Gymnasts in town Friday

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The seventh-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team continues Southeastern Conference action hosting No. 2 Georgia in Barnhill Arena Friday at 7 p.m. The Razorbacks are enjoying a great year in the gym running their record to 6-2 on the year and a program=best 3-1 in the SEC. Georgia is a perennial powerhouse and winners of nine NCAA Championships, including four in a row making this a tough, but exciting, match-up for Arkansas. “We’re excited to host Georgia and we’re excited to be back in our own gym,” said co-head coach René Cook. “Georgia is a great team but we’ve had some magic in our own gym this year and we want to keep that going this Friday.” “Georgia will be a challenge,” added co-head coach Mark Cook, “but it’s fun too. We’re going to fight for every tenth (of a point) and give it our best and see what happens.” Arkansas’ season has been remarkable. The Razorbacks have faced some of the nation’s toughest opponents and battled weather and travel while still setting personal and team records. Junior Casey Jo Magee started the year strong winning a school record five consecutive all-around titles and setting a Razorback record with a 39.525. Freshman Jaime Pisani won her first all-around title and has twice been named SEC Freshman of the Week joining Magee as Arkansas has won three league honors this year. Arkansas upset top-ranked Florida, beating the Gators for the first time in program history. The Razorbacks traveled to Oklahoma downing the Sooners for the first time and set a school record with a 196.900 in a marathon week that saw Arkansas return to Barnhill and edge Alabama in league action. It was the first regular-season SEC win over the Crimson Tide as well. “Dual meets have a different atmosphere,” noted Mark Cook. “You’re more focused and we feel like we have a change to be in a zone and upset people. That was one of our goals coming into the season. We want to be in a zone and see what happens.” Arkansas’ last two meets have been a bit more of a challenge. The Razorbacks struggled but won at Kentucky, battling some balance beam demons on the road. The following week, Arkansas competed well but scored low at Auburn in the first back-to-back road action of the season. “I’m proud of what we did and the way we competed last week,” said René Cook. “We did a great job focusing on our performances and not worrying about what was going on around us. We had really good energy and I hope we can carry that over into the Georgia meet Friday.” The Georgia meet carries with it its own energy but this week’s meeting is made even more special as Gym Dogs’ head coach Suzanne Yoculan is making her final appearance in Barnhill as Georgia’s head coach. Yoculan is retiring at the end of the season. “Suzanne’s contributions to our sport are immeasurable,” said Mark Cook. “She has grown the sport in terms of fan support as well as athletic achievement. She’s raised the bar and forced others to match her level of accomplishment.” Tickets for Friday’s match are still available and can be obtained by calling the Razorback Ticket Office at 575-5151 or logging on to UA students are admitted free with a valid student ID.