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Arkansas Gymnastics Fact Sheet #13b

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas Gymnastics Fact Sheet #13b

2008 GYMNASTICS FACT SHEET #12
at NCAA Regionals


Arkansas goes to NCAA Regionals
        For the fifth time in six seasons, the University of Arkansas earned an NCAA Regional appearance. The 11th-ranked Gym’Backs travel to No. 28 Minnesota taking part in the North Central Regional Championship in Minneapolis, Minn., April 12.
        In addition to No. 11 Arkansas, the North Central Regional includes No. 2 Utah, No. 14 Arizona, No. 23 Iowa, No. 27 Southern Utah and No. 28 and host Minnesota.

But you’re not in the North Central
        Right. Arkansas is a member of the South Central Region but finished the regular season ranked high enough (No. 11) to be one of the seeded teams. The top teams in the country are evenly dispersed throughout the nation in an effort to spread out the talent.
        Arkansas competed in its “own” regional in 2004 and 2006 but took part in the East Regional in 2005 in Durham, N.H; and was in the Northeast Regional last year in Ann Arbor, Mich.

From the NCAA
        INDIANAPOLIS—Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event [who has a minimum Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 9.4] were named to each of the six regions. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Athens, Georgia, April 24-26, hosted by the University of Georgia.
        In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or the all-around qualifiers. All regionals, except for the Southeast, will be conducted at 6 p.m. local time, Saturday, April 12. The Southeast regional is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern time, Saturday, April 12.

Ticket Information
Ticket Prices: Chair-back seats $13.00 Bench – adults $11.00 Bench – student/seniors $ 7.00 Group (15 or more) $ 5.00 Please contact the University of Minnesota Ticket Office for more information at 1-800-U-GOPHER or (612) 624- 8080.

About NCAA Regionals
        This year’s event takes place in The Sports Pavilion on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The Sports Pavilion is home to the Gopher men’s and women’s gymnastics teams, the volleyball and wrestling teams. It formerly housed the men’s hockey team until its relocation in 1993. The Sports Pavilion holds 5,700 spectators and is located at 1925 University Ave. SE in Minneapolis.

Arkansas at Regionals
        The University of Arkansas gymnastics program is just six seasons old but the Gym’Backs have made a mark at the NCAA Regional Championship. The Gym’Backs have qualified for five NCAA Regional Championships in six seasons and have been one of the “seeded” three times – 2005, 2007 and 2008. In addition, Arkansas hosted the South Central Regional Championship in 2006. Arkansas, ranked No. 18, upset No. 9 UCLA advancing to the NCAA Championship for the first and only time in program history.

Arkansas’ best score
        Arkansas’ best team score came last year in a near-miss at No. 12 Michigan. The Gym’Backs posted a 195.875 finishing second to the host Wolverines who scored 196.050.

From the Regionals come Nationals
        Arkansas has had a pair of individual all-arounders advance out of the NCAA Regional Championship reaching the NCAA Championship. the first was Dana McQuillin who advanced out of the 2005 East Regional in Durham, N.H. McQuillin was Arkansas’ first-ever NCAA participant and returned with the team in 2006. Last year, freshman Casey Jo Magee advanced as an all-arounder as well. Magee finished as the top all-arounder not on an advancing team and took part in the NCAA Championship two weeks later.       

What’s at stake?
        Just a trip to the NCAA Championship. Arkansas has had two individuals (see note above) who have advanced to the NCAA Championships and the Gym’Backs have gone once as a team in 2006. To advance, a team must finish first or second at the regional championship. Those 12 teams are divided by regional score into two groups for the NCAA Championships. Six teams compete in the afternoon and six more in the evening session with the top three from each session reaching the Super Six for a chance at a national title.
        The top two individuals on each regional event who are not on a qualifying team also advance to the NCAA Championships.

Arkansas opens on bars
        Arkansas opens the 2008 North Central Regional Championship on the bars. The Gym’Backs rotate to the beam, have a bye, move to floor, followed by vault and finish the meet with a bye. This is the first NCAA Regional in which the Gym’Backs begin on bars. Arkansas has opened by a bye before floor twice and on the floor exercise twice in their four previous appearances.

About the rotation
        As mentioned in the note above, the Gym’Backs open the meet on the uneven bars moving to beam, a bye, floor, vault and finishing with a bye. Where does everyone else begin? Arizona opens on vault, Utah opens on the bye before bars, Arkansas on bars, Iowa on the beam, Southern Utah on the bye before floor and the home-team Gophers start on the floor. There is a complete rotation order on page eight of the notes.

Who’s That Girl?
        The Gym’Backs will rotate with an individual all-arounder from the Air Force Academy this year. Abigail Rogers will practice and compete with Arkansas rotating with the Gym’Backs as if she were a member of the team. Rogers will attempt to advance to the NCAA Championships as an individual all-arounder.

Arkansas’ top scorers at Regionals
        The balance beam and floor exercise have been good to Arkansas at regionals. Current gymnasts Michelle Stout, Casey Jo Magee and Emily Peacock hold the all-time best marks at a Regional Championship. Stout is tied for the top mark on vault with a 9.90 set last year. Magee posted a 9.90 at year on beam and Peacock scored a 9.80 on floor in 2006. Other event bests include Kathy Thompson on vault with a 19.90 (2004), Melissa Leigh with a 9.925 on bars (2004) and Cassie Drew with a 38.925 (2004) in the all-around.

Who is the team to beat?
        Well that depends. Second-ranked and top-seeded Utah is statistically the team to beat. The Utes are tough though ranking first in the nation on vault, fifth on bars, second on beam and fourth on the floor. The second-highest seeded team, Arkansas should have its eyes on Utah. However, the Gym’Backs are more evenly matched with the third seed and 14th-ranked Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats have their sites firmly set on knocking off Arkansas for the second spot to advance to the NCAA Championship.

How do the teams stack up?
        Evenly. As noted above, Utah is the highest ranked team overall and on each event coming into this weekend. Arkansas and Arizona are much more closely matched and Minnesota will be tough in the Gophers’ home facility. Here’s a quick look at the national ranking of each team.



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