Pisani wins all-around title Friday

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Jaime Pisani won her first career all-around title leading the third-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team to a Southeastern Conference win over No. 31 Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Friday. Pisani scored a 39.325 leading Arkansas (6-1, 3-0 SEC) to a 195.075-194.500 win over the Wildcats as the Razorbacks remain perfect against Kentucky. The Razorbacks battled mental errors and low scores all meet and, despite the win, were disappointed with some areas of the meet. “We were prepared for the meet,” said co-head coach René Cook, “but we had some errors – we had to count some errors – and that’s something we haven’t done this year. We have to learn how to not let one error effect the next performance and how to pick each other up.” “We learned more about ourselves tonight,” added co-head coach Mark Cook. “We struggled at times but I think this experience will make us stronger.” Pisani won the all-title and picked up the vault win as well. Junior Casey Jo Magee, who had won five consecutive all-around titles prior to the Kentucky meet, was second and captured the beam title. Junior Michelle Stout won the uneven bars title as well. Stout anchored a solid bar performance for Arkansas tying her season-high with a 9.90 as the final competitor for the Razorbacks in the first rotation. Stout won her first bars title of the year with that mark. A 9.85 from All-American Magee supplemented three 9.825s from juniors Amy DeFilippo and Sarah Nagashima and freshman Pisani as the Razorbacks jumped into the lead after the first event. Kentucky opened with a fall from its first vaulter but rebounded with a 49.125 – just shy of their season-best. Arkansas was just better with a 49.225 on bars for the early lead. “The bars really set the tone,” said Mark Cook. “We scored well and settled into our meet routine. I thought we got out of the gates good.” Arkansas battled with its landings on vault scoring a 48.95 in the second rotation. Pisani paced the team with a meet-best 9.90 winning her third consecutive and fourth-ever vault title. Stout, an All-American on vault, was next for Arkansas with a 9.85 followed by a 9.775 from freshman Mariah Howdeshell. Kentucky finished with a 48.925 on bars allowing Arkansas to maintain a lead, 98.175-98.05, after two rotations. The Razorbacks moved to the floor exercise in the third rotation. Arkansas was the top-ranked floor team coming into the meet averaging 49.225 but the Razorbacks struggled with tight scoring posting a season-low 48.975 on the carpet. Pisani paced the team with a 9.875 followed by a 9.85 from senior Alex LaChance. Stout added a 9.80 and Magee tallied a 9.60 after stepping out on her second tumbling pass. Arkansas’ struggles were matched by Kentucky who battled its own demons on the balance beam scoring a 48.275 after having to count falls. The Razorbacks held a 147.175-145.325 lead as they headed to the beam, where they are tied for seventh this week. The Wildcats would finish on floor where they are ranked No. 26 this week. Arkansas had to overcome a wobbly start in the final event. A low opening score was followed by a pair of uncharacteristic falls by two solid beam workers. Sophomore Stacy Bartlett stayed on but scored a 9.60 and the pressure remained on the final two competitors. Pisani rallied with a 9.725 followed by Magee’s meet-winning 9.875 as the Razorbacks managed a 47.925 in the final rotation. Meanwhile, the scores were escalating for the home team on the floor as the crowd got into the meet for the final rotation. Wildcat senior Heather Hite posted a9.925 and would eventually win the event but Arkansas’ early meet lead was too much for Kentucky to overcome. The Razorbacks remain on the road in SEC action traveling to No. 5 Auburn Friday, Feb. 13, for a 7 p.m. meet. Arkansas returns home hosting No. 3 Georgia, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in Barnhill Arena. For more information and tickets please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.