FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas gymnastics team will make its first appearance inside Barnhill Arena this Friday for a Southeastern Conference matchup against the sixth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats at 7 p.m.
The Razorbacks vaulted up eight spots in this week’s national rankings to No. 11 after posting a 195.350 at No. 3 LSU last Friday, assisted by the second-best beam score in the nation of 49.150. All six in Arkansas’ beam lineup rank in the top-100 national individual beam rankings.
“We had a few little errors down there, but some really nice sets, too,” said head coach Mark Cook. “Coming away with a 195.350 set us up for the first week of the season being ranked No. 11 in the country. Preseason had us 19th, now we’re 11th. We’ve got to stay there and move up.”
Senior Amanda Wellick looked strong in her first competition since last January, recording three scores over 9.825 or higher on three events. Wellick will make her first appearance in Barnhill Friday since March 11, 2016 after suffering an injury prior to the Razorbacks first home meet last season.
“It felt great being back,” said Wellick. “It was a pretty strong start for me, I can make improvements, little improvements, to improve the team score.”
A trio of Razorbacks made their first appearance in lineups last Friday in freshmen Sydney Laird, Sophia Carter and Sarah Shaffer. Laird recorded scores of 9.825 on beam and 9.800 on bars, becoming one of two freshman in the SEC to score over 9.800 on each event competed. Carter posted the Razorbacks’ highest score of 9.900 on beam and is tied for fourth nationally in the event.
Friday’s meet against Kentucky marks the third straight year the Razorbacks home opener will feature a top-15 opponent. Arkansas is 23-7 all-time against Kentucky, winning three of the last five against the Wildcats.
“They are a good program,” said Cook. “Tim (Garrison) has all of his kids back from last year and he’s a good friend of mine as well. He runs a solid program. They’re going to be tough. We’re going to be tough too, it’s our house.”
Tickets for the meet are available for purchase online, or at the north or south entrances of Barnhill Arena beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Season tickets for all five home meets are available for $25 and can be purchased here, or by calling 1-479-575-5151. Arkansas’ clear bag policy will be in effect for all five home meets inside Barnhill Arena.
The Razorbacks’ home debut will feature a Candyland theme. The first 250 kids will receive candy bars with the chance of winning a special giveaway from 25 golden tickets. There will be a photo booth along with other candy themed giveaways throughout the meet. There will also be an autograph session following the conclusion of the meet Friday.
For more information on Arkansas Gymnastics, including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackGym on Twitter.