No. 15 Gym'Backs host No. 5 Alabama Friday

FAYETTEVILLE — The 15th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team continues Southeastern Conference action Friday hosting No. 5 Alabama in Barnhill Arena at 7:00 p.m. The Gym’Backs are in the midst of a solid season hanging on to the No. 15 spot in the poll despite an inexperienced team who is learning as each meet passes. The senior leadership of Rachel Barnett and Cassie Drew is guiding five freshman who are accounting for the majoring of the performances each meet. Emerging quietly as the team’s leader is freshman Michelle Stout. The Endwell, N.Y., native posted a school record 9.95 on the vault against top-ranked Florida last Friday and has been competing for the all-around title in nearly all of Arkansas’ events this year. "Michelle hasn’t let anything get in her way this year," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "She’s very intense and hard-working." "Michelle is probably the strongest vaulter we’ve ever had," added co-head coach Mark Cook. "She’s really working hard to maximize her abilities." Stout ranks 19th in the country on vault this year. The Gym’Backs will have their hands full with a strong Crimson Tide team as Arkansas faces a ranked opponent for the seventh consecutive week. It’s the fifth opponent in the top five for Arkansas this year. "We’ve been staying close with some pretty good teams this year," said Mark Cook. "Our goal for Alabama is the same – to stay close and see what happens." "We’re happy with where we’re at as a team right now," said Rene Cook. "Our goal is to get in and stay in the top 10 to 12. That’s pretty much what we expected of this group and it’s nice to see them being able to live up to that." Friday’s meet is the final home SEC meet of the 2007 season. Arkansas travels to Kentucky and Auburn as the conference slate winds down. The Gym’Backs return home for a pair of quad meets March 9 and March 23, before welcoming the SEC Championship to ALLTEL Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., March 31. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics or for tickets to home events, please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.