Razorbacks ready to rock Lincoln

LINCOLN, Neb. – The 10th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team is ready to go on the eve of the NCAA Championship in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday. The Razorbacks are coming off the program’s first NCAA South Central Regional Championship and open the team’s second consecutive NCAA Championship appearance in the second sessions Thursday. “The team is very, very excited to get back to the NCAA Championship,” said Arkansas co-head coach Mark Cook. “Our training after regionals has been great. This team is very motivated to do good things this week.” “We’re excited to compete against another great field,” added co-head coach René Cook. “If we hit, we feel like we have a chance to move on to the Super Six. We just have to go out and do our job and the rest will take care of itself.” Arkansas faces an uphill battle as the season has come down to the final 12 teams. The Razorbacks find themselves in the second session taking on No. 2 Utah, No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 Oregon State, No. 7 UCLA and No. 11 Illinois with the top three teams advancing to Friday’s Super Six. But Arkansas is no stranger to uphill battles. The program is just seven years old and already reached mountainous milestones. This year, Arkansas upset Alabama and had a narrow miss at Oregon State and feel pretty good about their session. The Razorbacks have also faced No. 5 Florida, No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 9 Stanford getting wins against all of them this year. The aforementioned trio are in the first session along with No. 12 Penn State, No. 4 LSU and top-ranked Georgia. “Ya know, the difference this year is that we just feel confident that we belong here,” said René Cook. “We have faced seven of the other teams already this year and we competed well against most of them. That gives us a boost as we face these teams again. Winning Regionals was also a big boost coming into this meet.” Arkansas opens Thursday’s meet with the bye before floor. The Razorbacks move to floor, vault, a bye before bars, bars and finish on beam. Last year’s NCAA Championships, the second team appearance at that time, produced the program’s first-ever All-Americans in Michelle Stout and Casey Jo Magee. Stout earned first-team honors on vault and became the program’s first event finalist with Magee earning second-team honors on vault and bars for the Razorbacks. This year, Arkansas is looking to take that next step. “We were 10th as a team last year,” said René Cook. “We’ve set goals to move up as a team and to have some more All-Americans. We want to reach event finals and continue to improve and I think we’re in the right frame of mind to do just that.” Competition for Arkansas is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Central. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.