Arkansas Gymnastics Team Meets Fans

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' third-year gymnastics program will hold its preseason Gym'Back Gala at 3 p.m. today in Barnhill Arena.

The Gym'Backs have five home meets on the schedule this season but won't return to Barnhill for their official home opener until Jan. 28 against Georgia, last season's national runner-up.

In the meantime, Arkansas will compete at Minnesota on Saturday, at Kentucky on Jan. 14 and at Auburn on Jan. 21.

Today's gala gives fans a chance to see the Gym'Backs in action, including performances by three newcomers.

"This year our fans will see five teams that made the NCAA postseason last year, including national champion UCLA (on March 19)," said Arkansas co-coach Mark Cook. "It's a great schedule."

Besides UCLA, the Nos. 2, 3 and 5 teams from last season (Georgia, Alabama and Florida) will visit Fayetteville, as will a Nebraska team that was ranked as high as sixth last year.

Florida visits Barnhill Arena on Feb. 18, Alabama visits on Feb. 25 and Nebraska joins UCLA and Oregon State in a quadrangular on March 19.

"It will be tough, but fans will see the improvement and see how close we are to the best teams," Cook said.

Rene Cook, Mark's wife who is also a co-coach for Arkansas, added, "It will be hard, but we want to close the gap on the top teams."

For the first time, Arkansas has switched a couple of meets away from its usual Friday night time slot. The Missouri-Arkansas meet is on March 13, a Sunday, and the Arkansas Quadrangular follows on the next Saturday.

"We've shuffled some dates around a bit to try to accommodate some of the other things that are going on around the campus," Mark Cook said.

All-around performer Dana McQuillin, a junior from West Orange, N.J., leads a UA team that has lost popular sophomore Kathy Thompson to a season-ending injury.

McQuillin and junior Hannah McLeod of Orlando, Fla., were captains on Arkansas' first team in 2003.

The Southeastern Conference meet will be held at Duluth, Ga., on March 26. Arkansas will host the 2007 SEC meet at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock.


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