No. 7 Razorbacks host No. 16 Auburn
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ seventh-ranked gymnastics team is home for a second week in a row when the Razorbacks face No. 16 Auburn on Friday at 7 p.m. in Barnhill Arena.
Arkansas knocked off then-No. 12 Kentucky Friday, scoring 196.750 points, which was the highest in the nation for the week. That point total moved Arkansas from No. 10 up to No. 7 in the rankings.
“We need to compete consistently if we’re going to move up,” co-head coach Mark Cook says. “It’s really tight, but we’re happy with being seventh right now.”
Arkansas has an average team score of 195.894, but the Razorbacks are less than three-tenths of a point out of the No. 3 position (196.156).
Friday’s point total was also the third-best in school history and a record for Barnhill Arena.
“The team was relaxed,” Cook says. “The girls competed like they trained, so that was a breakthrough. They didn’t change anything once they got into the competition. Carrying practice over into the meet is a relief for them. I told them before the meet, ‘You don’t have to be perfect, but you need to be very good.’”
On the individual events, Arkansas is No. 3 on beam, No. 5 on bars, No. 6 on floor and No. 15 on vault.
Individually, sophomore Jaime Pisani is No. 7 in the nation in the all-around, followed by senior Amy DeFilippo at No. 11 and senior Casey Jo Magee at No. 12.
Pisani won the all-around title against Kentucky with a school-record tying 39.525. She has two all-around titles this year, four for her career and 20 overall career individual titles.
“She was on fire,” Cook says. “She stuck all her landings. Casey Jo also had a great meet, and Amy did a great job competing as an all-arounder for the first time since her sophomore year.”
DeFilippo recorded a career-best 39.225 all-around score. Magee won the beam title, tied Pisani for the bars title and had an all-around score of 39.375. In addition to the all-around, Pisani won vault and floor, and tied Magee on bars.
Magee’s 9.925 on beam ties for the third-best score in school history while Pisani’s 9.925 vault ties for fourth-best.
Nine letterwinners are back for head coach Jeff Thompson at Auburn, which finished fourth in the NCAA Central Region last year and ranked No. 16.
The series is tied 7-7. Auburn won three of the first four meetings, Arkansas six of the next seven and Auburn has won the last three.
“Auburn has a good team,” Cook says. “They are ranked No. 16, but they are going to push us. This is a bit of a rivalry and it will probably come down to the last event.”
The Auburn meet is being presented by Fayetteville Health & Rehab. The first 1,000 fans receive Tyson Foods Trading Cards, there will be a UA student drawing for a Blu-Ray player, gymnasts will meet with fans and sign autographs after the meet and all kids are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
As part of National Girl & Women in Sports Day, Dr. Mary Ann Turner will be recognized as a pioneer of women’s gymnastics on the West Coast.
The meet is also being televised by ESPNU and will air in a tape-delay broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m.