No. 12 Arkansas opens season with No. 11 Georgia
Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The ninth-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team travels to Lexington, Ky., taking on No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats in the team's second Southeastern Conference match-up of the young season. The meet is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
"We started off fairly solid in our first meet," co-head coach René Lyst said. "We had to count a few mistakes last week, but it was a good score to start the season. Right now the rankings are based on season average for these first few weeks, so we just need to make sure that way stay consistent and not count mistakes and get a good score on the road. Getting a good start on the road is real important for us."
Last week against No. 11 Georgia Arkansas scored a 195.775 giving the Razorbacks the ninth-best score in the nation. The Razorbacks are also ranked in the event rankings checking in at No. 8 on the beam with a 48.950. Arkansas is ranked ninth on vault with a score of49.100, 12th on floor with a 49.000, and 22nd on bars with 48.725.
Individually, Katherine Grable is fifth in the nation in the all-around (39.450), tied for 19th on the vault (9.875), tied for 12th on the beam (9.875) and tied for fifth on the floor (9.925). Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Freshman Sydnie Dillard is tied for 12th on the beam with a 9.875.
Dillard, a Fairview, Texas, native, tied for second on the beam with a 9.875 which she shared with Grable for the team high score. Dillard had a 9.85 on floor which earned her a third-place finish for the meet and second place on the team.
The Razorbacks had several newcomers step in and fill roles last week and will again look to their youth for depth and consistent scores this week. In addition to Dillard, freshman Heather Elswick competed three events, posting a 9.825 on vault for Arkansas.
Erin Freier and Keara Glover were two-event competitors in their first collegiate meet. Freier competed on vault and beam counting a 9.724 on the vault in the opening rotation. Glover competed on bards and beam scoring the third-best team score with a 9.80 on beam.
Arkansas owns the all-time series 18-1-1, but the Razorbacks are looking to bounce back in this meeting after Kentucky ended a 17-meet winning streak by Arkansas. The Razorbacks fell to Kentucky in the SEC Championship meet 194.350-194.175.
Kentucky moved up into the No. 14 spot in this week's rankings, their best since the 2010 season. The Wildcats picked up their first SEC dual meet road win since 1999 at Auburn last week. The victory was also the first in an SEC opener for Kentucky since 2008.
"Kentucky is improving and their coaching staff is very strong," Lyst said. "They have recruited well and have a good system in place; they will be a challenge for us for sure. They did beat us at the SEC Championship last year, so they are going to be looking forward for us to come into their home gym. We really need to go there and perform like we are capable of, and not count any mistakes and do a good job and hopefully get the win. "
Following the meet at Kentucky, Arkansas returns home for two weeks hosting Denver on Jan. 25 and Florida on Feb. 1.
(Source: University of Arkansas Athletic Media Relations)