New Ranking Challenges Gym’Backs to Beat Cats
The Arkansas Razorback gymnastics team jumped three spots to No. 9 despite its loss to Georgia and is preparing with confidence for their meet against No. 14 Kentucky Friday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m.
Arkansas leads their series with Kentucky 18-1-1. However, Kentucky beat Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference Championship meet by nearly a full point last season.
“Kentucky’s improving,” co-head coach Rene Lyst said. “Their coaching staff is very strong. They’ve recruited well. They have a good system in place.”
“They will be a challenge for us for sure,” Lyst said. “They did beat us at SECs last year, so I’m sure they’re going to be looking forward to us coming to their own gym and doing that to us again. So we’re just going to have to go there, hit our routines, not count any mistakes, do a good job and hopefully come out with a win.”
The Hogs’ ranking in this week’s Gyminfo Women’s Gymnastics National top 25 ranking moved up three slots from Arkansas’ preseason ranking of No. 12. The ranking is based on the team’s average score of 195.775.
Arkansas managed to reach a No. 8 event ranking on the beam with 48.950 points at their first event against Georgia. The team also ranks ninth on vault, 12th on floor and 22nd on bars.
“I thought our weakness was definitely going to be vault, but we ended up vaulting a whole lot better in that first week than anticipated,” Lyst said.
“We are a little thin on bars, as far as talent top to bottom,” Lsyt said. “We do have a few girls that are training and almost ready to compete, so we’re really pushing hard for that, but I would say at this point in time, that’s probably our weakest event.”
The most obvious strengths of the team are their performances in beam and floor, with a combined total score of 49.000 for the team’s floor routines.
“Anytime you can say that beam is a strong event for you, you’re doing pretty well,” Lyst said. “So we feel real confident on that event.”
The freshmen on the team made a strong impact on how well the Razorbacks are doing so far.
“The freshmen are helping us out,” Lyst said. “We definitely need their routines.”
One of the notable freshmen, Sydnie Dillard, tied for 12th nationally on the beam with her score of 9.875.
“Sydnie was fantastic,” Lyst said. “That was such a joy to see her perform her beam routine. We basically recruited her for balance beam, and then she’s come through on floor and has been so clean on floor.”
Junior Katherine Grable won the all-around competition against Georgia with a total score of 39.450. Her score also earned a fifth-place all-around rank nationally.
Lyst said that the Razorbacks are entering the new gymnastics season with a “high level of difficulty, and a good level of consistency,” a good combination to continue improving as they perform throughout the year.
The coaches expect Arkansas to be one of the top 12 teams that will advance to the NCAA Championship after a season that landed the Hogs at the Super Six for the second time in program history. Six of the last seven years, Arkansas found their way into the championship.
“We just have to stay consistent, not count any mistakes and get a good road score,” Lyst said. “To get a good start on the road is really important for us.”