Arkansas wins big on senior night

Jump to agate FAYETTEVILLE – The 20th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team celebrated the program’s first senior night with a win over No. 36 Washington Sunday afternoon in Barnhill Arena. Arkansas said a tearful thank you to nine seniors, five of whom still compete on the team while downing Washington 196.350-193.025. Arkansas tied the season’s best score and recorded the fifth best mark in school history behind seven season bests and a lot of emotion. “It was a great afternoon,” said co-head coach Rene Cook. “The scores were impressive and will help us stay in the top 20, maybe even move up. The energy in the gym was great.” Seniors Melissa Leigh, Audra Loveless, Katie Hardman, Hannah McLeod and Dana McQuillin competed in their final regular season home meet and were honored along with retired gymnasts Whitney Cashwell, Valerie Conroy, Brooke Lawrence and Kim Harris who helped start the program in 2003. Arkansas opened the meet with a 49.00 on vault tying the teams’ second-best mark of the year on the event. Freshman Breanne Guy paced the Gym’Backs with a career-best 9.85 on the event. Sophomore Samantha Cortez also posted a 9.85 while junior Cassie Drew added a 9.80 for the Gym’Backs. Washington struggled on their opening event, the bars, with a fall and near fall limiting the Huskies to a 48.30 after one rotation. Arkansas matched the vault success again tying the season’s second-best mark on the bars with a 49.125 as nearly ever stuck their landings for the Gym’Backs. Drew posted a season-high 9.85 while Leigh tied hers with a team-leading 9.90. Sophomore Emily Peacock added a 9.875 while Cortez tied her season high with a 9.775. McQuillin added a 9.725 for the Gym’Backs in a solid rotation. Arkansas led Washington 98.125-97.300 after two rotations. The Gym’Backs were consistent throughout the meet, again tying their second-best mark this time on the beam with a 48.825. Hardman paced the team with a 9.90 tying her season-best. Sophomore Mallory Machnik tied her season-high with a 9.80 and junior Rachel Barnett tied hers as well with a 9.775. Arkansas peaked at the end of the meet with a season-best 49.400 and six scores better than 9.80 on the floor. The Gym’Backs got a season bests from all six highlighted by a 9.926 from Peacock. Hardman added a 9.90 while Machnick and Barnett each had a 9.875 in the win. Arkansas travels to Nebraska Saturday for the final regular season meet followed by the Southeastern Conference Championship in Birmingham, Ala., March 25. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics log on to LADYBACKS.COM.