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Gym’Backs ink five for 2007 season

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Gym’Backs ink five for 2007 season

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas gymnastics team announced the signing of five athletes to the 2007 roster this week. Inking with Arkansas this week was Allison Daniels of Kingwood, Texas; Amy DeFilippo of Torrance, Calif.; Casey Magee of Eugene, Ore; Sarah Nagashima of Bothell, Wash.; and Michelle Stout of Endwell, N.Y. The Gym’Backs went coast-to-coast signing what co-head coaches Mark and Rene Cook believe to be their top recruiting class. "Overall, we are very excited about this class," said Rene Cook. "It includes two former national champions and all of them are consistent competitors at the Junior Olympic Level 10 National Championships. The biggest goal of this class was to continue to improve our vaulting and replace the routines we are losing, especially on balance beam and I think we’ve done that." Daniels is closest on the map checking in from Kingwood where she was a two-year letterwinner for the Mustangs. In addition, she competed for the Rowland/Ballard Gymnastics club team in Kingwood. As a sophomore, Daniels was a state and regional qualifier in 2004 and a level 10 national qualifier in 2005. She captured the regional vault title, was third in the all-around and finished third in the all-around competition at the state meet with a 38.125 in 2005. "Allison is a great bar performer who is also very strong on beam and floor," said Mark Cook. "She has a strong desire to be a Gym’Back and that will server her well in taking a leadership role for us." "I think Allison will have an immediate impact on our bar line-up," added Rene Cook. "But I also expect her to compete for spots on all four events, and look forward to seeing her improve throughout her career as a Gym’Back." DeFilippo comes to Arkansas by way of the Academy of the Two Hearts High School and Scats Gymnastics in California. DeFilippo was fourth on the beam at the Junior Olympic National Championship in 2005 and was third at the regional meet on bars, beam and all-around. "Amy is a very artistic gymnast that has great technical abilities, and will make a huge impact on this program," said Mark Cook. "Bars and balance beam are her two strongest events, but her floor dance is unbelievable." "Amy is probably the most artistic gymnast of this class," said Rene Cook. "She is a beautiful dancer and is very elegant. She has a strong vault coupled with outstanding bars, beam, and floor and I think she’ll have an immediate impact." Magee’s high school, South Eugene High, didn’t have gymnastics, so she focused her prep career with the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics and Willow Creek Sports Center. A three-time Region 2 team member, Magee also has international experience competing in Brazil and Costa Rica. "Not too many people knew that she was coming here," said Mark Cook. "She’ll be a definite anchor on several events." "Casey is another former national champion on beam," said Rene Cook. "She is steady under pressure and will also compete for spots on bars and floor. We feel her steady and calm nature will enable her to be solid under the pressure of the SEC." Nagashima competes for the Juanita High School Rebels and Gymnastics East in Washington. A level 10 athlete, Nagashima was a state and regional champion in 2004 and regional champion on bars in 2005. She finished second in the all-around competition last year as well. "Sarah has great form and is a powerful competitor," said Mark Cook. She will surprise a lot of people with her excellent technical skills. She’s strong on vault, beam and floor." "Sarah will be a force to be reckoned with in the all-around," added Rene Cook. "She is consistent on all four events, evenly matched and we will be looking forward to her contributions." Stout rounds out the five-member recruiting class for the Gym’Backs. Stout attends Maine-Endwell High and competes from Southern Tier Gymnastics. In 2003, she finished first on the vault and third on bars at regionals. She was the national vault champion in 2004, and finished first on vault and second in the all-around competition at the regional meet. Stout added a second-place vault and third-place floor finish at the national meet in 2005. She was first in the all-around, vault and bars at the U.S. Challenge and first in the all-around, vault and bars at the regional meet that same year. "Michelle is a Junior Olympic national vaulting champion and an outstanding floor exercise performer," said Mark Cook. "She also has great skills on the other two events and will have an opportunity to do the all-around her first year. "Michelle’s explosiveness will not only help our program but will set her apart from her competition in the conference and in the country," said Rene Cook. "Although her strengths are on the power events, she is also a very strong bar worker and will help increase our difficulty on that event. This concludes the early signing period for the Gym’Backs. They open the 2006 season at the Collegiate Women’s Invitational in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Jan. 3. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)