Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The No. 16 University of Arkansas gymnastics team (6-7-1, 1-5-1 SEC) travels to Little Rock, Ark., to compete in Session I of the 2013 SEC Gymnastics Championships as the sixth-seeded team Saturday at Verizon Arena. The other teams in Arkansas' session will be the five-seed Auburn Tigers (6-7, 3-4 SEC), seven-seed Kentucky Wildcats (7-5-1, 3-3-1 SEC) and the eight-seed Missouri Tigers (3-11, 0-7 SEC). Session I of the meet is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. central.
"We competed really well at UCLA despite having many obstacles and delays to overcome," co-head coach René Lyst said. "We had to warm-up in a different way than we normally do to wait on the equipment failure to be fixed on the bars and delayed the start of the meet. There were many little things that we had to deal with which I think will prepare us for the future. To have the gymnasts come out and compete really hard, stay with UCLA the entire way really got us prepared for the post-season."
The Razorbacks will start on the bars rotation and then continue through Olympic order of beam, floor and then finish on the vault. Auburn will start on the vault and finish on the floor, Kentucky will start on the beam and finish on bars while Missouri will start on the floor and finish on the beam.
In Session I, Auburn is the highest ranked team at No. 12 in the nation. Arkansas is ranked at No. 16, followed by Kentucky at No. 19 while Missouri is not currently featured in the rankings.
In the event rankings, Arkansas is tied at No. 11 on the floor, No. 13 on the bars, No. 15 on the vault and No. 23 on the beam. The Razorbacks have the highest ranked rotations in Session I on three of the four events.
Individually, junior Katherine Grable is ranked No. 13 in the all-around competition and the highest ranked gymnast in the session. Grable is also No. 17 on the vault, No. 21 on the floor and junior Shelby Salmon stayed in the rankings on the bars tied for No. 21 on the event and the highest ranked bars worker for the session.
Arkansas comes into the SEC Championships having recorded its highest road score of the season at UCLA with a 196.600.
The Razorbacks look to break their team score record for the meet of 195.800 from 2011. Arkansas also will try to beat its highest finish in the meet of fourth-place, which the team has done in back-to-back seasons.
"We are really excited that SEC's are in Little Rock," Lyst said. "It is a great opportunity for us to compete in another part of the state and get our team introduced to the great fans that we have down in Little Rock. It is also a way for Arkansas fans and gymnastics fans to come out and see a great competition from top to bottom. We compete with Auburn, Kentucky and Missouri. We really want to win our session, we want to go out there and post the highest score possible, not just for our RQS rankings but for the championship rankings as well."
Fans can follow along during the meet with live results and interactive blog. Following the meet Saturday, the Razorbacks will await to see their NCAA Regional selection on Monday, March 25. The six possible NCAA Regional sites are Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State or Oregon State. The NCAA Regionals will be held on Saturday, April, 6. The start times of the meets are TBA.