JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Arkansas gymnastics team will compete against three of the nation’s best teams in the first session of the Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Jacksonville, Florida. This session will be broadcast on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
Arkansas (4-7, 2-5 SEC) enters the championship as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 12 Kentucky, No. 14 Missouri and No. 21 Auburn, which are seeded five through seven for the championship.
The Razorbacks won individual titles in all five events, including the all-around, and finished with a team score of 196.150, defeating both San Jose State (193.875) and Centenary (188.225) in a tri-meet to close out the regular season on Senior Night this past Saturday.
The 196.150 was the second-highest home score this season and the third score of 196 or higher this season. Arkansas scored a season-best 196.375 in a win at No. 17 Auburn and also scored a 196.275 against No. 2 LSU earlier this season.
Arkansas will start on floor exercise in the first rotation, and will continue on to vault, uneven bars and will finish the meet on balance beam. The Razorbacks have finished as high as fourth with a 195.800 at the 2011 SEC Championship and scored a program-best 196.500 to place sixth at last year’s championship.
New this year, the SEC Network will produce team-specific streams that will follow Arkansas and the other seven teams through their rotations and will be available on WatchESPN. These streams will also include a list of real-time scores for each athlete competing on that specific apparatus, as well as score updates from the teams competing simultaneously on the other events.
• Arkansas posted its best score in an SEC Championship with a 196.500 to place second in the first session and sixth overall at last year’s championship in Little Rock.
• Arkansas has finished as high as fourth, scoring a 195.800 at the 2011 SEC Championship in Birmingham, Alabama, and also finished fifth twice, most recently with a 194.550 at the 2007 SEC Championship in Little Rock.
• Arkansas scored a 195.275 for a sixth-place finish out of seven teams at the 2010 SEC Championship, the only previous championship held in Jacksonville.
• Three gymnasts, Paige Zaziski (uneven bars), Amanda Wellick (floor exercise) and Samantha Nelson (floor exercise, balance beam), earned All-SEC honors at last year’s championship in Little Rock.
• The 196.150 in the tri-meet against San Jose State and Centenary helped Arkansas move up three spots to No. 26 in the nation with a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 196.775.
• Hailey Garner won her second uneven bars title and third individual title overall with a career-best 9.925, the highest score by an Arkansas gymnast in any event this season
• Sydney McGlone, after missing the two previous meets due to injury, tied for first on floor exercise with a 9.900, setting a season best and matching her career best in the event.
• Jessica Yamzon has won three all-around titles and ranks 11th in the SEC in the all-around (39.135), tied for 22nd on balance beam (9.845) and tied for 30th on floor exercise (9.820).
• Hailey Garner is tied for 21st in the SEC on uneven bars (9.850), highlighted by her career-best 9.925 in the tri-meet against Centenary and San Jose State.
Quotable – Head Coach Mark Cook
“We want to see how high we can place in the first session. It’s a strong field in both sessions. If we can finish first or second in the first session, that’s definitely the goal.”
“Last weekend moved us up in the rankings to No. 26. If we can score well here, we can maybe move back into the top 25. We need to post a score in high 195’s or low 196’s, and if we can do that, we will move up another two or three spots heading into regionals.”
Arkansas will also host an NCAA Regional on April 1 at 4 p.m. in Barnhill Arena. Each regional will consist of six teams, four individual all-around competitors, and two individual specialists per event.