Men's basketball - The Kentucky men's basketball team dropped an 88-58 loss to Tennessee on Saturday. Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer led the Cats with 18 points and six rebounds. - Senior Julius Mays scored 12 points and has logged 10 or more points in five straight games. - Junior Jarrod Polson contributed a career-high 11 points.
Women's basketball - Kentucky has won its last three games and looks to keep its winning streak alive when it faces No. 11/13 Texas A&M on ESPN2's Big Monday in the second meeting of the season between the teams. - The Wildcats charted their 10th SEC win last week with an impressive come-from-behind victory over No. 16/14 South Carolina. Trailing by 16 points early in the second half, the Wildcats used a four-guard set to chip away at the Gamecocks' lead and win 78-74 - the largest comeback in the Matthew Mitchell era. - Four players scored in double digits led by redshirt sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill with 19.
Gymnastics - Then-No. 17 Kentucky defeated Missouri 194.250-194.125 on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum. - Audrey Harrison was the lone all-around competitor posting a 39.3, which tied her career-high set last week. - The junior also won balance beam, and shared the honors on uneven bars and floor exercise. - The Knoxville, Tenn., native now has 12 individual event honors this season and 19 in her career. - Her five all-around wins in 2013 have all come against Southeastern Conference competition. - Shannon Mitchell tied Harrison for the floor title, her second of the season and the third of her career.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team shot a 4697 on Saturday at the NCAA Qualifiers. - Sophomore Elijah Ellis and senior Stacy Wheatley delivered personal bests in smallbore, with Ellis posting a 583 and Wheatley shooting a 586. - Senior Henri Junghänel led the team in smallbore and air rifle, shooting a 588 in smallbore and a 594 in air rifle.
Softball - The No. 22/24 UK softball team continued where it left off last weekend by defeating another ranked team en route to a 4-1 record in the 23rd Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego. The Wildcats posted wins over No. 16 Washington, San Diego State - who is receiving votes in one poll - Cal Poly and UC Riverside. - Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess paced the Wildcats throughout the weekend at the plate, blasting two homers for a .500 average (8-for-16) at the event with five RBI. Cumbess also went 1-0 in the circle, while freshman hurler Kelsey Nunley went 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA over the weekend. Nunley defeated San Diego State and Washington, throwing a complete game shutout against the Aztecs allowing only three hits. - UK has now defeated three ranked teams this season in then-No. 3 Cal, No. 16 Washington and No. 20 Stanford. Coach Rachel Lawson and Co. have also taken down Oregon State and SDSU, who both were receiving votes when UK posted wins against them. After two weekends of play, UK is 8-3 with its only losses coming to No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 Arizona State and unranked Portland State.
Baseball - Kentucky began the season 2-0 with wins over UNC Asheville and Niagara in Spartanburg, S.C. UK wraps up play at Wofford on Monday against USC Upstate. - Junior second baseman J.T. Riddle set a new program record with a 6-for-6 game at the plate and starter Jerad Grundy tied a career-best with nine strikeouts in six innings in the win over Niagara. - Sophomore All-America southpaw A.J. Reed worked five innings on the mound and went a career-best 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI, leading No. 8 Kentucky to a 9-2 season-opening win over UNC Asheville.
Men's tennis - Kentucky advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championships this weekend in Seattle, recording wins over No. 10 Mississippi State (4-0), and No. 6 Georgia (4-2). - UK's No. 90 Anthony Rossi went 2-0 in singles action, defeating No. 12 Raymond Sarmiento of Southern Cal and knocking off No. 21 Nathan Pasha of Georgia 6-4, 7-6 (7) on Sunday. - With the wins this weekend, UK recorded their seventh win of the season over teams in the top 25 of the ITA rankings, as the Wildcats are now 3-1 versus teams in the top 10. - Tom Jomby also went 2-0 in singles play this weekend, collecting two straight-set wins. On Friday, Jomby ran past No. 43 Malte Stroppe of Mississippi State 6-2, 6-0 before giving UK a crucial point in its match with UGA, collecting a 6- 4, 6-4 win over No. 92 over No. 92 Ben Wagland at the two slot.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team knocked off No. 55 Ohio State and No. 54 Indiana throughout the course of the week, taking both matches 4-3. - Freshman Nadia Ravita recorded two singles win in the No. 1 slot to go along with two doubles wins in the No. 1 slot, paired with junior Caitlin McGraw. - Senior Jessica Stiles went 2-0 on the week in the No. 2 singles spot, taking both matches in straight sets.
Women's golf - The UK women's golf team began their 2013 spring season with an eighth place finish in the 15-team field at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic Feb. 10-12. - Senior Ashleigh Albrecht was the low finisher for the Wildcats, tying for 14th at 7-over-par. - Junior Liz Breed and freshman Sarah Harris were tied for 28th at 12-over, while freshman Cylia Damerau placed tied for 34th at 13-over.
Upcoming schedule Tuesday, Feb. 19 Women's tennis hosts Miami (OH) - 4:00 p.m. Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas) Men's golf at Mobile Bay Intercollegiate (Mobile, Ala.)
Wednesday, Feb. 20 Men's basketball hosts Vanderbilt - 8:00 p.m. Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas)
Thursday, Feb. 21 Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas)
Friday, Feb. 22 Baseball vs. Elon - Noon (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Softball vs. Presbyterian - 2:00 p.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.) Gymnastics at Florida - 7:00 p.m. Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College, Station, Texas) Track and field at SEC Championships (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Saturday, Feb. 23 Softball vs. Georgetown - Noon (Spartanburg, S.C.) Women's tennis at Kansas - 1:00 p.m. Softball vs. USC Upstate - 2:00 p.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.) Baseball vs. Coastal Carolina - 3:00 p.m. (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Men's basketball hosts Missouri - 9:00 p.m. Swimming and diving at SEC Championships (College Station, Texas) Track and field at SEC Championships (Fayetteville, Ark.) Rifle at GARC Championships (Oxford, Miss.)
Sunday, Feb. 24 Softball vs. Howard - 10:00 a.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.) Men's tennis at Samford - 10:00 a.m. Baseball vs. Kansas State - 11:00 a.m. (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Men's tennis vs. Jacksonville State - 2:00 p.m. (Birmingham, Ala.) Women's basketball at LSU - 3:00 p.m. Track and field at SEC Championships (Fayetteville, Ark.) Rifle at GARC Championships (Oxford, Miss.)
Men's basketball - Kentucky earned a hard-fought 72-62 win over visiting Auburn on Saturday to push its win-streak to a season-long five games. - The Wildcats received another double-double effort from freshman Nerlens Noel who posted 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. - Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer led five players in double-figures with a team-best 14 points. Sophomore Ryan Harrow and freshman Willie Cauley-Stein both notched 12 points, with senior Julius Mays pitching in with 10.
Women's basketball - Kentucky improved to 21-3 overall, 9-2 in the SEC with hard-fought road wins at Arkansas and Vanderbilt last week. - Against the Razorbacks, the Wildcats rallied from an 11-point first half deficit for an 80-74 overtime win. Sophomore guard Bria Goss scored 16 of her team-high 17 points in the second half and overtime after not starting the game for the first time in her career, a stretch of 57 consecutive starts. - On Sunday vs. Vanderbilt, A'dia Mathies put on quite the show by charting a season-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. She also dished out a game-high five assists and three steals. She has now reached double figures in 22-of-24 games, including 15 in a row. The 28 points moved her up to No. 3 on UK's all-time scoring list with 1,815.
Gymnastics - No. 18 Kentucky tied No. 6 Georgia 195.825 on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum. - The team score was a season-high for the Wildcats. - Audrey Harrison won the individual all-around title for the second straight week with a career-high 39.3. - Harrison also won floor exercise, and she now has eight individual titles this season. - Harrison has four all-around crowns this season, and they all have come in SEC competition. - Jill Chappel, Shelby Hilton and Shannon Mitchell all tied or set new event career highs on Friday.
Softball - The UK softball team started its 2013 season in style, going 4-2 against some of the best teams in the nation at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. UK got the season started fast with a nine-inning, 3-2 victory over No. 3 California in its season opener before defeating No. 20 Stanford in the weekend finale. UK also defeated Oregon State - who was also receiving votes in both preseason polls. - Junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess was the difference in the huge UK victory, pitching all nine innings, allowing only six hits and two runs while striking out six. Cumbess also went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI - including the game winner. - Five Wildcats closed the opening weekend with a batting average well over .350, including freshman Nikki Sagermann, who leads the team with a .429 mark. Junior Ginny Carroll leads the team in RBI with six, while senior Alice O'Brien has scored a team-high seven runs. - On top of Cumbess' pitching performance against Cal, freshman hurler Kelsey Nunley was UK's star pitcher on the weekend, going 3-0 with wins against WMU, OSU and Stanford. In all, Nunley threw 17.1 innings, allowing seven earned runs while striking out a team-high 19.
Men's tennis - The Kentucky men's tennis team climbed to No. 7 in this week's ITA rankings, after starting out the season 6-0. The Wildcats dropped their first match of 2013 in a back-and-forth affair 4-3 on Saturday night at No. 19 Illinois. - In the loss, No. 94 Anthony Rossi upped his record to 6-1 on court one singles with a 6-4, 6-4 win, while Charles Minc improved to 4-0 on the season with a 6-3, 6-3 win on court five. - The Wildcats won the doubles point for the seventh time in seven tries with wins on courts two and three.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team fell to No. 59 Tulane 6-1 on Saturday in New Orleans. - Freshman Kirsten Lewis recorded Kentucky's lone win of the match, defeating Caroline Magnusson 0-6, 7-6 (1-0) (7). - Freshman Nadia Ravita lost her first match of the season, falling 6-0, 6-4 to Klara Vyskocilova in the No. 1 slot.
Track and field - Cally Macumber won the 3,000 meters at the Husky Classic on Saturday. - Macumber's time of 8:59.98 set a new indoor school record. - Chelsea Oswald took eighth with a PR 9:06.64, third-fastest indoor time in school history. - The rest of the Wildcats spent the weekend competing at the Tyson Invitational on the Arkansas campus. - Bradley Szypka finished second in the shot put with a PR-tying throw of 18.50m/60-08.50. - Keffri Neal took second in the men's 800-meter final with a PR, team-best time of 1:49.79. - Allison Peare ran a season-best, team-leading 2:09.04 in the women's 800 meters to finish fourth - Keith Hayes produced a season-best time of 7.79 in the 60-meter hurdles finals to place fourth.
Women's golf - The UK women's golf team began their 2013 spring season at the Lady Puerto Classic in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico at the Rio Mar Beach Resort River Course. - The Wildcats opened up the invitational on Sunday carding a 13-over-par, 301 and are currently in seventh place. Senior Ashleigh Albrecht recorded the low round for UK with a 2-over-par, 74. - The tournament will resume on Monday at 7 a.m. ET and the tournament is scheduled to wrap up with a final round on Tuesday beginning at 6:30 a.m.
Monday, Feb. 11 Women's golf at Lady Puerto Rico Classic (Puerto Rico)
Tuesday, Feb. 12 Men's tennis hosts Notre Dame - 1:00 p.m. Women's tennis at Ohio State - 4:00 p.m. Men's basketball at Florida - 7:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Eastern Kentucky - 7:00 p.m. Women's golf at Lady Puerto Rico Classic (Puerto Rico)
Thursday, Feb. 14 Softball vs. Cal Poly - 6:30 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.) Women's basketball hosts South Carolina - 7:00 p.m. Softball at San Diego State - 9:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Friday, Feb. 15 Baseball vs. UNC Asheville - Noon (Spartanburg, S.C.) Softball vs. Washington - 2:15 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.) Gymnastics hosts Missouri - 7:00 p.m. Men's tennis at ITA National Indoor Championships (Seattle, Wash.)
Saturday, Feb. 16 Softball vs. UC Riverside - Noon (San Diego, Calif.) Men's basketball at Tennessee - 1:00 p.m. Baseball vs. USC Upstate - 4:00 p.m. (Spartanburg, S.C.) Softball vs. Oklahoma - 4:30 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.) Rifle hosts NCAA Qualifier Men's tennis at ITA National Indoor Championships (Seattle, Wash.)
Sunday, Feb. 17 Women's tennis hosts Indiana - 11:00 a.m. Baseball vs. Niagara - Noon (Spartanburg, S.C.) Women's tennis hosts Northern Kentucky - 6:00 p.m. Rifle hosts NCAA Qualifier Men's tennis at ITA National Indoor Championships (Seattle, Wash.)
UK sophomore Shelby Hilton propelled UK to a team-high score this season with her performances on vault and uneven bars. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Kentucky's 195.825 tie with No. 6 Georgia is huge for the UK gymnastics program. When head coach Tim Garrison and his athletes look back on the season and realize what they accomplished on Feb. 8, 2013, they'll smile and remember the great night they had and the late drama that led to it.
But at least for this moment, Garrison knows that this is just the beginning of something special.
While greedy might not be an appropriate term after Friday night's historic result, Garrison continues to ask more of his gymnasts. He thinks there are even brighter days ahead.
"We're excited, there's no doubt about it," said Garrison. "But what I told the athletes was we've closed the gap, but we haven't closed it entirely. We've made some strides. We're doing a lot of the big things well, but we're doing a lot of the little things not so well."
You could take Garrison's stance on his team's performance tonight a couple of different ways.
One: Garrison will never be happy with the way his athletes perform and good is never good enough.
Or two: Garrison strives for greatness, sees untapped potential in his athletes, and he feels it's his duty to bring the best out of them every day.
If you haven't figured it out, it's the latter.
Garrison has high hopes for his team, and he'll tell you straight up that he sees remarkable performances from the gymnasts every day in the practice gym. The progression of the team so far this season would suggest that Garrison is onto something.
Even the athletes are taking note of the progress they've made.
"We are definitely going in the right direction," said sophomore Shelby Hilton. "We've worked really hard, especially for tonight. We've been doing one rounds and preparing for our routines to hit and not make the little mistakes, so I think we really accomplished that tonight."
Last week against No. 6 LSU, Kentucky struggled on uneven bars. The Wildcats were forced to count a fall in the event and it ended up costing UK an opportunity to catch the Tigers. On this night, UK had no critical missteps, and as Georgia struggled mightily on the vault, Kentucky capitalized on the floor to pull within tenths of a point of the Bulldogs.
Tiarra Phipps led off with a 9.775 to get the ball rolling. Alexis Gross, who had a huge meet up until this point, lost a tenth when she stepped out of bounds. But the Cats ran off four straight scores of 9.8 or better to pick up their teammate like they've done all season.
Kenzie Hedges hit a 9.8. Shannon Mitchell a career-high tying 9.825. Audrey Harrison - no surprises here - shined with a season-high and career-high tying 9.9.
Needing a 9.825 to tie, floor anchor Kayla Hartley came up with her best performance of the evening.
The team swarmed Hartley knowing that she had just done something special. How special was still the question each member of the Memorial Coliseum crowd was left asking.
As the judges submitted their scores, Hartley earned an average of 9.8, falling just .025 points shy of pulling even with Georgia.
As both teams went to the floor for the final score announcement, Kentucky was proud of what it had done on the night, but the Cats knew they had missed an opportunity yet again to beat one of the best teams in the country and Southeastern Conference. Harrison, for the second week in a row and the fourth time in SEC competition, earned the all-around title with a final score of 39.3.
Not sold on the final outcome, Garrison and the staff made a final inquiry to the judges to review Hartley's final performance.
The judges went back to review the video. After further review, Hartley was awarded the addition .025 points she needed to help the Wildcats pull even with Georgia at 195.825 and give UK its best overall team performance of the season.
Still, Garrison thinks his team is only scratching the surface.
"In fact, we could be a lot better than this," said Garrison. "If we look around and we look at some of the things we've done, which we do every Monday after a meet, we look at mistakes and 'this we can fix, that we can fix.' There are a lot of things we can clean up and make a heck of a lot better."
A few varitions in the Kentucky lineups Friday night may be a contributing factor to as to why UK turned in their best night of the season. Garrison decided to tweak the lineups and move some athletes around to try and put them in better situations to succeed.
So far, even if it's just one night, the payoff has been huge. But he may be not done just yet.
"We might even play with it a little bit more," said Garrison. "I have a few other ideas with some athletes that are coming on in some events that they aren't even in right now. I think they paid off for us."
One of the athletes that seemed to benefit from the tweaks was Hilton. Garrison removed her from the floor lineup Friday, but stuck her on the anchor of the vault. She came up with an important 9.825 to finish the event, and then went over to uneven bars and gave UK a career-high-tying performance with an impressive routine that garnered a 9.825.
"We took her out of the floor lineup this week, but she performed outstanding on bars and she performed great on vault," said Garrison. "I think putting her in the sixth spot on vault has helped her tremendously."
For tonight, Kentucky can relax and live in the moment.
The Cats will enjoy their performance, spend time with friends and family and then Monday start preparing for Missouri trying to capitalize on the momentum they built against Georgia Friday night.
Garrison and his team will look back on this night when the season is over and see it as a huge night for their season and for their program, but the team's memory will be short when they get back in the gym next week.
"We'll smile a little bit about it tonight," said Garrison, "But it's a 195.825 and a tie of the number six team in the country. But it's just that: a 195.825. We're capable of 196-plus and that's where we're headed."
Sara Shipley (left) hits for a career-high on uneven bars with a 9.8. (Aaron Borton, UK Athletics)
There's no denying that the Southeastern Conference is one of the top conferences in collegiate gymnastics. As far as Kentucky's opponents go over the last two weeks, the UK gymnastics team is facing a murderer's row in a recent and upcoming stretch of SEC matchups. Last week it was two-time defending champions and No. 5 Alabama. Friday night, Kentucky went toe-to-toe with No. 6 LSU.
Though the Wildcats fell to the Tigers, 195.875-195.25, and head coach Tim Garrison doesn't believe in moral victories, Friday night's performance exhibited great potential for just how good this team could be later in the season.
"Obviously, we're disappointed in the outcome tonight, but there's a lot to be encouraged about," said Garrison. "I keep saying it and I can't wait to see it."
While Garrison continues to seek the consistency on the competition floor that his team brings in the practice gymnasium every day, he has seen that steadiness in junior Audrey Harrison. The junior earned her second all-around title in the last three weeks and third of the season with a 39.225, tying LSU's first-team All-American Rheagan Courville.
Harrison earned her second all-around title of the season at Excite Night when UK knocked off Arkansas, and she's been a model of consistency for the Wildcats all season long.
She proved it again against LSU with a career high 9.85 on beam and tied a season-high on her floor-exercise routine.
Harrison was encouraged by her team's effort Friday night as the Wildcats bounced back with a 195-plus score after earning a 194.8 at Alabama. She, like Garrison, sees the performance for what UK could be if the Cats clean things up.
"I'm proud of what we did tonight," said Harrison. "We had mistakes that were not usual for us. It was rare to see those things happen. It kind of gives us hope for the future because we know those things can be fixed."
Kentucky's ability to keep its composure was particularly impressive as UK bounced back on beam and floor despite a couple of tough breaks. The Wildcats started off strong on the vault with a team score of 48.825 highlighted by sophomore Shelby Hilton's career-high 9.875 to conclude the event.
The Wildcats then went to the uneven bars, an event that UK had seen much success in so far this season. Two costly mistakes wounded the Cats, however, and Kentucky was forced to count a fall in the event to knock the team score down to 48.500.
The Cats had no way of knowing at the time, but as UK finished up strong and LSU stumbled a bit down the stretch, the mistakes made on the bars potentially kept the Wildcats from picking up an upset victory over the talented LSU Tigers.
"(If) We hit that event right there, we're right there neck and neck," said Garrison. "Then we start putting on a little bit of pressure because we're so close, but you never can tell what will happen."
Garrison knows that his team is athletically capable of performing at a high level. His athletes pull off their routines daily in the practice gym. He's hopeful that as the gymnasts get more and more exposure to competitive atmospheres that those routines will manifest themselves in meets.
"I don't see these kinds of things that I saw on bars today in the gym," said Garrison. "I don't see the things we saw in vault today in the gym.
"I thought beam was great. I thought floor was great with a couple of little minor things. The last floor athletes that went really performed well. So we're real close. We're really, really close. We just haven't crossed the bridge yet."
The second half of the meet was much more encouraging as UK bounced back in a big way with performances on beam and floor.
Trailing 98.050-97.325 at the midway point, Kentucky looked to the beam to get back on track.
Junior Kayla Sienkowski led the event off with a career-high-tying 9.825. Harrison then earned the highest score of the night on the beam for UK with a career-high 9.85. To top it off, sophomore Sara Shipley earned her second career-high performance of the night with a 9.8 to pair with a 9.8 on the uneven bars. UK would finish beam with its highest score of the night, a 48.975.
Kentucky had a huge hill to climb to earn the victory heading into the floor event. The Wildcats were solid there, including sophomore Kenzie Hedges' season-high-tying 9.825. Harrison tied her season high with a 9.85 and junior Kayla Hartley finished the night off with a 9.775 as UK ended the event with a 48.95.
LSU clinched the meet, however, with a 48.750 that was enough to hold off UK's late rally.
Though Kentucky dropped its second straight meet for its third loss of the season, the Cats are back on the right track. In fact, Garrison was so encouraged by what he saw Friday night that he's willing to call his team one of the best in the country. If Kentucky gets it together soon, the rest of the SEC better take notice.
"We're an excellent team," said Garrison. "We're just not hitting like an excellent team. As we get more confident and start believing in that fact, then we'll be perform better, and when we perform better, we'll be able to hang with a lot of people in this conference and in the country.
"Watch out because we're going to be a force to be reckoned with, no doubt."
The UK gymnastics team has picked each other up in crucial situations in the early part of 2013. (Aaron Borton, UK Athletics)
Gymnastics, by nature, is a very individual sport. In each event, the athlete competes alone on bars, vault, floor and beam.
After each individual performance, gymnasts are judged and awarded a score. And that's that. On to the next event.
The UK gymnastics team has had some incredible individual athletes over the years, most notably Jenny Hansen, who holds program records for high scores in each individual event.
Junior all-around performer Audrey Harrison etched her name into the record books last weekend at Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic when she became just the 12th Wildcat to record a 9.9 on the uneven bars.
That 9.9 score, however, was crucial for Kentucky against No. 9 Arkansas. Harrison, currently Kentucky's lone all-around performer, anchored the uneven bars as the sixth and final gymnast to compete for UK. The preceding gymnasts had difficulties in their routines.
Arkansas had already scored a 48.350 after having a few mistakes of its own. After a misstep from Kayla Sienkowski, Kayla Hartley, Shelby Hilton and Alexis Gross each came to the rescue with solid performances and needed one more strong effort from their all-around ace. On each event, the top five scores are counted toward the overall meet total. With good scores from Hartley, Hilton and Gross to go with Sara Shipley's 9.8 to open the event, Harrison could erase her Sienkowski's slipup.
Harrison, as she's done all season, came through in the clutch.
She breezed through her routine nearly flawlessly. She could feel that something special was in the making. She made the final release into her dismount and stuck the landing.
While it was a special performance for Harrison, it was a momentum builder for the team. She had just helped Kentucky clinch its second event of the night after winning vault. But most importantly, she picked up her teammates when they needed her most.
"She hit that 9.9 bar routine like we needed and she finishes up events that we need her to step up on," said sophomore Alexis Gross of Harrison. "After (Sienkowski) fell, I had a bit of a rocky bar routine, and she went out there and hit that 9.9, and that stuff shows how mentally strong our juniors are."
On some of Kentucky's less successful teams in the past, athletes may have been more concerned about individual success during team struggles. This year's team puts the collective unit first and worries about personal success only with the intent of improving the team.
That's what Kentucky's early-season success has been all about. The team has been far from flawless, as head coach Tim Garrison is waiting for UK's breakthrough performance when the Wildcats put an entire meet together, but they have done a fantastic job of picking up the pieces for one another when things go awry.
They have been doing that since the first meet of the season when they traveled to California-Berkeley. When the normally sure-footed sophomore Shannon Mitchell fell off the beam, her teammates came to the rescue to cancel out her score.
"Shannon never falls on beam," said Gross. "Most of us looked at it and said, 'OK, now we have to step up for her.' When I made my routine, I told her, 'This one's for you.' "
And the Wildcats have been picking each other up ever since.
"From day one, you learn that," said Gross. "Five scores count, so if someone falls, everyone needs to pick up the slack as a team.
"It's not about individuals anymore when you get to college. It's about getting the best score for the team. It's just something that's ingrained in your brain."
While each individual event may only be performed by one athlete, the pressure of earning a perfect score is lifted when dependable and talented teammates surround one another other like they do for this team. And they never really know who it's going to be from week-to-week because, in reality, it could be and has been anyone.
Though Mitchell fell in the first meet at California-Berkeley, her performances against Arkansas left some of the best impressions of the night.
Mitchell stuck a high-score of 9.825 on the beam last Friday in her specialty event. She then turned around and gave a career performance on the floor with another 9.825 that led to her being awarded two team awards by Garrison for outstanding performances in each event.
"It was a lot of fun," said Mitchell. "I love showing my routine off on floor. On beam, I knew I just had to get up there and be confident."
Oh, and Mitchell is a walk-on.
Mitchell is a part of one Kentucky's greatest strengths that allows UK to be so versatile yet selective. It's been UK's strength in numbers that has allowed it to get off to its best start in program history.
"We have a lot more depth than last year," said Mitchell. "We know that if someone goes down, which we hope doesn't happen, we know that we have the seventh spot to step up and be strong."
This team, this collection of individuals, is a tight-knit group that performs for each of its members. The Cats perform and compete for the betterment of this UK gymnastics team. And you just never know where or when you're going to get a key contribution in the lineup.
That's mostly because it is hard to pick from a pool of 12. Garrison is using 12 different gymnasts in his lineup. Arkansas, by comparison, only used 10 on Friday night.
"It's all about you coming here and you do the best you can," said Garrison. "You win the job and it's yours. They're made aware of it very, very early. As a matter of fact, they're made aware of it in the recruiting process."
Scholarship or walk-on. Freshman or junior (UK has no seniors, which makes this team's start all the more impressive). If you're one of the six best in the gym, you're going to perform in that event no matter who you are.
Kentucky currently has 10 scholarship athletes. Garrison carries five walk-ons. Currently, three of those walk-ons hold a total of five lineup spots.
Perhaps the best example of Garrison's philosophy was displayed against Arkansas when freshman Marissa Beucler made her collegiate debut on beam. A January enrollee, Beucler had just been ruled eligible the day before the meet. When Friday rolled around, it was Beucler on the beam delivering a 9.825, which tied her with Mitchell for the team's high score in the event.
It was an impressive debut for an athlete who was facing the bright lights for the first time in her collegiate career.
"Down there on the floor with all these people watching, the first time after everything she's dealt with, she hit her set when she had to," said Garrison. "I think she's going to work her way into more lineups. There's no doubt about that."
As the competition builds in practice to earn spots in Kentucky's seemingly stacked lineup, some will see their roles increase, while others will see them diminish.
Gross, who was often an all-around performer last season due to small numbers and team needs, has focused mostly on beam and uneven bars this season. Now she is needed in a different capacity.
Though she continues to strive to be an all-around performer again someday, Gross, not to mention the rest of the team, is on board with letting the best six compete as long as the team keeps improving and winning.
"To be honest, that's the greatest thing," said Gross. "Last year, we had a smaller team. I did all-around and stuff like that was necessary to pick up the slack. This year, we can put our best six out there and I know that those are the best six people in each event."
Men's basketball - Following its most complete victory of the season within SEC action, the Wildcats conclude its two-game road swing through the Heart of Dixie at Alabama on Tuesday. - Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer turned in another 17-point performance, while classmate Ryan Harrow reached double figures for the eighth straight game and dished out a UK career-high eight assists in the win. Freshman Nerlens Noel continued his imposing defensive prowess with a career-high seven blocks to couple with 10 points and nine rebounds. - Alabama enters the matchup following a one-point victory over Texas A&M on Saturday. The Anthony Grant-led Crimson Tide are 11-6 overall on the season and own a 3-1 record within SEC play.
Women's basketball - No. 5 Kentucky improved to 18-1 overall, 6-0 in the SEC with commanding wins over Mississippi State and Auburn last week in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats are now riding a school-record 33-game home winning streak and the nation's longest overall winning streak at 17. - The 100-47 win over Mississippi State was the largest margin of victory over an SEC opponent in school history. Junior center DeNesha Stallworth led four players in double digits with a UK career-high 25 points in just 24 minutes of action. Senior All-America candidate A'dia Mathies followed with 21 points. UK forced 25 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 46-20. - In UK's "We Back Pat" game vs. Auburn, defense was again the name of the game. The Wildcats held the Tigers to just 21 first half points, taking a 51-21 lead at the break. Mathies led the way with 16 points in the opening stanza. She went on to notch her second straight 20-point game with a season-high 24 points on a near perfect shooting night. Mathies hit 8-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-6 from the 3-point line and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. Gymnastics - The No. 14 University of Kentucky gymnastics team defeated No. 9 Arkansas in convincing fashion in front of more than 5,600 fans inside Memorial Coliseum on Friday. - The Wildcats took the meet 195.5-193.075 while winning every team and individual event. - The Wildcats continued the unprecedented start to the season as Friday's win gave the program back-to-back SEC wins for the first time ever. All four wins this season have come against higher-ranked opponents. - Kentucky is off to the best start in school history as the Wildcats have never before topped 195 in all three meets to begin the season. - Audrey Harrison stole the Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic show winning the individual all-around competition for the second consecutive week. The Knoxville, Tenn., native's season high 39.275 was highlighted by her 9.9 to anchor on uneven bars with a score, which ties for her career high. - Harrison won individual titles on bars and floor exercise (9.85). The junior now has four event titles this year and 11 all-time.
Rifle - Kentucky knocked off two top-15 teams over the weekend in Oxford, Miss., defeating No. 11 Ole Miss (4670 - 4611) on Saturday and No. 10 Memphis (4646 - 4598) on Sunday. - Senior Heather Greathouse led the Wildcats in their win over Ole Miss, shooting an 1176 aggregate score. Freshman Connor Davis delivered a 594 in air rifle. - Senior Ed Ryznar had a strong showing in Kentucky's win over Memphis, shooting a 574 in smallbore and 588 in air rifle. - Sophomore Cody Manning recorded a new personal best aggregate score of 1162 in Sunday's match with Memphis.
Men's tennis - The Kentucky men's tennis team got off to a 2-0 start to the 2013 season with two 7-0 wins over Northern Kentucky and Morehead State. - The pair of wins were the first in the head coaching career of Cedric Kauffmann. - No. 15 Tom Jomby and No. 94 Anthony Rossi each earned singles wins on Sunday, while Jomby and Kevin Lai went 2-0 on the day in doubles. - UK next takes to the court on Wednesday at No. 22 Indiana in Bloomington for the Wildcats first of 15 matches versus ranked teams in 2013.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team opened the 2013 season with two dominating wins, defeating Morehead State 7-0 and Belmont 6-1 on Saturday. - Freshman Nadia Ravita opened her collegiate career with two singles wins in the No. 1 spot and two doubles wins paired with junior Caitlin McGraw in the No. 1 doubles slot. - Sophomore Stephanie Fox failed to drop a set in two singles wins on Saturday, taking both contests 6-0, 6-0.
Tuesday, Jan. 22 Men's basketball at Alabama - 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 23 Men's tennis at Indiana - 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 24 Women's basketball at South Carolina - 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 25 Track and field hosts Rod McCravy Memorial - 10:00 a.m. Men's tennis hosts Michigan State - 1:00 p.m. Gymnastics at Alabama - 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26 Track and field hosts Rod McCravy Memorial - 10:00 a.m. Swimming and diving host Louisville - 12:30 p.m. Men's basketball hosts LSU - 4:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Texas/South Carolina
Audrey Harrison earned the all-around title in Friday's 195.5-193.075 victory over Arkansas. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Last weekend, the No. 14 ranked Kentucky gymnastics team did something it had not done since 1996 when it defeated Auburn. This weekend, Kentucky pulled off a feat it had never accomplished at all.
With last weekend's victory over No. 13 Auburn and Friday night's win over No. 9 Arkansas, Kentucky won back-to-back Southeastern Conference dual meets for the first time in the history of UK gymnastics.
The historic win came in Kentucky's home opener, Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic. The night started with an elaborate flame show and the Wildcats remained hot throughout the competition defeating the Razorbacks, 195.500-193.075.
"I think any time you can get a win, especially back-to-back wins in the SEC, you don't take it for granted," said Garrison. "They're hard to come by in this conference. It's the toughest gymnastics conference in the country."
Despite competing in the aforementioned "toughest conference in the country," UK is now 3-0 in against conference opponents and is continuing on a record pace for the program. However, Kentucky was far from perfect Friday night.
The Wildcats got off to a very slow start in the meet in front a jam-packed Memorial Coliseum on the vault, but Kenzie Hedges and Holly Cunningham put up two huge performances to save the event, scoring 9.8 and 9.825 respectively to close out the vault with a team score of 48.75.
The momentum picked up from there.
As UK shifted to the uneven bars, the Wildcats grabbed a stranglehold of the meet that they would not relinquish.
Kayla Sienkowski got things started with a strong 9.8 to lead off the uneven bars, but things got dicey when Shannon Mitchell broke her routine and finished with a 9.1. The team rallied behind her and put up solid scores. When it became Audrey Harrison's turn on the bars, she was prepared to deliver the most special performance of the night.
"When I'm going through my routine, I get kind of excited as I'm doing it," said Harrison. "It felt really great. It's one of my favorite feelings hitting a routine, so I was really excited."
The routine earned her a career- and season-high-tying 9.9 for the event as she stuck the landing. It was the jolt that Kentucky needed that carried UK the rest of the way as UK had beaten Arkansas each of the first two events.
From there, the Cats put up their best event score of the evening on the beam, earning a 49.0 that was highlighted by Shannon Mitchell and Marissa Beucler's 9.825 scores that they posted back-to-back.
The 9.825 for Mitchell was a career best on the beam. For Beucler, Friday night was the first meet that she had competed in all season. It was a great start out of the gate for freshman in her lone event of the competition.
The Wildcats had a comfortable lead heading into the floor event with a chance to clinch the meet. Mitchell followed up her beam performance with the second-best floor performance of the night, earning a career-high 9.825. And as she had done all evening, Harrison followed Mitchell with the best score in the floor event with a season-high 9.85.
With both teams completing their final events, Kentucky had defeated Arkansas on the beam, 49.0-48.675 while also taking the floor event, 195.5-144.4. The wins in the last two events capped off a sweep of all four events over the-ninth ranked team in the country.
Harrison walked away with the all-around individual victory scoring 39.275. She knew that she had performed well on the evening, but even she didn't expect the final result.
"It was exciting because I didn't add up my scores or anything," said Harrison. "It was surprising but really exciting too."
Harrison's performance was much welcomed as she stepped up in the clutch while some of her other teammates made mistakes along the way. Her steady performance helped carry the Cats to the signature victory.
"Audrey doesn't have too many events that are just big and flashy," said Garrison. "She's getting pretty flashy on bars, which is great to see because she's had it in her and now it's finally coming out.
"She's just steady on the other events. She just goes out there and does her stuff. She's cute, she smiles, the crowd loves her, and we'll take it every time."
Kentucky did not set a record for its highest score Friday night. In fact, it was only their second-highest meet score of the season. But it was an important performance nonetheless. Garrison knows, however, that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"We could have done a lot of things better," said Garrison. "Are we happy? Yes. But as I keep saying, this team is better than we're performing right now. We have a ways to go, but I feel that we're going to get there."
Garrison has made sure to continue to hammer away the fact that his team just needs to worry about itself and everything else will fall into place. Despite some errors, UK was resilient and stuck to the game plan only to later make history once again.
"We don't set out to break those records," said Garrison. "We set out to do well and get better every week. That's what we're doing and I think the records are a product of that instead of the flipside."
With just a day between a women's basketball game and gymnastics' first home meet of 2013, Kentucky's event staff had little time to turn Memorial Coliseum from a basketball venue to one that would host Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic. Take a look at this video time lapse to see how they got it done.
Audrey Harrison looks to build on her strong start to the 2013 season. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Kentucky gymnasts are not worried about the past. Nor should they be. After two impressive performances to start the 2013 season, the future is looking mighty bright.
The No. 14-ranked UK gymnastics team is on a historic pace. Kentucky's season opening score of 195.125 at California-Berkeley was the highest season-opening score in program history. The Wildcats took down the No. 13 and No. 19 teams in the country that weekend.
Last weekend, Kentucky did something it had not done since 1999. Facing Southeastern Conference foe Auburn for the second consecutive weekend, UK ran its record to 2-0 against the Tigers for the season and picked up their first SEC road win since the 1999 season.
Just two meets in with their third slated for Friday night's Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic and Kentucky is already rewriting program record books.
The athletes are enjoying it every step of the way. Breaking records and snapping streaks are not what the Cats set out for, but when they do, they embrace their success. Typically, however, they simply just go out and take care of business. What happens as a result is all gravy.
"We don't really factor in the history," said junior Kayla Hartley. "Really, we just do what we do. If we keep doing that, we're going to keep breaking more records."
Hartley is one of four juniors, the veterans on a team with no competing seniors and 11 sophomores and freshmen. On the floor, she's been one of the shining stars of the first two meets. She earned a career-high in the floor exercise at Cal-Berkeley with a 9.9. She performed another career-high routine on the uneven bars with a 9.75.
As she and her teammates continue to put up career numbers, the confidence, in both themselves and in one another, continues to grow.
"It's really exciting," said Hartley. "For me personally, just knowing where that hard work is coming from and it's paying off. Just to see the other girls achieve their goals and to see all their hard work during the preseason and in summer and everything to come together has been great."
The career-high numbers were bound to come. Kentucky boasts a youthful team with little experience. Even the juniors, who have spent two seasons competing in college, are finally getting comfortable with performing at an SEC level.
While Kentucky has seen its ranking jump from preseason No. 25 up 11 spots to No. 14, there is still plenty of room for improvement. That may not have been the case for past UK gymnastics teams, but this one is shooting for the stars.
"Even though we've been doing so well, I feel like we can do much better than we have been doing," said junior Audrey Harrison. "I'm excited for the rest of the season because I think we'll get even higher scores at every meet."
Harrison has seen that happen so far in each of the first two meets, specifically at Auburn when she earned a 39.2 to win the all-around competition with a 9.775 on the uneven bars, 9.8 on both the vault and balance beam, and a 9.85 on floor exercise.
Last year, in head coach Tim Garrison's first season, the team didn't know what to expect as the athletes and coaches were still working to learn more about each other. Last season, Kentucky hoped to do well. This season, doing well is an expectation.
"We were expecting to do well or even better than what we did because we practice so hard," said Harrison. "We do a lot of pressure sets in the gym so we know we can hit, so we expect to hit at the meets."
Performing under pressure was particularly hard last season considering UK's youth. Still a young team this season, the Cats have much more experience under their belts.
That experience, particularly considering schedule that Kentucky faces going up against the elite teams the SEC has to offer, has helped UK become what it is today. While Garrison and his staff try their best to replicate the pressure and simulate a competitive atmosphere, nothing can match the experience gained by performing where the lights shine the brightest.
"It's the experience of competing in front of the crowds and the fans and all the nerves that come with competing," said Hartley. "We can simulate it in the gym, but once you get out on the main floor, it's still different. Also, experience with knowing that you can do it inside the practice gym and taking it out onto the competition floor as well."
The practice sessions have certainly helped though. Both Hartley and Harrison harped on the fact that this team came into the season more prepared than in any in the past. Summer and preseason workouts with purpose and precision have led to results. But it's also been the competitive nature of the workouts that have brought out the best in one another.
With the depth as great as it's been in the UK gymnastics program in some time, the competitive spirit shows up not only on the day of the meet, but also in the practice gym. With starting lineup spots up for grabs, everyone is giving their best efforts, and it's making the team that much better.
"The competition within each other is developing big time," said Hartley. "I've noticed it this year so much more than any year that I've been here. You can tell that people want the lineup spots this year and we're fighting for them."
As Kentucky continues to progress through the early stages of its 2013 schedule, it will need to continue to build on what they bring each week. Garrison has made it a point of emphasis for his team to be as consistent as possible to pick up some of the tenths of points he thinks his team is leaving out on the floor.
Kentucky has the chance to take down another ranked opponent Friday night when the Cats welcome SEC opponent and No. 9 ranked Arkansas to Lexington, Ky. In seasons past Hartley may have looked at Arkansas and been overwhelmed by her completion. These days the emphasis on Kentucky.
"I just take care of what I need to do," said Hartley. "I don't really pay attention to who I'm competing against. I just do what I need to do and do it for the team and hope for the best."
Kentucky continues to look ahead to where they can go without spending much time on what they've done in the past. Though the Cats need to understand the mistakes they've made in their first two meets, their main focus is on how to correct them in the future. With a great emphasis on consistency, the Wildcats feel like they still have room to grow.
"We just have to keep doing what we're doing and not give away any tenths by sticking landings and tight knees," said Harrison. "Just keep doing that and we'll get better every meet."
Josh: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I honestly teared up reading that. Kyle you are very special and have it in you to outplay anyone read more
Carl Marshall: Kyle, We want you to stay. We need you. Having said that, you have to do what you think is read more
Daria: You will dearly missed, Kyle and wish only the very best for you. Continue to Bleed Blue! read more
Troy Dishon: Why would you leave a top notch program?you were a four year player anyways,good luck wherever you may go but read more
Steve in Dayton UKFBFAN: As a teacher I ask my students, "If you are made of what you eat, would you rather be made read more
Steve in Dayton: Thank you, Neal. We all look forward to an exciting brand of football. If we can be exciting and competitive, read more
Ben: Good luck to Wiltjer! Looks like a great prospect with good genes. read more
Ben: Kentucky have struggled a bit this season and not made it easy for themselves. read more
Guy Ramsey: You are of course right. That should have said "Elite Eight" and has been changed accordingly. read more
BDWELLS: UK DIDN'T GO TO A FINAL FOUR IN 1992. read more