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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — University of Arkansas junior All-American Casey Jo Magee became the program’s first event winner tying for the victory on balance beam with a 9.90 earning first-team All-SEC honors at the 2009 Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday.
Magee also tied for eighth in the all-around competition and teammate junior All-American Michelle Stout tied for third on the vault earned All-SEC second-team honors. They are just the second and third all-conference award-winners for the Razorbacks.
“It’s great to see the two of them honored,” said Arkansas co-head coach Mark Cook. “They really have worked hard all year and it’s nice to see that pay off at the SEC meet.”
All-SEC honors are based on finish at the league championship.
Arkansas finished sixth as a team scoring a program-best 195.65. Fifth-ranked Alabama won the meet with a 197.30. Top-ranked Georgia finished second with a 196.925, followed by No. 6 Florida with 196.750, No. 4 LSU with 196.55 and No. 11 Auburn with 196.35. Kentucky, ranked No. 22 this week, was last with a 195.00.
“We performed very well on three events tonight,” said Mark Cook. “We tightened up on beam and that was the difference. You have to be able to hold it together on all four events.”
Arkansas counted a fall on beam taking the Razorbacks out of contention for the fifth-place finish.
Arkansas had to wait through a first round bye before opening on the floor in the second rotation. The Razorbacks opened the meet with an SEC program-best 49.100 on the floor led by the final two performers, Magee and freshman Jaime Pisani, who tallied 9.875s. Senior Alex LaChance and Stout both scored 9.80s for Arkansas as the Razorbacks got out to a good start.
“It was an awesome start,” said Arkansas co-head coach René Cook after the first rotation. “We were calm and took care of business. We followed our game plan and got out strong.”
Arkansas had to return to the locker room after the floor exercise to endure another bye before returning for the vault.
The break didn’t seem to bother the Razorbacks who responded with another SEC Championship program-best 49.200 on vault paced by Stout’s 9.90. That mark was also an Arkansas-high at the league meet.
Pisani chipped in with a 9.875 followed by a 9.85 from LaChance and a 9.80 from Magee as Arkansas’ confidence soared. Arkansas’ landings were nearly flawless as their scores continued to climb.
But again the Razorbacks retreated to the locker room after the vault waiting through the team’s third and final bye. Arkansas would now have consecutive rotations on bars and beam to end the meet. At this point of the meet, Arkansas was the only team with two events left. Alabama led the meet with a 147.825 followed by LSU with a 147.650, Georgia with 147.425, Florida at 147.400, Auburn with a 147.225 and Kentucky with 145.775.
Arkansas was able to break 49.00 again with a 49.075 – just shy of their SEC best on bars. Stout paced Arkansas with a 9.90 while junior Sarah Nagashima helped with a 9.825 for the Razorbacks. Arkansas did have some tense moments when the fourth gymnast fell from the bars on the exchange but the final two performers, Nagashima and Stout, stepped up big for the Razorbacks and stayed on the equipment.
The Razorbacks would finish on beam and, like most of the rest of the field, scores were tough to come by. Pisani opened with a solid 9.60 but LaChance’s score was lower than expected putting some pressure on the remaining gymnasts.
Junior Amy DeFilippo stepped up with a 9.80 but a fall by the next gymnast put Arkansas in a pinch with two performers remaining.
Nagashima calmly scored a 9.80 and Magee finished with her event-winning 9.90 for the Razorbacks.
This year’s SEC Championship will air tape-delay Saturday, March 28, 6 p.m. central on FSN. Check local listings for more information.
The Razorbacks return home to prepare for the final home event of the 2009 season hosting the NCAA South Central Regional Championship Saturday, April 4, in Barnhill Arena. For more information and tickets please call the Razorback Ticket Office at 575-5151 or log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
-Team score of 195.650 is a program-best at SECs
-Junior Casey Jo Magee tied for beam win – the first event title for Arkansas
-Magee is the program’s first first-team All-SEC performer
-Junior Michelle Stout is the program’s second second-team All-SEC performer
-49.100 on floor is a program-best at the SEC Championship for Arkansas
-Magee and Pisani’s 9.875s tie the second-best score for Arkansas on floor at SECs
-49.00 on vault is a program-best at the SEC Championship for Arkansas
-Stout’s 9.90 is Arkansas’ best vault score at the SECs and one of only three 9.90s at the SEC Championships in school history