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Gym'Backs fourth in record-setting NCAA appearance
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        TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arkansas set a school record on bars en route to a fourth place finish at the 2004 NCAA South Central Regional in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday.
        No. 25 Arkansas posted a 49.375 behind sophomore Melissa Leigh's record-tying 9.925 to finish fourth. No. 5 Utah won the meet with a 197.625 followed by No. 8 Florida who turned in a 197.050 in a hard-fought meet. No. 18 Arizona tallied a 196.375 finishing ahead of No. 25 Arkansas with a 195.550. Illinois was fifth at 195.400 and Illinois-Chicago was sixth with a 193.875.
        "This was a great experience," said co-head coach Rene Cook. "It was our first regional and the team did awesome. We didn't have to count a fall and we had a great time and learned a lot."
        "I'm very proud of the team," added co-head coach Mark Cook. "We were able to get in a zone from the first event and picked up momentum as we went. This was a great learning experience and the next step for our program."
        Sophomore Katie Hardman opened the meet for the Gym'Backs scoring a 9.70 on floor. The Buda, Texas, native, stumbled slightly on her first tumbling pass but recovered for Arkansas.
        Freshman Katie Thompson followed on the floor with an identical 9.70 fighting the noisy environment of No. 18 Arizona's home gym. Sophomore Audra Loveless stepped out on her first tumbling pass but rebounded scoring a 9.475 in the second routine for the Gym'Backs.
        Freshman Cassie Drew rocked the floor getting Arkansas back on track. Her energy-filled up-tempo routine scored a 9.70. Freshman Rachel Barnett added a 9.675 followed by sophomore Dana McQuillin's 9.725 giving Arkansas a 48.50 after their first event.
        The Gym'Backs moved to vault leading off with Leigh's 9.65. Drew, one of Arkansas two all-arounders, followed with a 9.675 but it was freshman Kathy Thompson who wowed the crowd tying the Arkansas school record with a nearly perfect 9.90. Thompson finished tied for third overall on the event.
        Fellow all-arounder McQuillin added a 9.75 and Loveless posted a near career-best 9.80 despite stumbling on her landing. Loveless just missed her top score of 9.850 set earlier this year against No. 14 Louisiana State. Sophomore Hanna McLeod concluded Arkansas' vaulting with a 9.70 for the Gym'Backs.
        Arkansas scored a 48.825 giving the Gym'Backs a 97.325 after two rotations. Arkansas received a bye in the third rotation but Arizona led the meet after two events with a 98.025. Arkansas, the only other team to have competed on two apparatus, was second with 97.325.
        Arkansas emerged from the break and headed to bars in third place with everyone having completed two events. The Gym'Backs trailed Araknsas (98.025), and UIC (97.400) with a 97.325. They were just ahead of Florida (98.650), Illinois (96.900) and Utah (98.500).
        The Gym'Backs, ranked No.24 this week on bars, made up some ground with a record-setting 49.375. Leigh tied the individual record and her personal best with a team-leading 9.925 to tie for fifth overall. McQuillin and McLeod also tied their personal bests with a 9.90 and a 9.85, respectively, for Arkansas.
        Barnett and Hardman added 9.85s and Drew posted a 9.80 rounding out the Gym'Back scoring.
        Arkansas again had to go back-to-back without a break moving on to the beam to finish the meet (they had a bye in the final rotation).
        Arkansas jumped into second place after three events with a 146.700 trailing Arizona who had a 147.050 and leading UIC with a 145.575. They were the only three teams with three events complete at that point.
        McLeod had the tough task of opening the final event - the beam - for the Gym'Backs. She kicked things off with a near personal best 9.825 for Arkansas. Barnett followed with a solid routine earning a 9.825 tying her personal best.
        Leigh added a 9.725 for Arkansas and Drew followed with a 9.75 and McQuillin tallied a 9.25. Hardman wrapped up the scoring for the Gym'Backs with a 9.725 for Arkansas.

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