comscore script

Regular season ends at Denver

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Regular season ends at Denver

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ 12th-ranked gymnastics team closes its regular season on Saturday at5 p.m. (central) at No. 18 Denver.

The Pioneers are the 10th top 30 opponent for the Razorbacks this season with seven of those ranking in the top 20.

Arkansas has won seven of its last eight and is coming off its top three performances of the season. The Razorbacks have scored a 196 or better in three straight meets after not reaching that figure through the first seven meets of the year.

"We’ve had consistent meets," co-head coach René Cook says. "We have a few things here and there we need to clean up, but the level of enthusiasm and execution has been high."

"The trick with gymnastics is you need really good technique, but you also need to make it look effortless," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "That’s part of the perception."

Arkansas (7-3) has already set school records with seven dual meet victories, four road wins and five Southeastern Conference wins. The Razorbacks dropped their SEC opener to No. 9 Alabama, but followed with wins at No. 27 Kentucky, at No. 22 Auburn, at home against No. 4 Georgia, at No. 19 LSU and at home against No. 1 Florida to earn a share of the SEC regular-season title at 5-1.

In the individual events, Arkansas is No. 13 on vault, No. 19 on bars, No. 13 on beam and No. 11 on floor.

Denver is No. 17 on vault, No. 18 on bars, No. 21 on beam and No. 20 on floor.

"This is an important meet," René Cook says. "Denver is hosting a (NCAA) regional, so we could go back there. This is a great opportunity to go on the road at a regional site, compete head-to-head against a similar team and to get a good road score."

"We’re still counting a low 195 (road) score," Mark Cook says. "If we score high, it might bump us up in the rankings."

Individually, Arkansas is led by junior All-American Jaime Pisani, who is a two-time SEC Gymnast of the Week this season. She has 25 individual event titles this year, including nine on floor and eight in the all-around. Pisani is ranked No. 3 in the nation on floor, No. 7 in the all-around and tied for No. 13 on vault.

Freshman Katherine Grable, who is second on the team with six individual event wins, is tied for No. 22 on floor, tied for No. 28 on beam and is No. 27 in the all-around.

Sophomore Jordan Salsberg, who has two individual wins, is tied for No. 34 in the all-around.

Senior All-American Michelle Stout also has two event wins, while juniors Mariah Howdeshell and Genny Salvatore have one each.

Denver leads the all-time series 3-0. The teams have not met since No. 17 Denver topped No. 15 Arkansas in Fayetteville in 2007, 192.975-192.800.

In last week’s home win over No. 27 West Virginia, Arkansas went with a lineup on vault of sophomore Kelci Lewis, Salsberg, freshman Scarlett Williams, Grable, Pisani and Stout. On bars, Salsberg was followed by Grable, Salvatore, Howdeshell, Pisani and Stout. Williams led off on beam and was followed by Pisani, Salsberg, Howdeshell, Grable and senior Stacy Bartlett. On floor, freshman Bailee Zumwalde was followed by Salsberg, sophomore Amy Borsellino, Lewis, Grable and Pisani.

The WVU meet was also the final home meet for Bartlett and Stout.

"It was Senior Night and Michelle and Stacy were great," René Cook says.

Stout won bars and was second on vault, and Bartlett finished second on beam.

"We had some really big vaults and did a good job on bars," Mark Cook says. "The other two events were solid was well"

Following the Denver meet, Arkansas heads to Birmingham, Ala., for the SEC Gymnastics Championship in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center on Saturday, March 19, at 4 p.m.

NCAA regionals are April 2 and the NCAA Championship is April 15-17 in Cleveland.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)