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McQuillin at Nationals Thursday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
McQuillin at Nationals Thursday

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas junior Dana McQuillin makes Gym’Back history Thursday becoming the first to compete at the NCAA Championships in Auburn, Ala. The three-day event begins Thursday with McQuillin competing as an individual on the all-around. McQuillin finds herself in Session 1 of the NCAA Championship. She is the individual “paired” with Utah moving with the Utes through each rotation. Utah will compete in the traditional team format and McQuillin follows as an individual before they all rotation. McQuillin begins her NCAA Championship on the bars, rotating next to the beam. She and the Utes have a bye before the floor, and then move to the vault. McQuillin finishes with a bye. "I’m going to try and focus on hitting clean routines and staying positive," said McQuillin. "This is a new experience for all of the Gym’Backs and I plan to take in as much as I can so that we can all gain from this experience." "Dana’s strength is consistency," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "She is steady in practice and in competition. Her focus at the NCAA Championships should be consistently, representing the team, having fun, and seeing if we can make event finals. Her best chance would be balance beam. The top four go from each session." McQuillin, a West Orange, N.J., native, has been one of the most consistent gymnasts since Arkansas added the program in 2003. A member of the first-ever recruiting class, she was the first Gym’Back to earn an individual all-around title and the first to earn Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Week honors. This year, McQuillin has averaged 38.661 in 11 all-around competitions. She recorded a season-best 39.100 against fourth-ranked Florida in Barnhill Arena. In that meet, McQuillin posted a 9.700 on vault, a 9.750 on bars, a season-best 9.850 on beam and a season-best 9.800 on floor. Despite the solid meet against the Gators, it was in Denver where McQuillin notched a pair of wins taking home the bars title with a 9.775 and winning the all-around with a 38.950. McQuillin added to the pressure of the Regional meet changing her vault the week before the competition. An injury to a teammate left the Gym’Backs without one of their 10.0 start value vaults and McQuillin, who had been training a more difficult vault, stepped up for Arkansas. "Dana performed a pike front with a half twist that she had been training for the past four years, and it finally clicked the week before Regionals," said co-head coach Mark Cook. "Some new drills really helped and we went for it in a big meet. Dana’s going to have to perform cleaner at nationals. She needs fewer execution deductions, has to perform her new vault more like training-not to rush it, and to add her flic layout, layout, full twist dismount off the beam. She also needs to observe and experience everything. That way she can bring it home, and communicate her experiences with her teammates." "It was a great season," said Mark Cook. "We almost achieved all the goals we set out to achieve. We had a great deal of fun in the process and I know I really enjoyed the year and the girls. They did everything we asked, and as a coach you can’t ask for more than that. We were top 15, went to Regionals for the second year in a row and got an athlete to nationals. That’s a great year!" For more information about Arkansas gymnastics log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Gymnastics (W)