FAYETTEVILLE - Senior All-American Jaime Pisani won the all-around title and helped power Arkansas's gymnastics team to a second-place finish in Saturday's NCAA Regional for its fifth straight trip to the NCAA Championship.
The top two teams from each of the six regionals advance to the NCAA Championship in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22. Arkansas, in its 10th season, earned a spot in a regional for the ninth time and its sixth trip to the national championship.
No. 3 UCLA, the top seed in the region, won with a 197.225.
No. 10 Arkansas, the No. 2 seed and hosting in Barnhill Arena, finished second with a 196.825, which is a school record for a regional. No. 15 Boise State had a 196.05, No. 19 Missouri a 195.45, No. 34 Maryland a 194.40 and No. 29 New Hampshire a 193.90.
Pisani, ranked No. 1 in the nation in the all-around, led the way with a 39.625, setting a school for a regional. Pisani, the Southeastern Conference beam champion two weeks ago, also won beam with a 9.925, and finished second on floor with a 9.925 and bars with a 9.875, and was fourth on vault with a 9.90.
"We were phenomenal tonight," co-head coach Mark Cook said. "We competed better than we have all season and now is the time to do that."
In addition to Pisani's performance, the Razorbacks good a boost by the return of sophomore All-American Katherine Grable, who missed the last three meets with an ankle injury, the return of junior All-American Kelci Lewis, who missed all or most of the three meets with an ankle injury. In addition, junior All-American Amy Borsellino finished sixth in the all-around with a 39.30. She had scores of 9.875 on vault for sixth, 9.80 on bars for 11th, 9.725 on beam and 9.90 on floor to tie for third.
"Having Katherine and Kelci back calmed us down and gave us some security," Cook said. "They performed well and we were the team we were in the preseason. In every sport you can get in a zone and we were in the zone."
Arkansas had a bye in the first rotation and opened on floor, scoring a 49.225, which ties for the school's second-best in an NCAA Regional.
Sophomore Bailee Zumwalde led off with a 9.825, which ties for the third-best score of her career. Freshman Stephani Canizaro followed with a 9.75. Lewis had a 9.775. Borsellino followed with a career-high matching 9.90.
Pisani, ranked No. 1 in the nation on the event, scored a 9.925. Grable scored a 9.80.
The Razorbacks moved to vault for the second rotation and scored a 49.20.
Lewis led off with a 9.80, followed by a 9.80 from Zumwalde. Sophomore Scarlett Williams posted a 9.825 and senior Mariah Howdeshell a 9.80. Borsellino and Pisani ended the rotation with team high scores of 9.875 and 9.90, respectively. Pisani's 9.90 ties for the school record in a regional while Borsellino's 9.875 ties for seventh-best.
Arkansas' team score of 49.20 is the third-best for a regional.
Arkansas went into its second bye with a 98.425 team total. Through three rotations, Arkansas led the meet, followed by UCLA at 98.30, Maryland 97.725, Boise State 97.60, Missouri 97.40 and New Hampshire 96.575.
After their second bye, the Razorbacks moved to bars where Borsellino led off with a 9.80. Canizaro followed by matching her season high of 9.825. Sophomore Shelby Salmon followed with a 9.85, Grable a 9.85, Pisani a 9.875 and Howdeshell a 9.825.
Arkansas had a 49.225 as a team, its third-best in a regional.
The Razorbacks closed the meet on beam.
Williams opened with a 9.75 followed by a season-best 9.80 from freshman Sammy Kolbas. Salmon had a 9.80 and Borsellino a 9.725. Pisani and Grable closed it with a 9.925 and a 9.90, respectively.
Arkansas had a 49.175 for its second-best score in a regional.
"We started on floor and had great momentum," Pisani said. "We had a lot of fire and will to win. We kept hitting routine after routine. It's exciting to win the all-around, but I don't even care. I'm just happy we're going to the NCAA Championship for the fifth straight year."
NCAA South Central Regional
April 7, 2012
No. 3 UCLA 197.225, No. 10 Arkansas 196.825, No. 15 Boise State 196.05, No. 19 Missouri 195.45, No. 34 Maryland 194.40, No. 29 New Hampshire 193.90