FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas gymnastics program lost one of its key figures when Rene Lyst was named the head coach at Arizona State on Monday.
“I am thrilled to welcome Rene’ Lyst to our family of head coaches,” Arizona State VP for University Athletics Ray Anderson announced in a news release. “Her passion, drive, and championship expectations align perfectly with our values for academic excellence, championship performance, and integrity. Her success in building a program at Arkansas gave us great confidence in her ability to have our program compete for an NCAA Championship.”
Lyst teamed with ex-husband and co-head coach Mark Cook to build the Arkansas gymnastics program from the ground up. They arrived in Fayetteville as a married couple and in their 12 seasons, the Razorbacks qualified for 11 NCAA Regionals, seven NCAA Championship appearances and two NCAA Super Six appearances.
Katherine Grable also became the program’s first NCAA individual champion when she won two titles in the floor and vault two weeks ago.
“Rene has been a vital part of our program and we appreciate all that she has contributed to the Razorbacks,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “We wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor. Our gymnastics program is one of the best in the country year-in and year-out and we expect that strong foundation that Rene helped build, to continue long into our future.”
Arkansas said in its news release Cook remains as the Razorbacks’ coach and the program will begin a search for an assistant immediately.
Lyst, meanwhile, will replace Arizona State coach John Spini. The legendary coach announced his retirement earlier this season after 34 years with the Sun Devils.
“The opportunity to be head gymnastics coach at Arizona State presented itself as a dream job,” Lyst said in an Arizona State news release. “John Spini is a legend in our sport and it is my goal to continue and build upon Arizona State’s legacy of winning tradition. We have an extremely talented, young team and I am excited for all the possibilities in front of us.”