Top-15 Match-Up on Deck for Gymbacks Women’s Empowerment Night

Two of the toughest gymnastics teams in the country will square off on Friday as No. 14 Arkansas hosts No. 10 Kentucky at Barnhill Arena.

The turnaround was quick for the Gymbacks, who last saw action against SEMO in a rare Sunday meeting after both teams had to make schedule adjustments due to inclement weather. But the team has adjusted its preparation for the Wildcats.

“Not a ton of days in the gym, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” head coach Jordyn Wieber said. “It was very productive overall and the message is very similar from week to week: how can we improve a bit, how can we improve the half-tenths, how can we be a bit more consistent So practice has been great and I’m really looking forward to a great game against Kentucky on Friday night.

The Hogs and Wildcats are coming off victories last weekend, Arkansas over SEMO and Kentucky emerging victorious in a quadruple meeting in Lexington over Illinois, Georgia and Central Michigan.

Kentucky scored 197.450 on the outing and improved its overall ranking to No. 10 and average score to 196.750. The Wildcats’ strongest event currently is the vault, in which they are ranked fifth, only behind SEC opponent Florida at No. 4. Kentucky is also ranked just in the top 10 on bars and on the ground, and the team has the No. 6 in the country. -around Raena Worley.

Arkansas beat Kentucky on balance beam, as the Gymbacks came in 9th this week with an average score of 49.244. That average is bolstered by the 49.475 mark Arkansas posted in Florida on Jan. 28, a new program record. Of the top 10 teams in the country on the event, SEC teams take six of the spots.

Friday’s meeting will be the 38th meeting between the two teams, and while Arkansas mostly dominated the series in its first 10 years, the tide began to turn in 2014. Since then, the Gymbacks have a record of 5-10 against Kentucky, 24-13 overall.

Friday will also serve as the Arkansas program’s third annual Women’s Empowerment Meetup, a tradition begun during Coach Wieber’s first year in office in 2020. Additionally, the team will honor women who made the program what it is today with the alumni. Night.

This year’s iteration of the Women’s Empowerment Meet also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which was enacted in 1972.

“We’ve been working on the theme of women’s empowerment for the past two years, it’s something that I’m really passionate about, something that our team has really jumped on board for, and it’s really an opportunity for us to celebrate the empowerment of women, both in the community and in the world who paved the way for our athletes and our women today to do what we do,” said Wieber: “We’ve come so far towards gender equality in sport. We’re not there yet and we’re still striving to get there, but I think it’s great to to highlight that and to highlight what our athletes are doing here in Arkansas, both in the gymnastics program and in all sports here on campus.”

The Gymbacks are also hoping to build on the on-campus momentum that began with the men’s basketball team’s loss to No. 1 Auburn on Tuesday and aim to see record crowds in the student section.

The first 300 students in the building on Friday will receive a free Razorback Gymnastics t-shirt and food from Jimmy John’s.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the meet, with team introductions at 6:45 p.m. and action at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets are still available online HERE. The match will be streamed live on SEC Network+ and live stats will be provided.

Last outing

The Gymbacks had to make some changes to their schedule as the wintry weather hit the northwest Arkansas area last week, but they still found a way to compete, organize the the team’s first-ever Equality Night and pick up a win. Arkansas took the team win over SEMO 197.050-194.150, and one of the highlights of the day was rookie Leah Smith’s all-around win, her first in Arkansas. She recorded new personal bests on vault (9.850) and floor (9.875) and tied her high on bars (9.850) and finished with a total score of 39.425, which is Arkansas’ highest score for a freshman since Kennedy Hambrick in 2020. , and his first all-around victory for a rookie since Kiara Gianfagna in 2020. Hambrick took first place on vault (9.925), beam (9.975) and floor ( 9.950), all of which were season highs and a new career on beam. . Sixth-year Gymback Sarah Shaffer took first place on bars with a 9.925, which ties her personal best.


With the Tigers’ meetings against Missouri and Arkansas rescheduled earlier in the season, LSU has partnered with the Gymbacks to host a previously scheduled double meet, which is now scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 20 at Columbia against Arkansas, Missouri and LSU. . The action is set for noon CT.

More information

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Mara R. Wilmoth