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PREVIEW: Gymbacks ready for huge season

Arkansas opens the 2023 season on the road against Nebraska

Fayetteville, Ark. — Year four is underway for Arkansas Gymnastics Head Coach Jordyn Wieber who comes into 2023 with the 15th ranked team in the nation according to the WCGA Preseason Poll. This makes it 17 consecutive seasons in which the Gymbacks have been placed in the preseason top 20. Last season the Razorbacks finished in the Sweet 16, the teams 18th straight regional appearance and the second consecutive regional final.

Arkansas brings back key returners, including five-time All-American Kennedy Hambrick, who decided to come back for her 5th year. Also returning to the squad is Graduate Bailey Lovett and Leah Smith. The biggest addition to this years team is transfer from UCLA Norah Flatley, a three time All-American and the 2022 College Gym Comeback Gymnast of the Year. Both Flatley and Hambrick competed at the NCAA Gymnastic Championships as individual all-around qualifiers.

The Razorbacks also add four Freshman to this years squad in Reese Drotar, Jaime Pratt, Cally and Lauren Williams. Williams, who trained at Aspire Gymnastics in Bentonville, Ark., is the program’s first in-state recruit in over 10 years. Coach Wieber said in Wednesday’s media availability that there were some Freshman that would have an immediate impact and find their way into the rotation this weekend in Lincoln.

This will be the first time these two teams have faced off since 2014. Their ninth meeting overall. Arkansas has 10 regular season meets on deck for 2023, which includes five at home. Three will take place at Barnhill Arena, and two are set for Bud Walton Arena. Last season, the Gymbacks made history with the first-ever gymnastics meet at the venue against Auburn on. Jan 14, and a new single-meet attendance record was set with 10,345 fans in the building. There are hopes that Coach Wieber keeps this program on the upward trajectory and eventually all the home meets will be inside Bud Walton Arena.

Along with changes within the roster Coach Wieber promoted volunteer assistant Kyla Ross to assistant coach. Wieber and Ross competed together as part of the Fierce Five, who won the United States’ first-ever women’s gymnastics gold medal on foreign soil nearly 10 years ago on July 31, 2012 in London. During her four seasons at UCLA, Ross won four individual NCAA titles, one on each event, and the 2018 team title with the Bruins. She is one of just 12 gymnasts to record a Gym Slam – a perfect 10 on each event – and is one of only two to record two Gym Slams in their careers. She was also the first-ever women’s gymnast to own Olympic, world, and NCAA titles.

If you want a chance to see the Gymbacks in action there are still single meet as well as season tickets available. Season tickets are $25 each and you can get single meet tickets in advance for $5 for adults and $3 for children. You can also get the tickets at the gate for $10 for adults and $8 for children. This will be an electric year for the Gymbacks and they would love the support from the fans to pack Barnhill and Bud Walton Arena this year.