Jordyn Wieber and the Arkansas Razorbacks are ready for the national stage

By Elizabeth Hunter | April 18, 2024
Arkansas head coach Jordyn Wieber at the 2023 SEC Gymnastics Championships.
© Patricia Duffy/Gymnastics Now

“It’s definitely not going to be easy, but this team has continued to surprise me all season.”

That’s what Arkansas head coach Jordyn Wieber said this week ahead of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.

“I’m gonna guess that they’re gonna go in feeling really competitive, but continuing to do the things that have helped us win and succeed so far this season. I’m just excited to see how day one goes, and I think anything is possible.”

Wieber is correct when she says anything is possible. The Razorbacks have broken multiple program records this season and continued to prove many people wrong when they beat out No. 7 Kentucky and No. 15 Minnesota at the Fayetteville regional for a spot in the semifinals in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Thursday will be the Gymbacks toughest competition yet as they face No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Cal, and Stanford, with just the top two advancing. Wieber says that the team is more than ready thanks to the difficult schedule they already had to face up to this point. 

“The good thing about our conference is that we’ve been in some really high pressure situations many, many times, even throughout the regular season,” Wieber said. “And you can’t get more high pressure than our day two regional meet with the teams that we had there, so they’re really prepared for this.”

Arkansas has already faced off against LSU and Cal earlier this year. The Razorbacks didn’t get the win, but since those meets took place, the team has increased their overall score by more than a point. 

Sophomore Lauren Williams and graduate student transfer Sirena Linton have both competed on the national stage in the individual competition, so their experience is coming in handy for the team’s preparation. Wieber said that Williams and Linton are both members of the leadership team for the Gymbacks and have been able to provide peace of mind and reign in the team’s focus when talking about what to expect. 

“That was honestly Lauren’s goal that she expressed to us. After last year, making it as an individual, she learned a lot and saw what she saw from the other teams and said, ‘Guys we have it, we just have to figure out how to make it happen.’ I’m really excited that we did that, and I think they’re (Williams and Linton) thrilled to be able to be going back with their team,” Wieber said.

Wieber is no stranger to high-pressure meets herself after being part of the 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. team that many people know as the “Fierce Five.” Wieber said the only advice she keeps giving the team is to stay present, calm and consistent. 

The Razorbacks will be starting on beam in the semifinals, which hasn’t happened for them yet this season. Wieber said that through practice this week she can tell that at this point it is muscle memory, so if they can stay in the moment, she feels confident that they will succeed in any scenario. 

“We’ve chatted with the team a little bit about it and they just say they feel like no matter what event we’re starting on or ending on they really have felt like this year we just take it one event at a time,” Wieber said. “So that’s our game plan.”

Wieber is feeling all the excitement and pressure with her team since this is her first time as a head coach to make it past regionals. At the young age of 23, she took over the Razorback program, and now, in just five years, has transformed it into a nationally-contending team.

2019-2020 was Wieber’s first season as Arkansas’ head coach. She had her work cut out for her since this was just one year after the NCAA championships moved from a 12-team to eight team format. Arkansas has finally fit all the right pieces into the puzzle and achieved their goal of gracing the national stage for the first time since 2018.

“This is what we expected to do,” Wieber said. “This is what we wanted to do, and it really feels like we took a big step this year. I know last year, not making it to day two, the team was feeling really unsatisfied. They expressed to us at the beginning of this year that they wanted to be the team that got over that hump of not just being satisfied with making day two regionals, but being the team that did it – that finally qualified to Nationals.”

Wieber and the Razorbacks will compete in Semifinal 1 on Thursday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN2. The two highest-scoring teams from Semifinal 1 will advance with the two highest-scoring teams from Semifinal 2, Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, and compete in the national championship on Saturday, April 20 at 4 p.m. ET. Individual titles and All-Americans will be named at the conclusion of both Thursday semifinals. For more information, click here.