FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After opening its season with a home win over a top 20 team, Arkansas’ gymnastics team goes on the road to face a top 10 team this week.
The Razorbacks, ranked No. 8 in the nation in the preseason but now No. 7 following Saturday’s victory over No. 20 Arizona, travel to No. 8 Florida for a 6 p.m. matchup on Friday.
Last year, Arkansas upset then-No. 1 ranked Florida in Fayetteville.
While Arkansas (1-0) was posting the 195.400-192.650 victory over the No. 20 Wildcats last weekend, Florida, ranked No. 4 in the preseason, dropped a 196.250-195.275 decision at No. 2 Oklahoma.
“It’s an opportunity to compete in an SEC meet,” co-head coach Mark Cook said. “The team is confident and ready for the challenge. We’ve knocked off strong teams at home in Barnhill Arena. Next, we have to do that on the road. If and when we do that, it sends a message.”
Arkansas heads to Gainesville ranked No. 7 as a team, No. 20 on vault, No. 2 on bars, No. 7 on beam and tied for No. 5 on floor.
In the South Central Region, Arkansas is No. 3 as a team, No. 5 on vault, No. 1 on bars, No. 3 on beam and No. 2 on floor.
Arkansas topped Arizona on bars, beam and floor. The 49.200 team total on bars ranks as the fifth-best mark in school history. Senior Amy DeFilippo won the event with a career-best 9.90, followed by sophomore Jaime Pisani and senior Casey Jo Magee at 9.85, sophomore Mariah Howdeshell at 9.825 and senior Sarah Nagashima at 9.775.
Pisani won the all-around title, tying for first on floor, tying for second on bars and tying for fourth on beam. Her 9.85 on bars matches her career high, and she now has three all-around titles in her two years and 15 overall individual titles.
Other event winners for the Razorbacks included Magee tying for first on floor and Nagashima tying for first on beam.
“It was disappointing the way we started,” co-head coach René Cook said of the Arizona meet. “We’re thrilled with how we finished. Our No. 1 goal was to not count a fall, and we didn’t have to do that.”
Florida returns 11 letterwinners and five All-Americans from last year’s squad, which finished fourth in the nation, just one spot ahead of the Razorbacks in the NCAA Super Six.
The Gators have dominated the series, but in last year’s regular-season meet, No. 8 Arkansas upset No. 1 Florida in Fayetteville, 196.375-195.425. The Gators later topped Arkansas in the SEC Championship and in the NCAA Super Six.
In Arkansas’ last visit to Gainesville, the No. 3 Gators posted a 196.700-195.750 win over the No. 11 Razorbacks on Feb. 1, 2008.
“Florida is probably a little disappointed in their last competition,” Mark Cook said. “We just need to keep focusing on details and be consistent.”
A tape delay broadcast of the meet airs on Cox Sports on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. Cox Sports is available to Cox Cable subscribers.