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    SEC Gymnastics at the NCAA Championships

    Alabama Gymnastics Wins NCAA Semifinal, Advances to Super Six Team Final

    DULUTH, Ga. - The Alabama gymnastics team got off to a hot start in Friday’s second semifinal of the 2012 NCAA Championships and never looked back, winning its session with a 197.675 and advancing to Saturday night’s Super Six Team Finals and a chance at a second consecutive national title.

    “At the University of Alabama, our goal is always to be on the floor on the last night with the chance to win a championship,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “To be able to do this again, it never gets old. “

    Florida (197.65) and Arkansas (197.15) also advanced out of the second semifinal, putting three Southeastern Conference teams into finals.

    “I’m exceptionally proud of our team and our individuals, but also I have to give thanks to all the teams in our conference and the SEC in general,” Patterson said. “Competing against each other week-in and week-out is what prepares us for this championship. We were here a month ago for the SEC Championships and my hat is off to Commissioner (Mike) Slive for providing us this podium and this environment. I think when you see three teams from our conference that says a great deal.”

    The Crimson Tide started things off by scoring a 49.6 on the balance beam, the third highest score in school history, led off by a 9.9 from sophomore Kim Jacob and anchored by 9.95s from seniors Geralen Stack-Eaton and Ashley Priess. In between, freshman Kayla Williams and sophomore Sarah DeMeo chipped in 9.9s of their own.

    “Coming out like we did on balance beam, the hardest event to start on, we put the pressure on everybody else,” Patterson said. “That was a huge step for us. Beam routine after beam routine, all six of them were great. We’ve done that in practice, we got better at regionals and now it’s just a matter of doing it when it counts.”

    From there, Alabama scored a 49.275 on the floor exercise, led by Stack-Eaton’s 9.9, and a 49.4 on the vault, led by 9.95s from junior Marissa Gutierrez and sophomore Diandra Milliner.

    The Tide finished off with a strong uneven bars rotation, scoring a 49.4, powered by 9.9s from its last three competitors, junior Ashley Sledge, Stack-Eaton and Priess.

    Stack-Eaton was fourth in the all-around with a 39.600 while Priess was seventh with a 39.475.

    Alabama, Florida and Arkansas will be joined by the Pac12 trio of UCLA, Utah and Stanford, the top three finishers in the first semifinal session earlier on Friday. The Tide starts the Super Six Final, which gets underway at 4 p.m. EDT, on a bye before advancing to the floor exercise for the second rotation.



    Razorbacks Reach Super Six
               
    DULUTH, Ga. – Arkansas’ gymnastics team is in the finals of the NCAA Championship after posting the second-best score in school history in Friday’s Session II semifinal to advance to the Super Six for the second time in program history.
               
    The top three teams from each session advance to Saturday’s finals, which are at 3 p.m. (central) at the Gwinnett Center.
               
    The Razorbacks are in the Super Six for the second time in four years after finishing fifth in the nation in 2009.
               
    “Wow,” co-head coach René Cook says. “We started steady, but a little slow. We were in the game, but as we went through the competition, we kept gaining momentum. By the time we got to beam, we were hitting, hitting and hitting. When Kat (Katherine Grable) hit her dismount (for a 9.95), all of us jumped up because we knew we had secured our spot in the Super Six.”
               
    Arkansas scored a 197.15 to finish behind No. 4 Alabama (197.675), No. 1 Florida (197.65), but the Razorbacks upset No. 5 Georgia (196.50), and finished ahead of No. 12 Ohio State (196.525) and No. 9 Oregon State (196.475).
               
    Arkansas had scores of 49.275 on vault, 49.275 on bars, 49.45 on beam and 49.15 on floor.
               
    Arkansas, coming off a 196.825 to finish second in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on April 7, recorded just the third 197 in school history and the second-best mark all-time, only to the 197.225 against LSU earlier this year.
               
    “I think the team was really focused and had a lot of energy,” Cook said. “Especially on the last two events (bars and beam). We did a great job focusing on the little details. That maturity helped us get a 197. Anytime you can do that in the post-season, it’s pretty phenomenal.”
               
    Individually, senior All-American Jaime Pisani and sophomore All-American Katherine Grable tied for first on beam with a 9.95 each, and Pisani tied for first on floor with a 9.90.
               
    In the only individual national championship determined prior to Sunday’s event finals, Pisani finished third in the nation in the all-around. She had a 39.625, behind the 39.725 of Florida’s Kytra Hunter and the 39.65 of Georgia’s Kat Ding.
               
    “I’m so excited,” Pisani said about advancing to the Super Six. “We did it my freshman year and again my senior year. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my career.”
               
    The Razorbacks opened on floor and posted a 49.15, which ties for UA’s fourth-best in the NCAA Championship. Pisani led the way with a 9.90, followed by sophomore Bailee Zumwalde and freshman Stephani Canizaro, who each matched their career high with a 9.85. Junior Amy Borsellino scored a 9.80 and junior Kelci Lewis had a 9.75.
               
    After one rotation, Alabama led with a 49.60, followed by Florida with a 49.575, Georgia 49.40 and the Razorbacks 49.15.
               
    Arkansas then moved to vault and had a 49.275.
               
    Grable led the way. Vaulting for the first time since an ankle injury on Feb. 24, she had a 9.90. Pisani had a 9.875, Borsellino and Lewis a 9.85, and sophomore Scarlett Williams a 9.80.
               
    The team total is Arkansas’ third-best in the championship and Grable’s 9.90 ties for second-best.
               
    Through two rotations, Arkansas and Georgia were the only teams to have completed two events and the Razorbacks led Georgia 98.425-97.675 after UG posted a 48.275 on beam.
               
    Arkansas went into its first bye following vault. Following the bye and after three rotations, the team standings were Florida 99.025, Alabama 98.875, Arkansas 98.425, Ohio State 98.20, Oregon State 98.025 and Georgia 97.675.
               
    In the fourth rotation, Arkansas was strong on bars with a 49.275, which is a school record for the championship.
               
    Pisani led the way with a 9.90, but there was plenty of help with a 9.875 from Grable and sophomore Shelby Salmon, a 9.825 from Canizaro and a 9.80 from Borsellino.
               
    Pisani’s 9.90 ties the school record for the championship while the 9.875s from Grable and Salmon tie for fifth.
               
    Through four rotations, Florida led with 148.375, followed by Alabama at 148.275, Arkansas 147.70 and Georgia 146.90.
               
    The Razorbacks then closed their meet on beam and set a school championship record with a 49.45 to secure their spot in the Super Six.
               
    Pisani and Grable each had a school championship meet record 9.95. Borsellino, Salmon and Williams all had a 9.85.
               
    “I’m so excited about the way we performed,” Pisani said. “We were really focused and dialed in on everything. We really wanted it. Gym’Backs have heart and we went out and showed who we are.”
               
    Results from the Session I semifinal were No. 2 UCLA 197.40, No. 7 Utah 197.20, No. 10 Stanford 197.125, No. 3 Oklahoma 196.925, No. 6 Nebraska 196.625 and No. 11 LSU 196.55.
               
    The rotation is set for the Super Six and the Razorbacks open on bars, followed by beam, bye, floor, vault and a bye.



    Gator Gymnastics team advances to Super Six; Kytra Hunter first Gator to win NCAA all-around

    DULUTH, Ga. – The No. 1 seeded Florida gymnastics team moves ahead to Saturday’s NCAA Super Six team final after taking second in Friday’s second semifinal session. Florida was just edged for the session’s top position by defending NCAA champion Alabama, 197.675-197.650.

    The other advancing team also comes from the Southeastern Conference, as Arkansas makes its second Super Six appearance after taking third at 197.15.

    Rounding out Session II team results were Ohio State (196.525), Georgia (196.50) and Oregon State (196.475).

    Saturday will be a SEC vs. Pac-12 event. The top three teams from Session I (UCLA/197.40, Utah/197.20 and 197.125) face the three SEC teams on Saturday to crown the national champion in the NCAA Super Six at 4 p.m. (ET) in The Arena at Gwinnett Center<http://www.gwinnettcenter.com/Event-Info.66.0.html?&tx_calendar_pi1%5bf1%5d=998%3E>. Saturday’s competition will be streamed live on ESPN3<http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3>.

    Friday’s mission for Florida was simple. To advance to the program’s 10th NCAA Super Six appearance and the Gators completed that goal with Florida’s highest total ever in NCAA Championships competition.

    There is only one NCAA title determined in NCAA semifinal competition – the all-around- and that crown went to Gator freshman Kytra Hunter. She used a collegiate-best total of 39.725 to become the first Gator to win the NCAA all-around.

    Hunter is now two-for-two for all-around competitions in The Arena at Gwinnett Center, as she also claimed the Southeastern Conference title on March 24.

    Keeping things light with her team helped Hunter tonight.

    “I am really honored to get the all-around title. I went to each event as a new event. I just stayed in my bubble and the team’s bubble and we just had fun,” Hunter said. “Tomorrow is a new day and I am just honored to be in the Super Six with my team.”

    Hunter equaled her collegiate-best of 9.975 on vault to open competition, and added marks of 9.90 on bars and beam and posted a 9.95 as the Gators’ final competitor of the evening on floor exercise.

    Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn said Hunter’s focus is always on the team.

    “So far, as a freshman, to win the SEC and the NCAA all-around title is absolutely incredible. It also shows her work ethic,” Faehn said. “She’s so incredibly humble and all she thinks and cares about is what she’s doing for the team. It’s never about herself, and that’s why it’s so exciting for her to achieve these results. She just wants what’s best for Florida and for the program. I know there’s going to be even greater things for her to come.”

    Hunter and sophomore Alaina Johnson both picked up the maximum number of All-America honors available in a season – five – on Friday, making them just the second and third Gators to post the tally. Kristen Guise, who was just inducted into the Gator Athletics Hall of Fame on April 6, was the first in 1996.

    On Friday, the Gators opened up on vault with their highest total ever – 49.575 – in NCAA competition. The final four competitors each turned in marks of 9.90 or better – Ashanée Dickerson and Alaina Johnson (9.90), Marissa King (9.95) and Hunter (9.975).

    Florida also performed well on bars, with three Gators posting scores of 9.9 or higher. Johnson anchored the lineup by matching her season-best of 9.95, while sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto turned in a 9.925 and Hunter’s posted a 9.90.

    The Gators were steady on the balance beam, with all six competitors earning marks of 9.825 or higher as they turned in a total of 49.35. Hunter and Johnson led the Gators on the event with identical marks of 9.90.

    Florida finished on floor exercise and two step-outs held UF’s team total back to a 49.275. Hunter’s 9.95 led all semifinal II floor competitors. Dickerson earned a 9.875 while Johnson and senior Amy Ferguson posted 9.85s.

    For Faehn, now the focus fixes on Saturday’s NCAA Super Six, where the Gators will seek their first NCAA team title.

    “I was really proud of the way they performed. They come out with such fight and were really aggressive, which I liked. We just need a little bit more control with that tomorrow,” Faehn said. “I thought the whole team just stayed really close in our bubble and didn’t get caught up in anything, which was great. We really just need to get back, get caught up, get rested, rehab and refocus for tomorrow. It’s going to be really exciting.”



    Gym Dogs Place Fifth In NCAA Gymnastics Semifinal

    DULUTH, Ga. - The Georgia gymnastics team posted the meet’s highest score on vault and tied for second on bars, but counted two falls on beam and placed fifth with a 196.500 in the second semifinal session of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships Friday night at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.

    Alabama finished first with a 197.675, followed by Florida (197.650), Arkansas (197.150), Ohio State (196.525), Georgia and Oregon State (196.475). Alabama, Florida and Arkansas will compete in the NCAA Super Six Saturday at 4 p.m. ET along with UCLA, Utah and Stanford.

    "You go all year long with a team that really is the model of consistency all year,” said Georgia head coach Jay Clark. “We did not count a fall on any event for 13 straight meets. Tonight, it didn't go for us on balance beam. We won vault and we were second bars. Beam has been our highest ranked event for the bulk of the year. It has been a consistent event for us.

    “I'm disappointed, but I'm proud of the way they fought on the final two events. They fought with a tremendous amount of pride and executed those two events. They understand what Georgia is supposed to be and they want to carry that mantle so bad. I think they are just hurting right now and I think we are just all disappointed."

    Senior Kat Ding tied for first on vault and bars and tied for second in the all-around to lead the Gym Dogs, while Lindsey Cheek tied for third on vault and Chelsea Davis tied for third on bars. All three will compete in the individual event finals Sunday at 1 p.m.

    Georgia (18-9) opened the meet with a season-best 49.4 on the uneven bars despite a fall on the first routine of the meet. A 9.925 by Davis in the No. 4 spot was followed by a 9.9 by Gina Nuccio and a 9.95 by Ding.

    Alabama took the early lead with a 49.6 on beam, and Florida turned in a 49.575 on vault. Georgia’s 49.4 on bars was good for third place after the first rotation, while Arkansas scored a 49.15 on floor.

    The Gym Dogs then went to the balance beam, where they counted two falls and scored a 48.275. Shayla Worley led the team with a 9.925 in the anchor, and Laura Moffatt had a 9.9. Meanwhile, Arkansas posted a 49.275 on vault for a 98.425 total, ahead of Georgia’s 97.675.

    After a bye in the third rotation, Georgia scored a 49.225 on floor in the fourth rotation for a 146.9 total. Florida held a slight edge over Alabama, 148.375-148.275, while Arkansas was third with a 147.7.

    Georgia then went to vault and posted its best score since 2009 with a 49.600 as three of the Gym Dogs’ six competitors set or tied career highs. Davis led off with a 9.9, then Noel Couch followed with a 9.9. After a 9.95 by Cheek in the No. 4 spot, Ding closed the meet for UGA with a career-high 9.975 for a 39.650 in the all-around.

    A total of eight different Gym Dogs earned All-America honors Friday night including first teamers Ding, Cheek, Davis, and second teamers Couch, Gina Nuccio, Worley, Moffatt and Sarah Persinger.



    Four LSU Gymnasts Earn All-America Status at NCAA Championships


    DULUTH, Ga. – Four members of the 11th-ranked LSU gymnastics team picked up All-America honors while the team posted the third-best score in school history at the NCAA Championships with a 196.550 to finish in sixth place in Semifinal I Friday afternoon in the Gwinnett Arena.

    Freshman Rheagan Courville captured the all-around title in the session with a 39.475 and finished second on vault with a 9.925 to earn First-Team All-America honors. Three Tigers tallied Second-Team All-America honors. Ashley Lee recorded her second career honor on vault, scoring a 9.90 to finish in a tie for fifth. Sarie Morrison finished in a tie for sixth on bars with a 9.875 to earn All-America status, and Lloimincia Hall scored a 9.875 on floor to place fifth and become a Second-Team All-American.

    Second-seeded UCLA won the semifinal with a 197.400, No. 7 Utah finished second at 197.200 and No. 10 Stanford placed third at 197.125. UCLA, Utah and Stanford advanced to the NCAA Super Six Finals to compete for the national title Saturday at 3 p.m. CT, and they will face Alabama, Florida and Arkansas who advanced from Semifinal II.

    In Semifinal I, No. 3 Oklahoma finished fourth at 196.925, followed by No. 6 Nebraska at 196.625 and LSU at 196.550.

    “I thought it was a tremendous team effort out there,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “It was a great experience and good competition, and this team will walk away with a lot of lessons learned through the season as well as how to compete at the national championship level.”

    LSU (14-17) opened the meet on a bye and then moved to bars in the second rotation. With Jessie Jordan sidelined on bars with a minor injury, Britney Taylor not only saw her first action as a Tiger, but she made her first appearance as the leadoff performer on bars. Taylor turned in a solid effort with a 9.775 and set the tone for the rest of the lineup.

    Mckenzie Fox followed Taylor with a 9.70, and Randi Lau earned a 9.75. After Hall suffered a fall and scored a 9.075, Courville and Morrison closed out the event in style by posting a 9.85 and 9.875, respectively. The Tigers finished bars with a 48.950.

    LSU moved to beam and tied the best score the Tigers have ever earned in that event at the NCAA Championships, a 49.250 that the 2007 squad also posted in the semifinals. LSU was solid throughout the lineup as Ericka Garcia, Kaleigh Dickson, Hall, Courville and Jordan all scored a 9.85. The 9.85 was a new career high for Dickson and tied Garcia’s best mark.

    After sitting out the fourth rotation with a bye, LSU returned to post a 49.100 on floor in the fifth rotation. Competing for the final time in her career on floor, Lee shattered her career high with a 9.85. Lau followed with a 9.775 while Maliah Mathis scored a 9.75. Courville scored a 9.85, and Hall anchored with a 9.875.

    LSU ended the meet with a solid 49.250 on vault. Lau led off with a 9.80, and Mathis scored a 9.75 in the second spot. Lee stuck her vault to score a 9.90, and Dickson earned a 9.85. Vaulting for only the second time all year, Morrison recorded a 9.775. Courville anchored and posted a 9.925 to clinch her spot in the NCAA Individual Event Finals on Sunday.

    The 196.550 Friday marked the third-best team total for the Tigers at the NCAA Championships in school history, trailing only the 196.650 in 2004 and the 196.575 in 2008. The 196.575 in 2008 was good enough for LSU to qualify for the Super Six, and the 196.650 in ’04 was good enough for fourth place in that semifinal.

    With the five All-America honors earned by the Tigers on Friday, LSU upped its total to 111 honors in school history.

    “This team has nothing to hang its head about,” Breaux said. “When you leave nationals you want to leave with something, and these kids are leaving with their pride intact because they did a great job. I’m happy for our gymnasts who became All-Americans, but I am proud of this entire team for the way they competed.”

    While the season is over for the team, Courville will have one final performance at the individual event finals at noon CT Sunday. Courville has a chance to become the third NCAA Vault Champion for LSU, joining the likes of Susan Jackson (2008 champion) and Ashleigh Clare-Kearney (2009).