Jump to results MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – The 11th-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team vaulted its way to the 2008 NCAA Championships by way of a second-place finish at the NCAA North Central Regional Championship in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday. Arkansas scored a 196.125, tying the school record with a 49.30 on vault in the team’s final rotation of the night. The Gym’Backs join second-ranked Utah as the two advancing teams to the National Championship. It is the second time in the six-year history of the Arkansas program the Gym’Backs have advanced to the National Championship. “What a thriller,” gushed co-head coach René Cook. “We were on fire tonight and I think we stuck more landings tonight than we have all season. We fought all year and finished strong and now we’re going to nationals. “We just can’t thank our fans and parents enough,” continued Cook. “Their energy not only carried us tonight but has been with us all season and we are grateful for their support and contributions.” Second-ranked Utah won the meet with a 196.950, followed by Arkansas’ 196.125. No. 28 Minnesota was third with a 195.275, with No. 14 Arizona (194.275), No. 27 Southern Utah (193.575) and No. 23 Iowa (192.450) rounding out the scores. Arkansas sealed its finish on vault after a solid floor routine got the momentum rolling. The Gym’Backs tallied a 49.225 on the floor behind 9.90 from senior Samantha Cortez. Sophomore Michelle Stout tied her career-best with a 9.90 on vault as the scores soared for Arkansas. The Gym’Backs came off the vault waiting through a bye in the final rotation before scores were finalized. Adding to the thrill of advancing, Arkansas had several gymnasts on the awards stand. Stout tied for second on vault while Cortez tied for fifth. Stout and sophomore Casey Jo Magee tied for second on bars and Cortez finished second on the floor. Magee finished third as an all-arounder as well. “Michelle and Sam really had great meets tonight,” said Cook. “Their individual performances along with Jo really stood out but it was a complete team effort tonight. Mark and I couldn’t be more proud.” Co-head coach Cook commented on her case of nerves prior to the start of the meet but the Gym’Backs didn’t seem to feel the same way opening with a 48.875 on bars as the NCAA North Central Regional got underway. The Gym’Backs’ bar score moved Arkansas into first place after the first rotation as sophomore Sarah Nagashima’s season-best 9.725. Magee and Stout both scored 9.825, followed by senior Emily Peacock’s 9.775. Sophomore Amy DeFilippo added a 9.725 to round out the Gym’Back scores. “It was a good start,” said Mark Cook. “Nothing flashy – just solid gymnastics and a good starting place for the meet.” Arkansas battled through a couple of wobbles in the beam rotation but hung on for a 48.725 in the second event. DeFilippo tied her season-best with a 9.825 and Magee finished with a team-best 9.85 as the Gym’Backs remained in the lead after two events. The Gym’Backs had a bye in the third rotation emerging from the locker room ready for the floor exercise. Assistant coach Dave Kuzara had the team ready for the floor and the Gym’Backs responded with a near season-best 49.225 – a mark that is a program best at a regional competition. Cortez led the team with a 9.90 paired with 9.85s from Magee and Alexandra LaChance. Stout contributed a 9.825 and Peacock added a 9.80 as Arkansas took firm control of second place in the meet. The Gym’Backs return to Fayetteville Sunday night before traveling to Athens, Ga., for the 2008 NCAA Championship, April 24-26. For more information regarding Razorback gymnastics or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.LADYBACKS.com.