Giant-killer Hogs strike in Lincoln
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LINCOLN, Neb. – Michelle Stout led the 10th-ranked University of Arkansas to the program’s first NCAA Gymnastics Super Six appearance as the Razorbacks upset several higher-ranked teams in the opening round of the NCAA Championship in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday. Stout earned first-team All-America honors as an all-arounder and on vault and bars. She earned second-team honors on the floor. Junior Casey Jo Magee was a second-team All-American on vault and floor, while freshman Jaime Pisani earned second-team honors on vault, bars and floor. Senior Alex LaChance and junior Sarah Nagashima were first-team All-Americans on the beam for the Razorbacks. The Razorbacks finished second in the second session scoring a school-record 196.95. Alabama won the session with a 197.025. Utah and UCLA tied for the third spot. The tie-breaker went to Utah. “Obviously we’re thrilled to be here,” said Arkansas co-head René Cook. “The team believed from day one and has worked really hard since nationals last year. We just couldn’t be more proud of the team and the program.” Florida, Georgia and LSU advanced from the first session giving the Southeastern Conference five of the six teams in the finals. “Our conference, especially the championship, prepares us for the postseason,” said Cook. “We have not done well at the SEC Championships but at the same time, it prepares us well for Regionals and Nationals. It’s pretty cool that all the teams that advanced here advanced to the championships.” The Razorbacks open the Super Six meet on the floor at 6 p.m. Friday. Arkansas opened the meet with a bye before floor and waited through the first rotation before competing. When they took the floor, they rocked it scoring a 49.15. That mark is the highest floor score for the Razorbacks at the NCAA Championships. Nagashima had a solid routine to open the meet for Arkansas. Her upbeat music got the crowd into it and she posted a 9.775. Freshman Molly Lewis followed with the first of two 9.80s with senior Alex LaChance scoring the second. Arkansas finished with three 9.85s from Stout, Magee and Pisani in the record-setting performance on the carpet. The Razorbacks moved to vault, one of the team’s strongest events of the year and continued its solid performances. Nagashima stuck her landing for a 9.825, and freshman Mariah Howdeshell added a career-best 9.85 in her first NCAA Championship appearance. Magee scored what looked to be a team-high 9.90 and Pisani followed the team leader with a 9.875 as Arkansas soared with energy on the vault runway. The Razorbacks’ top vaulter, Stout, anchored the team and Arkansas definitely saved the best for last. Stout set a school record with a 9.975 leading the team to a school-record-tying 49.45 on the vault. After the blistering vault performance, the Razorbacks again had to endure a bye and leave the gym while four other teams competed. They came out of the locker room with two events remaining – the bars and beam. Arkansas was solid and collected on the bars. Junior Amy DeFilippo scored a 9.75 to lead off followed by a 9.80 from Howdeshell and a 9.825 from Magee. Pisani counted a 9.85 but a fall by Nagashima could have rattled the Razorbacks. But Nagashima finished her routine with a 9.05 and came off the mat talking to the anchor Stout. The encouragement worked as she finished with a team-high 9.875 giving Arkansas a 49.10. The solid performance put Arkansas in the top three heading into the final rotation. The beam. Sometimes friend…sometimes foe. Tonight it was a friend. Not only did the Razorbacks stay on the beam, they rocked it scoring a 49.250 – just shy of the season-high 49.275 this year. Pisani and LaChance tied their career-bests while Nagashima has a career-high on the event. Nagashima’s 9.90 sealed Arkansas’ advancement to the Super Six and she and LaChance became All-Americans for the first time.NOTES-Michelle Stout set an Arkansas school record with a 9.975 on vault-Michelle Stout makes second ever appearance in the individual finals (for her and for the program)-Razorbacks tied school record with a 49.45 on vault-Freshman Mariah Howdeshell posts career-best 9.85 on vault-Arkansas posted a program NCAA Championship-best 49.15 on floor-Freshman Jaime Pisani tied career-best with 9.85 on bars-Arkansas first-ever Super Six appearance-Arkansas program started in 2003 2009 NCAA Championship Session II ResultsLincoln, Neb. – Thursday, April 16, 2009Bob DeVaney Center*Teams advance to the NCAA Super Six Friday, April 16, 2009Arkansas Individual ScoresVault: 49.45 (ties school record)Sarah Nagashima 9.825, Mariah Howdeshell 9.85, Alex LaChance 9.825, Casey Jo Magee 9.90, Jaime Pisani 9.90, Michelle Stout 9.975 (school record).Bars: 49.10Amy DeFilippo 9.75, Mariah Howdeshell 9.80, Casey Jo Magee 9.825, Jaime Pisani 9.85, Sarah Nagashima 9.05, Michelle Stout 9.875.Beam: xxJaime Pisani 9.775, Alex LaChance 9.90, Amy DeFilippo 9.85, Michelle Stout 9.825, Sarah Nagashima 9.90, Casey Jo Magee Floor: 49.15Sarah Nagashima 9.775, Molly Lewis 9.80, Alex LaChance 9.80, Michelle Stout 9.85, Casey Jo Magee 9.85, Jaime Pisani 9.85.