DULUTH, Ga. - Arkansas' gymnastics team is in the finals of the NCAA Championship after posting the second-best score in school history in Friday's Session II semifinal to advance to the Super Six for the second time in program history.
The top three teams from each session advance to Saturday's finals, which are at 3 p.m. (central) at the Gwinnett Center.
The Razorbacks are in the Super Six for the second time in four years after finishing fifth in the nation in 2009.
"Wow," co-head coach René Cook says. "We started steady, but a little slow. We were in the game, but as we went through the competition, we kept gaining momentum. By the time we got to beam, we were hitting, hitting and hitting. When Kat (Katherine Grable) hit her dismount (for a 9.95), all of us jumped up because we knew we had secured our spot in the Super Six."
Arkansas scored a 197.15 to finish behind No. 4 Alabama (197.675), No. 1 Florida (197.65), but the Razorbacks upset No. 5 Georgia (196.50), and finished ahead of No. 12 Ohio State (196.525) and No. 9 Oregon State (196.475).
Arkansas had scores of 49.275 on vault, 49.275 on bars, 49.45 on beam and 49.15 on floor.
Arkansas, coming off a 196.825 to finish second in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on April 7, recorded just the third 197 in school history and the second-best mark all-time, only to the 197.225 against LSU earlier this year.
"I think the team was really focused and had a lot of energy," Cook said. "Especially on the last two events (bars and beam). We did a great job focusing on the little details. That maturity helped us get a 197. Anytime you can do that in the post-season, it's pretty phenomenal."
Individually, senior All-American Jaime Pisani and sophomore All-American Katherine Grable tied for first on beam with a 9.95 each, and Pisani tied for first on floor with a 9.90.
In the only individual national championship determined prior to Sunday's event finals, Pisani finished third in the nation in the all-around. She had a 39.625, behind the 39.725 of Florida's Kytra Hunter and the 39.65 of Georgia's Kat Ding.
"I'm so excited," Pisani said about advancing to the Super Six. "We did it my freshman year and again my senior year. I couldn't ask for a better way to end my career."
The Razorbacks opened on floor and posted a 49.15, which ties for UA's fourth-best in the NCAA Championship. Pisani led the way with a 9.90, followed by sophomore Bailee Zumwalde and freshman Stephani Canizaro, who each matched their career high with a 9.85. Junior Amy Borsellino scored a 9.80 and junior Kelci Lewis had a 9.75.
After one rotation, Alabama led with a 49.60, followed by Florida with a 49.575, Georgia 49.40 and the Razorbacks 49.15.
Arkansas then moved to vault and had a 49.275.
Grable led the way. Vaulting for the first time since an ankle injury on Feb. 24, she had a 9.90. Pisani had a 9.875, Borsellino and Lewis a 9.85, and sophomore Scarlett Williams a 9.80.
The team total is Arkansas' third-best in the championship and Grable's 9.90 ties for second-best.
Through two rotations, Arkansas and Georgia were the only teams to have completed two events and the Razorbacks led Georgia 98.425-97.675 after UG posted a 48.275 on beam.
Arkansas went into its first bye following vault. Following the bye and after three rotations, the team standings were Florida 99.025, Alabama 98.875, Arkansas 98.425, Ohio State 98.20, Oregon State 98.025 and Georgia 97.675.
In the fourth rotation, Arkansas was strong on bars with a 49.275, which is a school record for the championship.
Pisani led the way with a 9.90, but there was plenty of help with a 9.875 from Grable and sophomore Shelby Salmon, a 9.825 from Canizaro and a 9.80 from Borsellino.
Pisani's 9.90 ties the school record for the championship while the 9.875s from Grable and Salmon tie for fifth.
Through four rotations, Florida led with 148.375, followed by Alabama at 148.275, Arkansas 147.70 and Georgia 146.90.
The Razorbacks then closed their meet on beam and set a school championship record with a 49.45 to secure their spot in the Super Six.
Pisani and Grable each had a school championship meet record 9.95. Borsellino, Salmon and Williams all had a 9.85.
"I'm so excited about the way we performed," Pisani said. "We were really focused and dialed in on everything. We really wanted it. Gym'Backs have heart and we went out and showed who we are."
Results from the Session I semifinal were No. 2 UCLA 197.40, No. 7 Utah 197.20, No. 10 Stanford 197.125, No. 3 Oklahoma 196.925, No. 6 Nebraska 196.625 and No. 11 LSU 196.55.
The rotation is set for the Super Six and the Razorbacks open on bars, followed by beam, bye, floor, vault and a bye.
NCAA Gymnastics Championship
Session II Semifinal
Friday, April 20, 2012
No. 4 Alabama 197.675, No. 1 Florida 197.65, No. 5 Georgia, No. 8 Arkansas 197.15, No. 12 Ohio St. 196.525, No. 5 Georgia 196.50, No. 9 Oregon St. 196.475
Bailee Zumwalde 9.85, Stephani Canizaro 9.85, Kelci Lewis 9.75, Katherine Grable 9.70, Amy Borsellino 9.80, Jaime Pisani 9.90
Kelci Lewis 9.85, Mariah Howdeshell 9.75, Scarlett Williams 9.80, Amy Borsellino 9.85, Jaime Pisani 9.875, Katherine Grable 9.90
Amy Borsellino 9.80, Stephani Canizaro 9.825, Shelby Salmon 9.875, Katherine Grable 9.875, Jaime Pisani 9.90, Mariah Howdeshell 9.20
Scarlett Williams 9.85, Sammy Kolbas 8.50, Shelby Salmon 9.85, Amy Borsellino 9.85, Jaime Pisani 9.95, Katherine Grable 9.95