Magee goes to the 2007 NCAA Gymnastics Championship this week

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas freshman gymnast Casey Jo Magee travels to Salt Lake City, Utah, representing the Gym’Backs at the 2007 NCAA Championship meet Thursday. Magee, a Eugene, Ore., native, qualified as an all-arounder at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet hosted by Michigan April 14. Arkansas just missed qualifying as a team. She is the second Arkansas individual to qualify joining former Gym’Back Dana McQuillin who qualified as a junior in 2005. The 13th-ranked Gym’Backs finished third at the meet trailing No. 12 Michigan by 0.175 (196.050-195.875) and did not qualify as a team. "Obviously our goal was to qualify as a team for nationals so we are a bit disappointed but we are super excited for Jo," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "We’re paired with Georgia which is good. Casey Jo will be competing with some of the best athletes in our sport." Magee qualified by being one of the top two all-arounders not on a qualifying team at the regional meet. She finished the meet with a 38.800 despite a fall on the bars. Magee also posted a 9.90 on beam, a 9.825 on vault and a 9.800 on beam. Magee will rotate with No. 2 Georgia for the entirety of the meet. Magee and the Bulldogs begin on beam, get a bye, go to floor, then vault before another bye and finish on bars. Magee and Georgia begin the NCAA Championship on the beam – one of Magee’s best events. Magee enters the meet ranked 22nd in the country on beam with an RQS of 9.870 and a season and career-best 9.950. That mark was set at No. 23 Arizona State March 16th and ties the Arkansas school record. "Casey Jo is really gifted," said co-head coach Mark Cook. "We saw that potential right away. In addition, she’s worked her tail off to get better." "I’m definitely excited to be given the opportunity to represent the team at the NCAA Championship," said Magee. "Regionals were very exciting and stressful but it was the most exciting meet of the season. Now, I’m ready to see what the championship will be like." The Cooks admit they kind of "lucked into" Magee after she was referred to them by another program who couldn’t offer her a scholarship. "Another school brought Casey Jo to our attention," said Rene Cook. "We took one look at her and really liked what we saw in and out of the gym. We felt like she’d be a good addition and so we invited her to Arkansas. She’s really improved since arriving on campus and I’m glad she’s on the team." Magee echoed the sentiment. "I didn’t start out looking at Arkansas early in the recruiting process," said Magee, "but after coming to campus and meeting the team and coaches, well, it just all seemed to fit." Magee’s quest to make the finals begins at 3:00 p.m. Central Thursday. If she finishes as one of the top all-arounders in this session, she’ll advance to the finals on Saturday. For more information about Magee and the Gym’Backs, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.