FAYETTEVILLE – Following two straight road meets, including a record-setting performance last week, Arkansas’ seventh-ranked gymnastics team is home this week to take on No. 40 Pittsburgh on Friday at 7 p.m. in Barnhill Arena.
The Razorbacks, who have been ranked in the top 10 all season, were No. 8 the two previous weeks before moving up to No. 7 this week.
Arkansas is coming off a win at No. 22 Minnesota in which the Razorbacks set a school record for the most points scored in a true road meet – 196.925, which is also the third-most overall in school history. Earlier this season, Arkansas set a record for points in a meet with 197.025 in the win over No. 16 Auburn, meaning the Razorbacks have produced two of the top three scores in program history this season.
"We’re not competing against just Pittsburgh this week," co-head coach Mark Cook says of his desire for another big score. "We’re competing against every other team in the country. We want to move up in the rankings and get one of the top six seeds in an NCAA Regional."
"We’re looking forward to having Pittsburgh in Barnhill Arena," co-head coach René Cook says. "If we go out and do our job this week and next week (at home against Oklahoma), we can be one of the top six seeds."
Senior All-American Casey Jo Magee, the Southeastern Conference co-Gymnast of the Week, is ranked No. 1 in the nation on beam for the second straight week. She is the first Razorback to earn a No. 1 national ranking. She is also No. 4 in the all-around while sophomore All-American Jaime Pisani is No. 11.
Magee set the school record for the all-around last week with a 39.650. She broke the previous mark of 39.625, which she set earlier this year against Auburn.
"She’s getting very mature to her approach," René Cook says. "She’s worked hard in the gym and outside the gym. She has a lot of confidence."
Pittsburgh is ranked No. 40 after going 11-9 last year, finishing fourth in the Big East and ending the season ranked No. 38. Ten letterwinners are back from that team for head coach Debbie Yohman, who is in her 24th season at Pitt.
Arkansas leads the all-time series 3-0. The Panthers visited Fayetteville in 2007. The other two victories came in NCAA Regional competition.
The Cooks altered their lineup last week, getting freshman Amy Borsellino on vault and freshman Natalie Bohonsky on bars. There may be more adjustments this week. Senior Amy DeFilippo, who has battled an injury, was back in the beam lineup after competing on just bars the two previous meets.
"We’re starting to solidify some positions," René Cook says. "Getting Natalie in the bars lineup was a key to our success last week. Amy was back on vault and she gave us a boost. We may look to get her on floor this week. As we get these spots solidified, it may take some of the pressure off the others."
Promotions for Friday’s meet include a t-shirt giveaway sponsored by Jason’s Deli and a PlayStation console and game package giveaway to a UA student. Friday is also Health Club Appreciation Night. Anyone with a gym membership card will be admitted for $1.