FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ gymnastics team is on the road for a top 25 matchup this week as the No. 12 Razorbacks visit No. 22 Auburn.
The meet is Friday at 7 p.m. in Auburn, Ala.
Arkansas is coming off a 194.975-193.525 victory at then-No. 27 Kentucky, which helped the Razorbacks move up to No. 12 in this week’s GymInfo national rankings.
"We competed exceptionally hard on floor and beam (last week at Kentucky)," co-head coach René Cook says. "We saw some aggressive routines and really good performances. We still have to put it all together, but we’re getting closer."
In the individual events, Arkansas is No. 11 on vault, No. 23 on bars, No. 18 on beam and No. 6 on floor.
Auburn is No. 29 on vault, No. 21 on bars, No. 8 on beam and No. 39 on floor.
"It will be a battle," René Cook says. "Auburn is a very good program. We need to focus on the things we’re trying to improve upon. If we can do that, we’ll feel good about it. We need to be aggressive. We’ve seen more growth in practice this week than we have the whole season. Our intensity and focus have been what we’ve hoped for. We want to go to Auburn and see that hard work pay off."
"We still haven’t counted a fall so far this season," co-head coach Mark Cook says. "Just to compete safe isn’t good enough, either. You don’t want to be reckless, but you have to be aggressive. This team is definitely developing. We’re a work in progress."
Individually, Arkansas is led by junior All-American Jaime Pisani. She is No. 3 in the nation on floor, No. 12 in the all-around and No. 32 on vault.
"That’s a great accomplishment for her and the program," René Cook says of Pisani’s No. 3 floor ranking. "But I know she’s going to keep striving to get better, which will be good for all of us."
Pisani won or shared the all-around title in each of the last two meets and has won floor in all three.
"Jaime has done a good job," Mark Cook says. "She’s aggressive and has a lot more confidence. She’s a major all-arounder."
Freshman Katherine Grable won or shared all-around titles in each of the first two meets, and she is tied for No. 29 in both the all-around and on floor.
Sophomore Jordan Salsberg, a transfer from Southeast Missouri, claimed her first individual title as a Razorback last week, winning beam at UK with a 9.775. As a freshman at SEMO, she won 13 event titles.
The Auburn series is tied 8-8, but the Tigers have won three of the last four.
Arkansas’ last win was in the regular-season last year when the No. 7 Razorbacks set a school record for overall score with a 197.025-196.425 victory over the No. 16 Tigers.
Arkansas’ lineup last week included sophomore Amanda Siebert, Salsberg, Grable, freshman Scarlett Williams, Pisani and sophomore Kelci Lewis on vault. On bars, senior All-American Michelle Stout led off, followed by Salsberg, Grable, Pisani, junior Mariah Howdeshell and freshman Shelby Salmon. Williams was first on beam, followed by Pisani, Salsberg, Salmon, Grable and senior Stacy Bartlett. Siebert went first on floor, followed by freshman Bailee Zumwalde, Salsberg, Lewis, Grable and Pisani.
"As a team, we made some changes last week," Mark Cook says. "You have to adapt. If you sit and wait for something to happen, usually nothing happens. We’ve made some changes and we’re anxious to go to Auburn and see if our changes work."
Following the Auburn meet, Arkansas is home on Feb. 4 to face Georgia in Barnhill Arena at 7 p.m.