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ANN ARBOR, Mich. –The 14th-ranked University of Arkansas opened the 2008 gymnastics season with a second-place finish at the Michigan tri-meet in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday.
Arkansas scored a 195.250 in the opener finishing second to host and ninth-ranked Michigan who won the meet with a 196.075. Twenty-second-ranked West Virginia was third with a 190.30.
“Mission accomplished,” said a pleased co-head coach Mark Cook. “We hit 24 of 24 routines in the first meet of the season and only really good teams can do that the first time out. We have some areas we need to sharpen up in and get a little better but to come out with a 195 at Michigan, well, we’re pleased with that.”
“We met our goal to be consistent,” added co-head coach Rene Cook. “We worked hard all meet and came away with consistent performances. We’re hopefully going to build on that and show our home crowd something special next weekend.”
The Gym’Backs got a strong start on floor with no major mistakes as they premiered the first routines of the season. Sophomore Amy DeFilippo used strong tumbling and graceful dancing giving the Gym’Backs a 9.675 to start.
Sophomore Michelle Stout was equally impressive with powerful tumbling passes scoring a 9.80 followed by sophomore Casey Jo Magee who added a 9.70. Junior Alex LaChance notched a 9.80 leading into seniors Samantha Cortez and Emily Peacock.
The seniors hit with Cortez scoring a 9.725 and Peacock’s country-Elvis routine was good for a 9.75. Arkansas found itself in second trailing host Michigan who opened with a 48.95 and vault. The Gym’Backs were second with a 48.775 followed by West Virginia who opened with a 47.325 on the bars.
Arkansas moved to vault – one of the Gym’Backs’ strongest events in 2007. Springdale, Ark., native Ashly McPherson was just shy of her career-best leading Arkansas with a 9.825, as the Gym’Backs finished with a 48.850.
LaChance opened with a Yurchenko layout scoring a 9.775, followed by a 9.75 from Magee and a 9.725 from DeFilippo. Stout landed a bit short but managed a 9.575 followed by McPherson’s mark who tied for second overall.
Arkansas’ good scores couldn’t keep pace with the Wolverines however, as Michigan totaled a 49.350 on the bars to lead after two rotations, 98.30-97.625. West Virginia remained in third with a 93.80.
Magee anchored Arkansas on the bars turning in a team-best 9.825 leading the Gym’Backs to a 48.850 on the event. The race tightened with the host Wolverines but Michigan remained in the lead. Arkansas had three 9.775s on bars from DeFilippo, Peacock and Stout was well as a 9.70 from sophomore Allison Daniels.
After three rotations, Michigan continued to lead the field with a 147.075 followed by Arkansas at 146.475. West Virginia was third with 141.80.
Arkansas moved to the final event, the beam, opening behind seniors Cortez and Peacock. The Gym’Backs also introduced freshman Stacy Bartlett to collegiate gymnastics in the final rotation.
Cortez scored a 9.625 for the Gym’Backs followed by Peacock’s nearly flawless performance for scoring a 9.725 in one her strongest events. Bartlett led the team and finished second overall with a season/career-best 9.850 and DeFilippo and LaChance added 9.775s.
Magee finished third overall as one of three Arkansas all-arounders with a 38.975. DeFilippo was fourth with a 38.925 followed by Cortez with a 38.750.
The Gym’Backs open the 2008 home schedule Friday, Jan. 18, hosting Southeastern Conference foe LSU at 7:00 p.m., in Barnhill Arena. It is the first of two consecutive home meets with Penn State coming to Barnhill Jan. 25. For more information or tickets please call the Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.