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Gym’Backs post best finish ever at SECs

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Gym’Backs post best finish ever at SECs

Jump to agate FAYETTEVILLE – The 15th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team scored 195.325 recording their best ever finish with a fifth place showing at the 2005 Southeastern Conference Championships in Duluth, Ga., Saturday. Arkansas remained ahead of No. 19 Kentucky and edged No. 21 Auburn in the final rotation for the fifth-place finish. Eighth-ranked Georgia upset three higher ranked teams winning with a 197.250. Second-ranked LSU was second with a 196.975 followed by No. 5 Alabama with a196.700 and No. 6 Florida at 196.150. Arkansas was fifth with No. 21 Auburn at 195.125 and No. 19 Kentucky rounded out the field with a 193.800. “We did the best we could tonight,” said co-head coach Mark Cook. “We were really focused. We didn’t fall all night. I mean, not only did we not count a fall but I don’t think we fell at all. We had a game plan coming in and that was to be loose and have fun and we definitely had fun tonight. It’s also great to be in our third year and to continue to move in the right direction each year.” Arkansas opened the meet with a bye and had to wait out the action in the locker room while four teams, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU were in the gym. The Gym’Backs emerged from the locker room beginning the meet on vault. Arkansas’ line up went through some changes this week after a last-minute injury to junior vaulter and floor worker Audra Loveless sidelined the third-year gymnast. Stepping in to start things for the Gym’Backs was sophomore Cassie Drew who opened with a 9.650. Junior all-arounder Dana McQuillin followed with a 9.625. Junior Hannah McLeod added a 9.525 followed by a 9.650 from freshman Mallory Machnik. Freshman Samantha Cortez posted a Gym’Backs meet best 9.750 and sophomore Rachel Barnett finished with a 9.550 giving Arkansas a 48.225 after the first rotation. Barnett’s vault was the first of her career as was her all-around performance as a Gym’Back. The floor exercise gave teams trouble early in the meet with both Kentucky and Alabama having to count falls on the event. Arkansas again had to play the waiting game drawing a bye following their vault performance. After the break, the Gym’Backs moved to the bars paced by freshman Emily Peacock’s 9.875. Arkansas scored 48.900 on the bars with returning all-SEC Gym’Back Melissa Leigh and McQuillin each adding a 9.750. Both Peacock and Drew, who scored a 9.800, came off the bars energized after solid performances. After two rotations, Arkansas was in sixth place trailing Auburn by three-tenths of a point and behind Alabama by just .650. The Gym’Backs moved to the beam, their strongest event, where Arkansas is ranked 15th in the country this week. Peacock, who finished last on bars, had a quick turn around to start on beam. The San Antonio, Texas, native did her job with a 9.850 tying her season/career best. Barnett, in just her second beam appearance of the year, posted a 9.775 that drew immediate congratulations from co-head coach Rene Cook. The Gym’Backs continued to shine on beam with Drew’s 9.850. McLeod followed with an identical score and Hardman, Arkansas’ top beam worker, wrapped up the event with a 9.800 giving Arkansas a 49.125. Arkansas’ 49.125 was the second-best score on that event this year. The Gym’Backs rested up with a bye following the beam before moving on to the final rotation, the floor. As the last minute Arkansas shuffled the line up subbing Peacock for Drew. The move resulted in Arkansas’ best finish ever at the league meet. “Emily just warmed up so well on the floor,” said Rene Cook of the change. “We knew we needed to be solid and we wanted to give ourselves every chance to do that. Katie hit on her routine and Emily had made changes recently but performed very well.” The delay for the line up change didn’t bother Barnett who opened with a season-best 9.825 for the Gym’Backs as Arkansas fought to stay ahead of Kentucky and to catch Auburn in the final rotation. Three 9.80s from McQuillin, Hardman and Cortez also with an 9.850 from Machnik allowed the Gym’Backs to leap frog over Auburn for fifth place. Georgia’s Katie Heenan won the all around title edging teammate Ashley Kupets 39.625-39.550. Arkansas’ top all-arounder was Barnett with a 38.825. Alabama’s Ashley Miles won the vault wit a 9.925 and tied teammate Terin Humphrey for the bars win with a 9.950. Heenan won the beam wit a 9.950 and Miles picked up the floor title with a 9.950 LSU’s April Burkholder captured SEC Athlete of the Year honors while Auburn’s Julie Dwyer was named SEC Freshman of the Year. The SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year was Michelle Reeser of Alabama and LSU’s D-D Breaux was coach of rhe year. Arkansas returns to Fayetteville awaiting word of its NCAA Regional placement which will be announced Monday, March 28. The Gym’Backs are hoping to finish in the top 18 in the country and receive of the seeded positions in the 48-team regional field. For more information about Arkansas gymnastics log on to LADYBACKS.COM. 2005 Southeastern Conference ChampionshipsDuluth, Ga. Attendance 7,518No. 8 Georgia 197.250No. 2 LSU 196.975No. 5 Alabama 196.700No. 6 Florida 196.150No. 15 Arkansas 195.325No. 21 Auburn 195.125No. 19 Kentucky 193.800Arkansas IndividualsVault: 48.225Cassie Drew 9.650, Dana McQuillin 9.625, Hannah McLeod 9.525, Mallory Machnik 9.650, Samantha Cortez 9.750, Rachel Barnett 9.550. Bars: 48.900Dana McQuillin 9.750, Rachel Barnett 9.725, Cassie Drew 9.800, Katie Hardman 9.600, Melissa Leigh 9.750, Emily Peacock 9.875. Beam: 49.125Emily Peacock 9.850, Rachel Barnett 9.775, Cassie Drew 9.850, Hannah McLeod 9.850, Dana McQuillin 9.650, Katie Hardman 9..800. Floor: 49.075Rachel Barnett 9.825, Dana McQuillin 9.800, Emily Peacock 9.750, Katie Hardman 9.800, Mallory Machnik 9.850, Samantha Cortez 9.800

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Alabama

49.300

49.450

48.875

49.075

196.700

Arkansas

48.225

48.900

49.125

49.075

195.325

Auburn

48.400

48.550

49.125

49.050

195.125

Florida

48.825

49.125

48.975

49.150

196.150

Georgia

49.200

49.325

49.325

49.400

197.250

Kentucky

48.550

48.775

48.425

48.125

193.875

LSU

49.150

49.325

49.200

49.300

196.975



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)