Official practice begins Thursday

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Coming off a record-setting performance in the NCAA Championships, Arkansas’ gymnastics team begins official workouts on Thursday.

The Razorbacks earned the program’s first appearance in the NCAA’s Super Six last year and finished fifth in the nation.

In seven years of existence, the program has advanced to an NCAA Regional six times and to the NCAA Championships three times.

“We are excited to officially get the 2010 season underway,” co-head coach René Cook says. “The team has been conditioning hard and voluntary workouts have been productive. We have upgraded several areas, including some of our tumbling and our beam dismounts.”

The Razorbacks have been participating in conditioning workouts since the beginning of the semester on Aug. 25. Workouts included strength and conditioning training, strength training in the gym, spinning classes and voluntary open gym.

Four All-Americans return to lead the team – senior Sarah Nagashima, senior Casey Jo Magee, sophomore Jaime Pisani and senior Michelle Stout. Other returnees are junior Stacy Bartlett, senior Amy DeFilippo, sophomore Mariah Howdeshell and junior Molly Lewis.

That group helped Arkansas go 21-14 least year with wins over No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Utah, No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 LSU and No. 7 Oklahoma.

Newcomers this year include freshmen Amy Borsellino, Kelci Lewis and Amanda Siebert.

“The team is motivated for the upcoming year,” Cook says. “The leadership provided by our returnees in combination with the talent of our freshmen provides great potential for this season.”

Arkansas’ 2010 season begins on Jan. 9 with a home meet against Arizona. Other home meets are against Kentucky on Jan. 29, Auburn on Feb. 5, LSU Feb. 19, Pittsburgh March 12 and Oklahoma March 19. NCAA Regionals are April 10.