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No. 8 Razorbacks host top-ranked Gators Friday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 8 Razorbacks host top-ranked Gators Friday

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The eighth-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team welcomes No. 1 Florida to open Southeastern Conference action in Barnhill Arena Friday at 7 p.m. The Razorbacks (2-1, 0-0 SEC) have had a pair of solid season-opening meets but the Gators (2-0, 1-0 SEC) represent the start of more than just the conference season. The Friday meet with Florida is the first of three meets in eight days for Arkansas and will be televised by CST. In addition, the match-up with the Gators is Arkansas’ “Razorbacks Have Heart” meet co-sponsored by the American Heart Association. The event hopes to raise awareness about the Heart Association and several product give-aways are scheduled. The Razorbacks will get their blood moving Saturday and board a bus for Norman, Okla., Monday facing No. 5 Oklahoma (1-1) in a non-conference tilt. Arkansas returns home hosting ninth-ranked Alabama Friday, Jan. 30, in a meet that will be televised by ESPN. “It’s a big week,” said Arkansas co-head coach René Cook. “This is the first time we’ve had back-to-back meets. Obviously, at the national championship competition is on back-to-back days and this is a good opportunity to have a big meet at home and turn around and go to a big road meet. It’s a great test for us. “Both Florida and Oklahoma are very strong programs and they’ll challenge us in the gym. The schedule is also a challenge as we cycle through this eight-day program.” Arkansas is coming off a pair of good meets to open the season. The Razorbacks downed Ohio State at home posting the program’s highest first-meet score. Arkansas then rallied late at No. 9 Oregon State on the road getting another good team total while junior All-American Casey Jo Magee won her second all-around title of the year. Magee scored a season-best 39.425 in the win and junior All-American Michelle Stout posted a 9.90 on the vault tying for the individual win. “Casey Jo has been a rock this year,” said co-head coach Mark Cook. “Her game plan is to go in and compete hard in every meet this year and she’s done a great job.” Junior Sarah Nagashima and freshman Jaime Pisani have also competed for the all-around title in Arkansas’ first two meets. Nagashima has scored back-to-back career-high 39.050s while Pisani improved as the foursome anchors the team. The Gators are coming off a come-from-behind win over No. 4 Auburn (1-2, 0-2 SEC) last week. Florida trailed going into the final rotation for the second consecutive season but rallied on the floor for the win. Florida’s floor set total of 49.45 – the nation’s highest of this young season – moved the Gators past the Tigers for a 196.50-196.25 win. Four Gators finished among the meet’s top three floor performers, including the event winner Corey Hartung. She matched her collegiate best of 9.95 for the sixth time of her career to win her second consecutive floor title. Arkansas has never defeated the Gators as Florida holds an 18-0 series advantage. Arkansas has faced Florida more than any other SEC team as they are often paired in a regional. Then-ninth-ranked Oklahoma (1-1) posted the highest score in the NCAA this season en route to a 197.175-189.600 victory against Texas Woman’s University (0-1) in their most recent action. The Sooners claimed every team and individual event title of the dual meet while posting their best team score since 2004. The Sooners now claim the highest score in the NCAA in 2009. With the win, Oklahoma has won 32 of its last 34 regular-season match-ups dating back to Jan. 19, 2007. Oklahoma un-seated the Razorbacks in the top spot in the South Central Regional this week as well. This week, Arkansas and Oklahoma square off in a good regional battle. Stout ranks first in the region on vault and Magee is first on bars followed by Nagashima who is sixth. Oklahoma has gymnasts who are tied for second, fourth and sixth on the beam and the Razorbacks’ top beam performer is Magee who is 10th. OU’s Ashley Jackson ranks first on the floor exercise but Magee is second. Arkansas is 0-4 against the Sooners. The Razorbacks first faced Oklahoma at the 2005 NCAA Regional Championship in Durham, N.H. and the teams met again in 2006 at the NCAA Championships in Corvallis, Ore. The only regular-season meeting came last year in Fayetteville when No. 9 Oklahoma downed No. 11 Arkansas, 196.750-196.624 as the Razorbacks tied the school record for team score. They met again at the NCAA Championship in Athens, Ga. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)