FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Friday afternoon the Arkansas women’s gymnastics team held its first organized practice of the year as they begin preparation for a challenging 2015 season.
Head Coach Mark Cook was extremely satisfied with the first day of work outs with his club, as they prepare for 2015 campaign that features one of the most demanding schedules in the nation. Not only will the Razorbacks faceoff against five of last season’s NCAA Super Six teams, they will also take on both co-national champions, Oklahoma and Florida.
“For the first day we are pretty pleased,” said the head coach. “We started off on the vault and we may have one of the deepest and most talented vault rotations we’ve ever had here this season. It’s really improved from last year and it’s an area where we look to be really strong in.”
Cook was also content with his team’s effort in the bars and the floor on the first day of practice.
“We had some really big releases on the bars and our freshman did a great job there. We have some new floor routines and got some really good tumbling out of today. Right now it’s about building endurance. With it being the first day, we did some modified routines, but as the months progress we will add some more difficultly to those.”
The Razorbacks return a heap of talent from last year’s squad that includes NCAA All-American Stephani Canizaro, as well as 2014 NCAA Championships participant, Amanda Wellick.
Canizaro, who is a 2012 Second-Team All-American on the floor, is one of two seniors on this year’s team, joining Cailee Ellsworth, who is in her second season with the program after transferring from Texas Woman’s College.
Wellick burst onto the scene in her first year with the Razorbacks, as she was named the 2014 SEC Freshman of the Year and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships as an individual, where posted the second-highest score of any NCAA freshman in the all-around.
The 2015 version of the Arkansas gymnastics team also features a pair of 2014 All-SEC honorees in junior Sydnie Dillard and sophomore Samantha Nelson.
Juniors Heather Elswick, Erin Freier and Keara Glover join sophomore Paris Ryder to round out the list of returnees for Arkansas. Coach Cook will welcome five new freshman, Mia Bargiacchi, Leah MacMoyle, Braie Speed, Kathleen York and Paige Zaziski, to his program.
The Razorbacks open the 2015 season on the road at NCAA co-defending champion, Oklahoma on Jan. 9. The meet will kick-off a 13-event schedule for Arkansas, which features home meets against SEC powerhouse Alabama, NCAA co-defending champion Florida, a tri-meet against Illinois State and Southeast Missouri, conference foe Missouri and Pac-12 power UCLA.
For more information on Razorback gymnastics, follow @RazorbackGym on Twitter.