Arkansas gymnastics will host several other teams at NCAA regional

Arkansas gymnast Lauren Williams (left) speaks with coach Jordyn Wieber during a meet against Auburn on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, in Fayetteville. (Andy Shupe/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas gymnastics team will have to outdo some top-shelf SEC competition if they are to advance out of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional next week.

The Razorbacks were seeded No. 10 by the NCAA Gymnastics selection committee on Monday and they will host No. 2 LSU, No. 7 Kentucky and nine other teams and seven other event specialists in the regional, set for April 3-6 at Walton Arena.

Fifth-year Coach Jordyn Wieber said the Razorbacks have been built to peak in April this season.

“I think in Year 5 it feels like a lot of the pieces of the puzzle that we hoped would come together are really starting to come together,” Wieber said after the SEC Championships on Saturday. “I sort of mean that from a culture standpoint as well as a gymnastics standpoint.

“We have so much strong buy-in from the team. They really trust our system, they really trust us coaches, they trust each other and we’re starting to develop a lot more competitiveness within the program, and they crave this big stage.”

Arkansas will host an NCAA regional for the fifth time in school history, following meets at Barnhill Arena in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017. 

The Razorbacks have advanced to the NCAA Championships eight times — 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018 — but none since the NCAA regional format changed in 2019.

The other three regionals will be hosted by Michigan (April 3-6), California (April 4-7) and Florida (April 4-7). The top two teams from each of the regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 18 and 20.

No. 15 Minnesota will be the other seeded team at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, with teams from Arizona, Nebraska, Oregon State, Boise State and BYU set to compete. The regional begins with a play-in competition at 2 p.m. on April 3 between Boise State and BYU, with that winner advancing into a four-team session the following day at 7 p.m. against LSU, Minnesota and Oregon State.

Arkansas and Kentucky are paired with Arizona and Nebraska in the 1 p.m. session on April 4. The top two teams from each session will meet in the regional finals at 5 p.m. on April 6.

Arkansas (10-11-1) is coming off a sixth-place finish with a 197.05 at the SEC Championships, its best score at the event.

The Razorbacks have lost twice to LSU, split two meets against Kentucky, and defeated both Arizona and Nebraska. They scored a program-record 198.1 in a dual-meet win over the Cornhuskers at Walton Arena on March 15, their first time to exceed the 198 mark.

The SEC put all eight of its teams into the NCAA field, with host and fourth seed Florida also entertaining Georgia and No. 13 seed Missouri; eighth seed Alabama slotted into the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Regional with No. 1 seed Oklahoma and No. 9 seed Michigan; and 14th seed Auburn paired with No. 3 seed California in the Berkeley Regional.