FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas is hosting the NCAA South Central Gymnastics Regional on April 7 at 4 p.m. in Barnhill Arena and the teams announced on Monday include recent national champion UCLA.
The Razorbacks, who have now earned a spot in an NCAA Regional nine straight years, which is every year the program has existed except for the first in 2003, are the No. 2 seed in Fayetteville.
UCLA, the 2010 national champion and the national runner-up last year, is the No. 1 seed.
Boise State, which competed against Arkansas last year when the Razorbacks won the North Central Regional in Denver, is the third seed. The rest of the field includes Missouri, which joins the SEC next year and claimed a victory over the Razorbacks in Columbia two weeks ago, New Hampshire and Maryland.
"We have to hit a good meet to advance," co-head coach René Cook says. "UCLA is a top team, we saw Boise State last year and just edged them out, and we just saw Missouri and they beat us so we have something to prove there."
The top two teams from each of the six regionals advance to the NCAA Championship in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22. Arkansas has advanced to the NCAA Championship five times in its nine years, including each of the last four years.
"I’m excited about UCLA coming here," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "I used to coach there (as an assistant from 1994-97) and I know their staff, and it will be great to compete against them. The other teams are all really good and it will be a great competition."
The rotation is already set for the meet and the Razorbacks will open on a bye before going to floor. Arkansas then moves to vault, followed by a bye and closes on bars and beam.
"I’m excited about that rotation because it was great for us the first time we hosted a regional," René says.
Arkansas hosted the South Central Regional for the first time in 2006 and finished second behind Florida with the same rotation to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.
Arkansas hosted again in 2009 and won its first regional title to again advance to the NCAA Championship.
"You have to go through the entire rotation, no matter where you start," Mark says. "We’re starting on a bye and going to floor. You just have to take them one event at a time."
The other five regionals are also set. The field at Auburn includes Georgia, Oregon State, Auburn, Michigan, West Virginia and Michigan State. Teams at Illinois are Oklahoma, Stanford, Denver, Illinois, Kentucky and Illinois-Chicago. North Carolina State is hosting Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, NC State, Kent State and North Carolina. The Utah Regional includes Nebraska, Utah, Minnesota, Iowa State, Arizona State and San Jose State. Teams in Seattle are Alabama, LSU, Arizona, Washington, Iowa and Central Michigan.
In addition to the six teams, the South Central Regional includes individual all-around qualifiers Kacy Catanzaro and Lindsay Poplaski of Towson, Kristin Milardo and Jess Prichard of William and Mary, and Stephanie Stoicovy of George Washington.
Individual qualifiers on the events are Elana Corcoran (vault), Kiera Kenney (bars) and Monique Blount (beam) of George Washington, and Avis Hixon (floor) of Towson.
The top 18 teams are seeded on a national basis and teams 19 through 36 are placed geographically at the six sites.
Tickets for the regional are $10 for adults. The first 500 UA students will be admitted free with a valid ID. For others, a $5 ticket is available for youth/students, everyone 18 and younger or with a valid UA student ID. A family plan is also available, including two adult and two youth tickets for $25.
Tickets can be purchased at the UA Ticket Center on Razorback Road, by calling 479-575-5151 or 800-982-4647, or online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
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