym’Backs’ energy level was evident as they moved to the final rotation – the beam. Arkansas was among the nation’s leaders on the beam last year and set a school record with a 49.375 last year. Looking to reach that mark, junior Hannah McLeod opened her beam pass with good execution and a round-off, double-full dismount that scored a 9.775. Peacock followed with a back handspring, back handspring layout combination that brought cheers of approval from the crowd and her teammates. A nearly perfect round off, double tuck dismount was rewarded with a 9.85. The performances kept getting better for Arkansas with Drew performing a back handspring gainer layout full to finish. The dismount was flawless earning the sophomore a 9.825 and keeping the Gym’Backs just ahead of the Gophers. But as Arkansas’ scores improved so too, did the Gophers who finished on the floor. Spurred on by a pair of 9.825s early along with 9.9 by Laura Johnson, Minnesota kept the scores close. An Arkansas fall in their next-to-last routine put pressure on Hardman to finish strong and the junior did just that with a 9.625 in the win. The Gym’Backs vault into Southeastern Conference action next week traveling to Kentucky for dual meet action Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m. Arkansas returns to Barnhill Arena Jan. 28, hosting NCAA runner-up Georgia at 7:00 p.m. 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)