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Top 20 battle at LSU

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Top 20 battle at LSU

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ gymnastics team looks for its fourth consecutive victory and an improved score for the fourth straight week when the Razorbacks face LSU in Baton Rouge on Friday at 7 p.m.

Arkansas is ranked No. 11 in this week’s GymInfo national rankings while the Tigers are No. 19.

The meet is being covered by Comcast Sports Southeast. CSS is not available in Northwest Arkansas, but it is available to subscribers in Central Arkansas on Channel 23. A tape-delay broadcast of the LSU meet airs on Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.

LSU is the fifth top 25 opponent of the season for Arkansas, which has won three straight to improve to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.

In the events, Arkansas is No. 11 on vault, No. 19 on bars, tied for No. 18 on beam and No. 6 on floor. LSU is No. 12 on vault, No. 27 on bars, tied for No. 18 on beam and tied for No. 23 on floor.

Arkansas’ three-meet winning streak includes wins at then-No. 27 Kentucky and then-No. 22 Auburn, and last week’s home win over No. 4 Georgia, 195.775-195.40.

"We’ve made some progress and we’re getting better, but you always want more," co-head coach Mark Cook says.

In the Georgia win, which was Arkansas’ first-ever over the Gym Dogs, junior All-American Jaime Pisani won the all-around for a fourth consecutive meet. She has 10 individual event titles this year, and is tied for 13th nationally in the all-around and is No. 6 on floor.

"The team was definitely focused," Cook says. "We had lost to them too many times. The girls really stepped up their performances."

Pisani was named the Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Week following the victory over Georgia.

"She was dialed in," Cook says. "She’s really deserving of the award."

LSU leads the all-time series 19-1-1, but Arkansas’ win and tie have come in two of the last three meetings. LSU beat Arkansas at last year’s SEC Championship, but the Razorbacks topped the Tigers in the 2009 NCAA Super Six and rallied for a tie in last year’s regular-season meet in Fayetteville.

In last year’s regular-season meet, the Razorbacks trailed heading into the final rotation, but Kelci Lewis finished fourth on floor with a 9.85, Pisani won floor with a 9.925 and Casey Jo Magee finished second with a 9.875 to rally the team for the tie.

Last week’s lineup included sophomore Amanda Siebert, sophomore Jordan Salsberg, freshman Scarlett Williams, Pisani, freshman Katherine Grable and Lewis on vault. On bars, Salsberg was followed by Grable, Pisani, senior All-American Michelle Stout, freshman Shelby Salmon and junior Mariah Howdeshell. Williams led off on beam, followed by Pisani, Salsberg, Salmon, Grable and senior Stacy Bartlett. On floor, Siebert was followed by freshman Bailee Zumwalde, Salsberg, Lewis, Grable and Pisani.

Following the LSU meet, Arkansas is home on Feb. 18 to face Brigham Young in Barnhill Arena at 7 p.m.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)