No. 22 Gym'Backs open home slate with LSU Friday

FAYETEVILLE — The 22nd-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team opens the 2006 home season hosting No. 11 LSU Friday in Barnhill Arena. Arkansas has three meets under its belt, all away from the friendly confines of their home gym. The team and coaches are anxious to show off in front of the home fans. "We’re excited to be at home," said co-head Rene Cook. "You can see the energy in the gym all week. The team is talking about chalking the sidewalks, and who they are going to put on the pass list. It’s just been a different energy all week." "Mark calls it ‘controlled aggression’," Rene Cook continued. "Georgia had a great student section and our girls were really energized by it. That made us even more excited to get back home and in front of our own crowd." Arkansas opened Southeaster Conference action last week traveling to defending national champion Georgia. The Gym’Backs posted 10 season-bests, scored their highest team score of the season and had season highs on vault, bars and floor. "We were better," said co-head coach Mark Cook. "But we as coaches still see room for improvement. Each week we are getting more consistent. We’re very happy we had some gymnasts step up at Georgia. The three away meets at the beginning of the year are hard but that’s what we had and we handled it." Sophomore Samantha Cortez stepped up for the Gym’Backs at Georgia posting a 9.9 on vault for Arkansas. Junior Rachel Barnett has also been solid for the Gym’Backs in the three opening meets. Scoring for Arkansas has been tough in the opening meets. The Gym’Backs competed well in at Hawai’i but counted a 190.625 to finish third overall in the six-team meet. Arkansas bettered their numbers to a 192.225 at Missouri followed by a 193.600 at Georgia. LSU opened the year with a four-place showing at the Super Six meet in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers added a win at the Texas Women’s quad meet and downed Iowa last weekend. This meet is the Tigers SEC opener. The Gym’Backs are home for two in a row hosting Penn State Friday, Feb. 3. The two meets are part of a five-meet regular season schedule. Arkansas also hosts the 2006 NCAA South Central Regional meet April 8. Tickets for the regular season meets and the regional meet are on sale at the Lady Razorback Ticket Office or on line at LADYBACKS.COM.