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FAYETTEVILLE – The 10th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team used a relaxed approach posting a season-best 196.425 to notch a Southeastern Conference win over Auburn Friday in Barnhill Arena.
Arkansas’ 196.425 is not only a season-best but also ranks tied for fifth all-time.
“We definitely executed tonight,” said co-head coach Rene Cook. “We tried to stay relaxed more and we did a good job of keeping clam and having fun.”
Arkansas opened strong with a 49.125 on the vault with senior Samantha Cortez winning the event title while tying her career-best with a 9.90.
Sophomore Sarah Nagashima scored a 9.70 in her first collegiate vault while sophomore Michelle Stout and junior Alexandra LaChance both tied season-highs.
The Gym’Backs moved to bars with career-highs from Stout and sophomores Amy DeFilippo and Allison Daniels to pull ahead of the Tigers, 98.10-97.275, after two rotations.
Arkansas finished their beam rotation with a 49.075 – the second-best mark of the season and Cook was energized after the event.
A career-best from Stout and season-highs from Cortez and DeFilippo highlighted the rotation. Arkansas could smell the 196 looming and the Gym’Backs needed at least a 48.825on the floor to reach their goal.
Arkansas answered the call with a season-high 49.250 edging last week’s 49.225 in the win. Freshman Stacy Bartlett was in the floor lineup for the first time this season opening the event with a 9.75. Stout tied her season-best with a 9.825 and three consecutive 9.85s from sophomore Casey Jo Magee, LaChance and Cortez secured the score. The totals improved even more as senior Emily Peacock anchored the event with an Arkansas-best 9.875 helping the Gym’Backs to the win.
“We are just so balanced,” said Cook. Michelle and Casey Jo are great all-arounders but everyone is contributing and we can see the constant improvement each week. We really weren’t very successful in our intersquad this week so we came back into Barnhill Thursday and did some things to just kind of loosen up and get our confidence back. I think that really helped this week.”
Arkansas next two meets are on the road as the Gym’Backs travel to top-ranked Georgia Saturday and are at No. 9 UCLA with Alabama and CS-Fullerton. The Gym’Back return to Barnhill Arena March 15 hosting No. 6 Oklahoma as the season continues.
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