No. 11 Arkansas hosts Crimson Tide Friday

FAYETTVILLE — As the season nears the mid-point, the 11th-ranked University of Arkansas continues Southeastern Conference action hosting SEC runner-up Alabama in gymnastics action Friday in Barnhill Arena. Arkansas is out to its best season in its three short years of competition, improving with each meet. The Gym’Backs are ranked 11th in the nation and third in the South Central Region with four regular-season meets remaining. "We’re more that half-way into the season and, at this point, we are looking to continue our improvement and gaining more confidence with each performance," said co-head coach Rene Cook. The Gym’Backs are coming off a solid meet against fourth-ranked Florida last Friday paced by junior all-arounder Dana McQuillin who posted season highs on nearly every routine. Freshman Mallory Machnik was also key in Arkansas’ success Friday and throughout the season. The Monroe, La., native threw a pair of 9.90s first on vault and again on the floor. Her vault mark tied teammate Samantha Cortez and the duo tied the school record on that event. "I came to Arkansas because I wanted to be a part of building a program," said Machnik. "I feel like we’re so close (to the top programs) and it’s very exciting." Top-ranked LSU leads three teams atop the SEC standings with 4-1 records. The Tigers, along with Florida and Alabama all head into the weekend with just one conference loss followed by Georgia at 3-3 in the league. Arkansas is 2-3 in the SEC with Auburn at 1-4 and Kentucky at 0-5 to round out the league standings. "We’ve performed well throughout most of our routines," said co-head coach Mark Cook. "We want to eliminate the little mistakes. The tough competition has been a plus this year and since the beginning of the program. It’s a process and we’re getting a whole lot closer to the top teams in the nation." Arkansas will continue to challenge itself Friday against Alabama. The Crimson Tide are coming off a big win at Georgia and have the second-best score in the SEC this year with a 197.175. "We want to see the team go out and really attack the competition," said Rene Cook. "We want to keep working on our focus and maybe break a 196. That’s one of our goals for the season." The Arkansas meet will air live on-line as a pay-per-view event at LADYBACKS.COM. For ticket information call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.