FAYETTEVILLE – The ninth-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team returns to Southeastern Conference action at No. 3 Florida Friday in Gainesville, Fla.
The Gym’Backs might be only three meets into the 2008 season, but find themselves near mid-year form. Seniors Emily Peacock and Samantha Cortez along with junior Alex LaChance and sophomore Casey Jo Magee have been among the early season leaders.
A 2007 NCAA Championship participant, Magee won her first all-around title of the year in a win against No. 12 Penn State last week. The meet also saw Peacock finish second on beam and tie for the floor win.
But this week, the Gym’Backs return to SEC action facing one of the nation’s best in the Gators. A former No. 1-ranked team, Florida stumbled last week to third in the rankings, but the Gators return home for a televised meet with Arkansas in a very tough road environment.
“We’re excited to return to the road,” said Arkansas co-head coach Mark Cook, “and to test our team against Florida. They are a really a strong program. It’s time to go on the road again. This is a good cycle for us.”
Arkansas has had a pair of home meets and now travels for back-to-back weekends. The Gym’Backs most recent contest against the Nittany Lions was a win but Arkansas had to battle through the final routine.
“We had a couple of uncharacteristic falls (against Penn State) but you learn from that,” said Cook. “We’ve had a great week of practice and we’re looking forward to the meet.”
Friday’s meet is televised by Sun Sports and airs Feb. 10 at 9:30 a.m. central. Larry Vettel and Melissa Miller-Schubeck provide the play-by-play and color analysis.
The Gym’Backs continue to face one of the toughest schedules in the country following up the Florida meet with a trip to No. 4 Alabama next week. Arkansas then returns home hosting No. 28 Kentucky and No. 16 Auburn Feb. 15 and 22nd, respectively.
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