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Kentucky Sports Report (week of Jan. 23)

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Men's basketball
- The Wildcats pushed their winning streak to 11 games, posting a hard-fought 77-71 win over Alabama on Saturday.
- Kentucky had six players score in double-figures for the first time since the 2004-05 season, led by Terrence Jones' team-high 15 points. Doron Lamb (14), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (13), Anthony Davis (11), Darius Miller (11) and Marquis Teague (10) also scored in double-figures in the victory.
- The Wildcats hit a number of crucial free throws down the stretch against Alabama, going 8-for-8 from the line inside the final minute of play.
- UK's 11-game winning streak is the second longest by the Wildcats in the John Calipari era.

Women's basketball

- With wins over Georgia and Florida last week, Kentucky improved to 18-2 overall, 7-0 in the SEC which ties its best start in program history through the first 20 games. UK's best start to a season was in 1982-83 (21-2).
- Trailing by 10 (46-36) vs. UGA with 15:42 left in the game, UK went on a 24-7 run paced by 13 points from freshman guard Bria Goss, to capture its first win in Athens, Ga., since 2008. The rookie guard ended the game with a career-high 22 points, netting 17 of those in the decisive second half.
- Sophomore forward Samarie Walker gave the Cats a boost off the bench as she recorded a career-best 18 points and nine rebounds in just 20 minutes of play vs. UGA. Overall, UK's bench outscored Georgia's 34-0.
- On Sunday, it was another balanced effort as the Cats won their 16th consecutive home game with a 57-52 victory over the Gators. Ten players scored at least two points, paced by senior guard Keyla Snowden who led with 11.
- Sophomore guard Kastine Evans scored all 10 of her points in the second stanza, including eight of them in a key 17-2 second-half run. Goss pulled down a career-high nine rebounds, while Walker came off the bench for another solid performance, adding nine points, seven rebounds, a career-high tying three blocks and three steals.

Rifle
- The defending NCAA Champion Kentucky rifle team suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday at No. 1 TCU, 4703-4694, with TCU using a school-record team score to win its nation-leading 26th consecutive regular season match.
- UK lost its first match of the year, with the Wildcats only losing two regular-season matches in the last two years, both vs. TCU.
- UK fell behind in smallbore at TCU, before bouncing back to narrow the gap in air rifle behind starring performances from Ethan Settlemires (595), Henri Junghanel (594) and Emily Holsopple (592). Settlemires led UK in smallbore with a 583.

Gymnastics
- Behind a season-high team score on floor exercise where two Wildcats set or tied their career-high marks, the gymnastics team showed improvement from its first SEC meet of the year to its second meet of the year in a 196.275-194.075 loss to No. 8 Florida at Memorial Coliseum.
- Of UK's 24 routines in the meet, a total of 20 were performed by freshmen or sophomores. Overall, the youthful Wildcats showed improvement from last week, setting 10 season-high marks and setting or tying nine career-high scores on the night. Sophomore Audrey Harrison and freshman Alexis Gross were the lone two all-around competitors in the meet for Kentucky.
- UK saved its best event of the night for last, earning a season-high mark of 48.625 on floor. Harrison finished fourth overall on the event and led UK with a season-high and career-tying mark of 9.8, while Gross followed close behind with a 9.725. Freshman Kenzie Hedges set a career high with a 9.725, while sophomore Kayla Sienkowski went 9.7. Freshman Shelby Hilton made her second-consecutive floor lineup and went 9.675, while sophomore Kayla Hartley completed the UK rotation with a 9.375.

Men's tennis

- The No. 7 men's tennis team started its 2012 season off on the right note by earning a 6-1 win over No. 53 Michigan State and a 7-0 win over IUPUI to sweep a doubleheader at the Indianapolis Tennis Center in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon. The doubleheader was hosted by IUPUI. Kentucky played well in both matches, winning five of its six doubles matches and 11 of its 12 singles matches. It marked the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and either IUPUI or Michigan State.
- Senior co-captain Eric Quigley earned two singles wins in the opening day, moving him into sole possession of second place on UK's career singles wins list with 143 victories. The native of Pewee Valley, Ky., is now only one win shy of tying Paul Varga's school-record 144 career singles wins. Quigley is 143-44 all-time at Kentucky.
- Quigley, along with sophomores Grant Roberts and No. 111 Alejandro Gomez, went 2-0 in singles action, while junior No. 36 Anthony Rossi and sophomores No. 95 Tom Jomby, Ryuji Hirooka and Maks Gold went 1-0 in singles action. True freshman Brett Johnson, who was playing in his first collegiate match, won his lone singles match.

Women's tennis
- The women's tennis team is now 3-0 on the season after its opening weekend of regular season play.
- Jessica Stiles and Khristina Blajkevitch, the 34th-ranked doubles team, defeated Marshall's 35th-ranked doubles team of Dominika Zaprazna and Maria Voscekova, 9-8 (8) in the season opener.
- Freshmen Stephanie Fox and Edmee Morin- Kougoucheff put on strong performances in both singles and doubles play, ending the weekend undefeated.

Upcoming schedule

Tuesday, Jan. 24
Men's tennis hosts Indiana • 1:00 p.m.
Men's tennis hosts Eastern Kentucky • 7:00 p.m.
Men's basketball at Georgia • 9:00 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 26
Women's basketball at Auburn • 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 27
Men's tennis hosts NC State • Noon
Track and field hosts Rod McCravy Memorial

Saturday, Jan. 28
Swimming and diving hosts Cincinnati • 10:00 a.m.
Men's tennis hosts Tulsa/ETSU • 10 a.m./1:00 p.m.
Men's basketball at LSU • 4:00 p.m.
Gymnastics at Illinois-Chicago • 6:00 p.m.
Track and field hosts Rod McCravy Memorial

Sunday, Jan. 29
Women's basketball hosts Alabama • 2:00 p.m.

UK Rewind: Jan. 20

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Kentucky Sports Report (week of Jan. 16)

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Men's basketball

- The Wildcats return home for a pair of league games this week beginning with Arkansas on Tuesday night. UK just completed a two-game road stretch where they posted a 2-0 record, including a 65-62 win over Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday.

- Kentucky had to come from behind, trailing the Volunteers by as many as eight in the second half, but the Wildcats were up to the challenge, including freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who led UK with his third double-double this season. He finished with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

- Fellow freshman Anthony Davis was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after he finished with a game-high 18 points and added eight rebounds and four blocks, while Terrence Jones was the only other Wildcat in double-figures with 10 points.

 

Women's basketball

- Kentucky remains the only undefeated team in the SEC at 5-0 after two hard-fought wins over No. 6/7 Tennessee and No. 24/RV South Carolina last week. The Wildcats captured a one-point 61-60 victory over the Lady Vols on Thursday in Memorial Coliseum, snapping the Lady Vols' 36-game SEC winning streak.

- Junior guard A'dia Mathies turned in one of the most impressive individual performances in UK Hoops history in the win by netting a career-best 34 points to go along with nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. She hit the game winner with 4.2 seconds remaining to give UK its third win over top-10 team this season and first win over Tennessee in five tries. For her efforts she was tabbed the SEC Player of the Week.

- The Cats then defeated South Carolina on the road, 66-58, marking their first win in Columbia, S.C. since 2009. The balanced scoring effort was led by Keyla Snowden who came off the bench for 15 points and three steals. Ten of the 11 players who saw action scored at least two points.

 

Rifle

- Kentucky got strong outings from Emily Holsopple and Ethan Settlemires to lead the defending national champion Kentucky rifle team improved to 8-0 win a win at Army, 4693-4646, on Saturday at the Tronsure Rifle Range.

- Kentucky opened its spring portion of the schedule with the win at West Point, totaling a 2325 total smallbore score and a 2368 total air rifle team tally.

- Holsopple and Settlemires led UK in both guns, with the duo each charting a 585 in smallbore. Settlemires led UK in air rifle with a 594, with Holsopple adding a 593. Also in air rifle, Henri Junghänel finished with a 592, with Heather Greathouse recording a 592 and Stacy Wheatley posting a 589. Katie Fretts finished with a 585 in air rifle. Holsopple and Settlemires led UK with 585's, with Junghänel charting a 576, Greathouse a 579, Wheatley a 572 and Fretts a 569.

 

Gymnastics

- The No. 23 University of Kentucky gymnastics team concluded its first Southeastern Conference meet of the season by falling 196.650-191.975 to No. 11 Arkansas at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Ark.

- In all, Kentucky had 19 of 24 routines performed by freshmen and sophomores in the meet, while five Wildcats made their collegiate debuts on an event in the meet.

- Kentucky's youth shined on vault with freshman Kenzie Hedges leading the way with a 9.775, while sophomore Holly Cunningham was second on the team and tied a career high with a 9.75. Freshman Sara Shipley went second in the lineup and scored a 9.725, while sophomore Audrey Harrison went 9.7. Senior Storey Morris posted a 9.65 followed by freshman Shelby Hilton, who was making her collegiate debut, earning a 9.475. Kentucky scored a 48.6 as a team on the event.

 

Men's tennis

- The Kentucky men's tennis team completed a successful four-day run in the Southeastern Conference Coaches' Indoor Championships with junior Anthony Rossi claiming the singles title at the event. Rossi used a very workmanlike performance Monday to win the final over the No. 10 Sadio Doumbia.

- Rossi becomes the first Kentucky player to win the singles title in the annual event since Adam Malik did it back in 1989. The UK star is only the second player in school history to win the event.

- Kentucky had a good showing at the event overall with three singles players making the quarterfinals in Rossi, Eric Quigley and Tom Jomby. UK also had two doubles tandems in the quarterfinals, while sophomore Panav Jha and Quigley advanced to the doubles semifinals.

 

Track and field

- The Kentucky men's and women's track and field programs began their seasons Friday and Saturday by hosting the Kentucky Invitational at Nutter Field House.

- The Wildcats got strong performances from its men's one-milers, as junior Luis Orta ran a personal-best and SEC-leading time of 4:09.59 to finish in second. Sophomore Adam Kahleifeh finished fourth with a time of 4:12.20.

- Freshman Bradley Szypka finished second in the men's shot put with a throw of 16.28m/53-05.00, while junior Darryl Bradshaw finished third in the 60-meter hurdles finals with a time of 8.18.

- The Wildcats placed in the top three in six different events Saturday.

 

Swimming and diving

- The UK swimming and diving teams combined to go 2-2 over the weekend, with both teams dropping an SEC dual meet to Alabama on Saturday, but quickly rebounding to sweep Emory University on Sunday.

- On Sunday in the women's 100-butterfly, UK had a dominating performance taking first through fifth.

Julia Gerotto led the way, recording a time of 57.49, while Anna Mattox followed up with a 58.47 for second place. Lindsay Lash, Abby Myers, and Diana Norkus rounded out the top-five for Kentucky.

- Overall on the weekend, Kentucky won seven of the contested eight diving events. Sophomore Greg Ferrucci claimed first place in three of the four events he was entered in.

 

Women's tennis

- Women's tennis traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Rainbow Wahine Spring Invitational.

- The team swept Kansas in doubles play. The 34th-ranked duo of Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles took on the Kansas' 42nd-ranked doubles team of Monica Pezzotti and Paulina Los, defeating them 8-4.

- Freshman Stephanie Fox faced Washington State's 123rd-ranked Elizaveta Luzina and beat her in straight sets with a score of 6-1, 6-3.

 

Upcoming schedule

 

Tuesday, Jan. 17

Men's basketball hosts Arkansas - 9:00 p.m.

 

Thursday, Jan. 19

Women's basketball at Georgia - 7:00 p.m.

 

Friday, Jan. 20

Women's tennis hosts Marshall - Noon

Gymnastics hosts Florida - 7:00 p.m.

 

Saturday, Jan. 21

Men's basketball hosts Alabama - Noon

Rifle at TCU

 

Sunday, Jan. 22

Women's tennis hosts Belmont - 11:00 a.m.

Men's tennis vs. Michigan State - 2:00 p.m. (Indianapolis)

Women's basketball hosts Florida - 2:00 p.m.

Women's tennis hosts Morehead State - 6:00 p.m.

Men's tennis vs. IUPUI - TBA (Indianapolis)

Performances of the Week: Jan. 10

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Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 8:

Men's basketball: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis averaged a double-double for the third straight week, helping the Wildcats to a 2-0 record on the week including a win in the SEC opener over South Carolina ... Davis has tallied five-straight double-doubles and six in his last seven games ... He now has nine double-doubles on the season, tying him for fourth most by a UK freshman in school history ... He blocked 10 shots on the week and is on pace to destroy the UK single season blocks record by nearly 70 blocks ... Davis tallied a 20-10 game against Arkansas-Little Rock, his second 20-10 performance of the season ... He then just missed a triple-double in his first-career SEC outing, with a 12 point, 10 rebound, seven block effort against South Carolina

Swimming & diving: Greg Ferrucci

  • The Kentucky diving team competed in the Georgia Diving Invitational this week in Athens, Ga. UK was paced by sophomore Greg Ferrucci who posted a score of 412.20 in the three-meter competition. The score was good enough to land the defending Southeastern Conference Freshman Diver of the Year the overall champion in the event, taking home first place. John Fox placed eighth in the same competition, posting a score of 334.10.
  • The score of 412.20 on the three-meter dive set a new school record for Ferrucci, passing Ben Starchuk, who held the record since 2005 with a score of 406.43 on Feb. 5, 2005.

Gymnastics: Head coach Tim Garrison

In his first meet as the head coach of the UK gymnastics team, Tim Garrison led the Wildcats to a second-place finish at the Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic event at Memorial Coliseum. A total of 3,686 fans helped open the Tim Garrison Era at Memorial Coliseum with an energetic atmosphere.

Women's basketball: Bria Goss

  • Scored 11 points against Arkansas on a perfect 4-4 shooting from the field, including a career-high tying three 3-pointers, to go along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
  • Scored 13 points, including a career-high tying three 3-pointers for the second consecutive game, and had four rebounds and three steals vs Florida.
  • Shooting 6-7 from beyond the arc over the last two games.
  • Is 8-11 from the field over the last two games.
  • Third in scoring (12.0 ppg), tied for second in rebounding (4.5 rpg) and first in steals (2.5 spg) for the week.
  • Has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of 16 games for the Wildcats, including each of the last eight.
  • Has started in every game this season.
  • Has at least two steals in seven of UK's last eight games.
  • Leading freshman scorer in the SEC.

Men's basketball: Terrence Jones

Recovering from a dislocated pinkie Jones scored in double figures in back-to-back games helping Kentucky to a 2-0 mark on the week ... Shot better than 73 pct. from the field on the week, averaging15.0 ppg ... Shot over 88 pct. from the field in SEC-opening victory over South Carolina hitting eight of nine shots ... 20 points against South Carolina was most since tallying 26 against St. John's on Dec. 1

Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies

  • Scored a team-high 21 points vs. Arkansas, including a career-high five 3-pointers, a season-high six assists, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
  • Scored 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in 20 minutes vs. Mississippi State.
  • Scored 20 or more points in both games this week.
  • Hit three of Kentucky's program-record 14 3-pointers vs. Mississippi State.
  • Was 8-16 from beyond the arc in wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State.
  • Led UK in minutes played this week.
  • Has started in every game she has played this season.
  • Has reached double figures in scoring in 13 of 15 games she has played in.
  • No. 22 in scoring all-time at UK (1,166), and is just four points shy of tying Jocelyn Mills at No. 20.
  • No. 9 in steals all-time at UK (215), and is just nine steals shy of tying Sandy Harding at No. 8.

Gymnastics: Storey Morris

Gymnastics senior Storey Morris performed very well in her final season opener as a UK gymnasts, scoring a 9.7 or above on vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Morris started the night by sticking her landing on vault en route to a score of 9.8, while she secured a 9.7 posting on bars and led the Wildcats on beam with a score of 9.75.

Men's tennis: Eric Quigley

Kentucky men's tennis senior Eric Quigley went 2-0 in singles play at the Rainbow Warrior Challenge over the weekend, taking his career singles record to 139-43, sitting only two wins shy of tying Jesse Witten (2002-05) for second all-time in career singles wins.

Video: Gymnastics ready for Excite Night

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GarrisonMorris.jpeg Boasting a No. 23 ranking, the program's highest since 2007, Kentucky gymnastics opens its season on Saturday. The Wildcats will host Oklahoma, Bowling Green State and Wisconsin-Oshkosh at 6 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum for Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic.

UK will be led by head coach Tim Garrison, who is in his first season as head coach following a successful tenure as an assistant at Nebraska. Garrison will rely on a pair of senior co-captains in Storey Morris and Whitney Rose to anchor his first Kentucky team. The two have combined to win 21 individual event titles in their careers as Wildcats.

Garrison and the Wildcats won't have to wait long to be sternly tested this season, as the visiting Oklahoma Sooners are ranked in the top five in the preseason GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll.

Tickets to the event are available by calling the UK Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818 or toll free at 1-800-928-2287. Fans in attendance will have numerous chances to win prizes, including a family four pack of tickets to see Shrek the Musical on Feb. 19. Junior Wildcat Club members who show their badge will receive free admission to the event and a special gift. After the meet, the entire team will sign autographs.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EXCITE NIGHT

Kentucky Sports Report (week of Jan. 2)

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Men's basketball
- The Wildcats open the 2012 calendar year, playing their annual game at Freedom Hall Tuesday night, hosting the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans.
- UK closed out 2011 riding a career-game from freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, to a 69-62 win over in-state rival Louisville.
- Kidd-Gilchrist tallied his second-career double-double with 24 points and 19 rebounds, both career-highs and was named the Bluegrass Sports Commission MVP of the game for his efforts.
- Anthony Davis also tallied a double-double, his seventh, with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with six blocked shots.

Women's basketball

- Kentucky bounced back from a tough road loss at Middle Tennessee after the holiday break by capturing a hard-fought 59-56 win at Florida on Sunday in the SEC opener. It marked UK's first SEC-opening win since 2008 and its third-straight win over Florida.
- Junior guard A'dia Mathies, who scored a team-high 14 points, was crucial to the Wildcats' win over the Gators. With UK trailing by two in the first half, Mathies nailed back-to-back 3-pointers, grabbed a rebound and took a charge in the final 60 seconds to give Kentucky a four-point halftime lead, and the Cats would never trail again.
- Freshman guard Bria Goss also was a key catalyst as she scored 11 points all in the first half and added four rebounds and two steals. Goss has now scored in double figures in 12 of 14 career games, including six in a row.
- Sophomore Samarie Walker added eight points and seven rebounds in her first SEC contest.
- The Wildcats return to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Jan. 5 against Arkansas in the first of three consecutive SEC home games.

Upcoming schedule

Tuesday, Jan. 3
Men's basketball vs. Arkansas-Little Rock - 7:00 p.m. (Louisville, Ky.)
Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational

Wednesday, Jan. 4
Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational

Thursday, Jan. 5
Women's basketball hosts Arkansas - 6:00 p.m.
Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational

Friday, Jan. 6
Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational

Saturday, Jan. 7

Men's basketball hosts South Carolina - 4:00 p.m.
Gymnastics hosts Oklahoma/Wisconsin-Oshkosh/Bowling Green - 5:30 p.m.
Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational

Sunday, Jan. 8
Women's basketball hosts Mississippi State -3:30 p.m.
Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational

Gary Henderson is entering his fourth season as head coach of UK baseball. (UK Athletics) Gary Henderson is entering his fourth season as head coach of UK baseball. (UK Athletics)
I linked yesterday to Sean Cartell's piece with UK rifle head coach Harry Mullins, but that wasn't all Cartell did during his time in Lexington.

First, he sat down with UK baseball head coach Gary Henderson for a series of questions and answers. In it, Henderson talked about the fall, playing in the nation's toughest conference and some of his players' success in summer leagues. Make sure to read the full Q&A, but here are a couple highlights:

SEC Digital Network: What do you believe your strengths of your team this upcoming year?

Gary Henderson: "I think it's early, but I'm really hopeful that infield defense and depth on the mound are going to be some things that we can rely on. We're going to hit again, that part's pretty clear. We knew that coming in that we were going to have another good offensive club. How good, you don't know; just exactly how well balanced you're going to be, you don't know, because some of the younger guys have got to prove it first. We'll be another good offensive club, as are most clubs in our league and then it comes down to how well you play infield defense and how much pitching depth you have. It always comes down to that."

SEC Digital Network: What do you feel are the unique strengths of the University of Kentucky that benefit your baseball program?

Gary Henderson: "Kids love to go to school here. Lexington is a great town; we would argue that it's the best town in the league and there are some people that would agree with us. It's a great place to go to school. The academic experience that our kids have here on campus is second to none. We love the town. [Athletics director] Mitch's [Barnhart] commitment to an overall department is fantastic and there is a tremendous sense of community and a tremendous sense of being a Wildcat on campus."

Next up was an interview with brand new UK gymnastics head coach Tim Garrison. Garrison is coming off six successful seasons as an assistant at Nebraska and talked in the Q&A about adjusting to his new gig, his new team and his new surroundings. Here is an excerpt:

SEC Digital Network: How much does the support that you receive from your administration help your program moving forward?

Tim Garrison: "The support from our administration is unparalleled from what I've seen and from what I've heard from talking to other people. When you've got our athletic director and associate athletic directors coming into the gym to watch workouts, and come to our competitions, they are willing to give us everything we need to be successful and they've said that. The support is unreal."

SEC Digital Network: You still have a few months before your season begins in January, but how much excitement do you sense there is on your team for the start of competition?

Tim Garrison: "I don't think they know how excited they should be right now because they're in the grind, they're in the trenches of working hard. They're tired, they're sore and I think they've got a little bit of blinders on at this point because, right now, they're all those things and they don't see the product. They don't see the finish line just yet, which is great. The thing is, we're throwing curve balls at them all the time; they're going to be so ready for competition that I really think them understanding exactly where we're headed and what we're going to do is huge. When they get in a facility where there's 10,000 people watching and there's pressure and we're trying to qualify for something or beat a team that just opened the door for us, we're going to be able to do that. We're going to be able to walk right through that door."

Former UK gymnast Jenny Hansen is the only woman to win three straight NCAA all-around title (1993-95). She also captures NCAA titles on the balance beam (1994, 1995), vault (1994, 1995) and floor exercise (1995). (UK Athletics) Former UK gymnast Jenny Hansen is the only woman to win three straight NCAA all-around title (1993-95). She also captures NCAA titles on the balance beam (1994, 1995), vault (1994, 1995) and floor exercise (1995). (UK Athletics)
"Where are they now" is a weekly six-part summer series that will take a look back at the careers of former Kentucky athletes and find out what they're doing post-UK. Today we will catch up with record-setting gymnast Jenny Hansen.

To call Jenny Hansen's career as a gymnast at the University of Kentucky "decorated" would be a gross understatement. Running down a list of her achievements is mind-boggling in and of itself.

Eight NCAA gymnastics championship titles. A record three straight all-around titles from 1993 to 1995. Thirteen All-America honors. Kentucky Sportsman of the Year in 1995.  Most outstanding gymnast of the past 25 years as recognized by the NCAA.

Simply put, she's still the greatest gymnast in program history and one of the best student-athletes to don UK's colors.

For Hansen, though, the honors that meant the most were her inductions into the hall of fames for both UK and the state of Kentucky. Being recognized alongside fellow inductees like Pat Riley, Allan Houston, Tim Couch and Hillerich & Bradsby (the makers of Louisville Slugger baseball bats) was an experience that stopped Hansen in her tracks.

"It's kind of surreal," Hansen said. "I think of myself as Jenny Hansen. I'm Jen. I'm Hansen. I'm just me. I've been given this amazing gift and this incredible talent to be able to do what I can do. For the University of Kentucky and the state of Kentucky to recognize me and put me in their hall of fame, I was just blown away. There are no words really to explain it."

Humility and self-awareness are traits that we look for in athletes, but finding them in genuine form is often a tall task. With Hansen, they are unmistakable. She recognizes that the natural talent that she has been blessed with is a gift; a gift that has taken her places she could not possibly have foreseen; a gift that she believes she is responsible for stewarding and continuing to share with others.

It's that kind of attitude that has brought Hansen back to the place that made her a hall of famer: the gym. Her return started out as a foray into the world of television when a friend called her while Hansen was living and working in North Dakota.

"Two years ago, one of my best friends is a stunt woman, she called me up when I was living in North Dakota and she said, 'You need to train again, there's a show,' " Hansen said.

The cable television channel ABC Family was beginning filming on a new show that needed skilled gymnasts. Hansen picked up and moved to Simi Valley, Calif., for the new gig.

"I started training for this show called 'Make It or Break It,' " Hansen said. "It's an ABC Family show and it's about four girls that are trying to make the Olympics in gymnastics. They needed gymnasts and I ended up being a gymnastics double on the show and then I did background work and things like that."

Hansen had not seriously trained for a while, but the competitive fire that still burned inside of her responded in a way that she didn't foresee. She took her workouts "to the highest level" and found that her substantial talents had not yet been lost to the hands of time. Production on the second season of the show wrapped in December, but Hansen was not willing to end things there.

In fact, she has even higher aspirations. More than 15 years removed from her final season at UK, Hansen is trying to re-enter the elite level of gymnastics competition.

"That was for two years and at the end of December, we just finished up season two and during that time I guess I just started feeling like I wanted to continue on and keep working on it," Hansen said. "My ultimate goal would be to get to the Olympics but my current goal is just to try to get on the national team."

Of all sports, gymnastics is one that perhaps belongs most to the young. The roster of the United States national team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics included three 16-year-old gymnasts, one 18-year-old and two 20-year-olds. For perspective, Hansen was in college in the mid 1990s.

Hansen recognizes the challenge in front of her and embraces it. She is just a couple weeks away from the next milestone in her comeback. She will be participating in an elite qualifier on July 2 in Houston and there are two more meets on the horizon if things go according to plan.

"If I get the qualifying score, I'll get to go to the Cover Girl Classic and that's in Chicago," Hansen said. "In Chicago, hopefully I'll get the qualifying score to go to the Visa Championships in St. Paul (Minn.). This year that's my ultimate goal."

Hansen has learned the hard way that there is a reason why youth is favored in gymnastics, but the journey has been enjoyable nonetheless.

"There are a few little injuries that pop up, so I've had to back off my training a little bit, then I go back to it," Hansen said. "It's frustrating, but at the same time it's so much fun."

Naturally, Hansen is the type of athlete that will push herself to the brink in her preparation, even if the odds tell her that her chances of succeeding are extremely slim. Being more advanced in age than the last time she competed, Hansen has learned how to listen to what her own body is saying.

"It's taken a bit for me to listen to my body and what it needs," Hansen said. "I just can't stop and not work and everything is going to start piling up. It's my responsibility, as an adult, to keep myself afloat."

Also helping in her efforts is her sister, who serves as her coach for meets.

"I was talking to my middle sister who was on the national team in 1986 or 1987," Hansen said, "and I said, 'I don't know what to do. I don't have a coach and I have to go to this meet.' And she said, 'I'll be your coach.' She registered with USA Gymnastics. She got her coaching registration, she got all of this stuff and at the meets, she's my coach. It's really great."

While Hansen calls training her "full-time job," she still spends time as a personal trainer for a few clients and as a coach at her gym in California.

"I do a little personal training on the side, since out here you have to do everything," Hansen said. "I do a little personal training; I just have three clients. They're so much fun and I love working with them. I incorporate the gymnastics that I know and the things that I'm learning now. It's fun. I like encouraging these women. I also coach at the gym that I train at, only two days a week."

Once her gymnastics career reaches a conclusion, Hansen isn't willing to restrict herself to a single profession. Rest assured, though, she'll be using her talents and background as a gymnast, whether as a stunt woman, a trainer or a coach.

"That's my ultimate goal, to stay in the stunt world," Hansen said. "I would really like to do personal training and motivate people and maybe even motivate kids just to have fun in the sports that they do. There's so many things that I love doing and I want to stay in everything. I don't want to have just one occupation."

Whatever the future holds, much of Hansen's foundation was established during her time at the University of Kentucky. Though it was two decades ago, Hansen still looks back at her college experience fondly, from competition to academics to social life.

"An amazing experience," Hansen said. "I can't say enough about (then-UK head coach) Leah Little and (assistant coach) Tim Myers. I loved UK. I loved the college experience, I loved my roommates."

Hansen was especially full of praise for the athletic training staff during her time at UK, as well as her professors and classmates that she got to know as she worked toward her degree in animal science equine. Hansen had to cope with dyslexia as a student and said that without the support and tutoring at Kentucky's Center for Academic and Tutorial Services, her success in school would not have been possible.

"The CATS program was amazing," Hansen said. "Mike Haley, he was my adviser and he was the best. I would ask Mike what classes I should take and he was like, 'OK, Hansen, this is what you're going to do.' Being a student-athlete, you're so focused on (sports) that it was nice to have that CATS program to help you through so many difficulties, especially because I am dyslexic. That was a big help in my school."

Hansen has had the chance to briefly introduce herself to UK's newly-minted gymnastics head coach Tim Garrison and had a very positive impression about where he will take the program. She said that she was impressed by the work Garrison did with a gymnastics team in California close to Hansen's home.

"He was really great," Hansen said. "It's crazy that he's only the third coach at UK. I wish him success. I saw that he coached out here and he got a couple girls to nationals and things."

Little, Hansen's coach at UK, was largely responsible for the founding of the gymnastics program at the school. If there is one thing about Little that Hansen hopes Garrison can duplicate, it is the infusion of a spirit of fun into training and competition.

"I hope he keeps it fun for the girls," Hansen said. "That's what Leah was so wonderful at. She pushed us, but she let us enjoy our college experience. If we had problems, she would talk to us. There were times when I would just need a hug and she said OK and it was always such a heartfelt hug. She was right there with us. When we were crying, she would try to console us."

The semiannual Scratchies

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scratchies semiannual (2).jpg Move over Tonys. Take a backseat Oscars. The Scratchies (again, not a skin disease) are back.

I know it's been an unbearably long and grueling six-month wait since we introduced the Scratchies, but fear no more, it's time to introduce the 2011 spring semester winners.

Not to be confused with ESPN's Herbie Awards or UK's end-of-the-year CATSPY Awards - although I must confess, many award winners will repeat the CATSPYs - the Scratchies offer no actual hardware or glitzy awards show. Instead, these honorees have earned the appreciation of a lowly blogger trying to pass the beginning weeks of a long offseason.

A couple of the award names have changed, but the objective is the same - to look back at another semester of UK Athletics. Remember, these award winners only constitute the spring semester of UK Athletics action. The fall winners can be found here.

Please feel free to disagree and comment on who you think should have won in the comments section below. Keep in mind, this is all for fun.

Without further ado, here are the semiannual Scratchies:

MVW (Most Valuable Wildcat)
Brandon Knight, men's basketball - There were a lot of candidates for this semester's awards. There is Eric Quigley, who guided the men's tennis team to a national quarterfinals berth and finished the season ranked No. 7 in the nation. There is Megan Yocke, the heart and soul of the record-setting softball team. And let's not forget about Ethan Settlemires' clutch performance in the rifle national championship. But it's hard to ignore what Knight did in this year's NCAA Tournament. Knight's dramatic game winners against Princeton and Ohio State were the highlights of a Final Four run that fans will never forget. Stepping into the gargantuan shoes of John Wall and the sensational freshman class of 2009-10, Knight and the 2010-11 team proved it could play a little basketball as well. Next week, Knight is expected to be a top-five pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Honorable mention: Megan Yocke (softball), Eric Quigley (men's tennis), Ethan Settlemires (rifle), Victoria Dunlap (women's basketball)

The Dream Team (team of the semester)
Rifle - Much like the previous award, this could have gone to a number of squads, including the men's basketball, men's tennis and softball teams. But the rifle team won a national championship. You know, that ultimate goal that every team sets out for at the beginning of the year that only a select few ever win.  Ethan Settlemires didn't know it at the time, but his last shot in air rifle - the final shot of the match - would determine the national championship. Settlemires needed at least an 8.0 to capture the elusive title. The junior came through in the clutch with a 10.7, winning the program's first national championship.
Honorable mention: Men's basketball, men's tennis, softball

Harry Mullins has been the one constant staple in the success of the UK rifle program over the last three decades. (UK Athletics) Harry Mullins has been the one constant staple in the success of the UK rifle program over the last three decades. (UK Athletics)
The Adolph Rupp Award (coach of the semester)
Harry Mullins, rifle - As sweet as that rifle national championship was, it was even sweeter for Mullins, the longtime coach and most important figure in program history. Since 1982, Mullins and the UK rifle team have been one in the same. In his journey from a former student-athlete to a part-time coach to the symbol of the program, Mullins has taken the rifle team from its infant stages and built it into one of the nation's top programs. Year after year, Mullins and the rifle team came agonizingly close to winning the whole thing, only to fall short with seven top-three finishes. Whether it was by a string of fate or pure coincidence, Mullins finally won that coveted national title in the same town where his late father served as a sergeant in the military and raised his family.
Honorable mention: Rachel Lawson (softball), John Calipari (men's basketball), Dennis Emery (men's tennis)
 
The Josh Harrellson Award (most improved player)
Josh Harrellson, men's basketball - Harrellson's turnaround his senior year was so significant and so inspiring that we've renamed the award after him. Before this year, Harrellson had played a total of 403 minutes and scored 151 points for Kentucky. By the end of his senior year, Harrellson had transformed himself into the nation's most improved player and one of the best big men in the NCAA Tournament. Transforming his body and work ethic after the legendary tweet about his head coach, Harrellson went on to average 7.6 points and 8.7 rebounds this year, including an 11.0 scoring average in the NCAA Tournament against some of the nation's top post players. Harrellson's spirit and leadership were just as valuable to the team's Final Four run as his presence in the paint and unpredictable production. Harrellson's storybook season will be remembered decades from now.
Honorable mention: Alex Musialek (men's tennis), Meagan Aull (softball), Samantha DeMartine (softball)

The Butler-VCU Award (surprise team)
Women's golf - In her first year as head coach, Golda Johansson Borst wasn't expected to do much with the Kentucky women's golf team. After all, the program had been to just one NCAA Tournament since 2000. But with just one senior on the team and a wealth of midseason injuries, including two to the top two players, Ashleigh Albrecht and Betsie Johnson, UK returned to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in school history. With most of the team returning next year, the future is bright for women's golf.
Honorable mention: softball

One Shining Moment (best moment)
Annie Rowlands and Meagan Aull's hits send softball to Supers - The Kentucky softball team went to its third straight regional appearance with bigger expectations and higher hopes. The coaches and players talked about making it to their first Super Regional in program history, but as the third-ranked team in the Ann Arbor Regional and with the second-ranked team in the nation in the same regional, the reality of advancing was pretty slim. And yet, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, with one win over No. 2 Michigan standing in the way of a historic march, Kentucky entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 1-0. With Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Jordan Taylor dealing a gem and the nation watching on ESPN, Meagan Aull belted a changeup over the fence in right field to tie the game. Five batters later, with one out and the bases loaded, senior Annie Rowlands, a sub-.150 hitter, came through with the biggest hit in program history, a game-winning single over the first baseman's head. The RBI bloop advanced UK to its first Super Regional, which the school would go on to host.
Honorable mention: Brandon Knight's game-winning layup vs. Princeton; Knight's game-winning shot vs. Ohio State; Ethan Settlemires' winning shot to capture the national championship; Alex Musialek's match-clinching win vs. Louisville; gymnast Andre Mitchell's 39.550 score in the all-around, UK's highest score in 15 years

The "Band is Out On the Field" Award (best game/match)
Men's tennis vs. Louisville in the NCAA Tournament - What happens when you combine your archrival with postseason play? You get some edge-of-your-seat theater. That's what the Kentucky-Louisville men's tennis match brought in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. After UK grabbed the doubles point, the singles matches went back and forth in front of a raucous crowd at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. Every 10 minutes it looked like the match was going to go a different way. With Kentucky holding a 3-2 lead and courts No. 1 and No. 2 split in a 1-1 tie, everyone raced to the center courts to watch the decisive matches. Eric Quigley, UK's top player, dropped his match in three thrilling sets to tie the match 3-3. Moments later, though, after dropping the first set 5-7, Alex Musialek won the third set in dominating fashion, 6-0, to clinch the match and send UK to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.
Honorable mention: softball's win over Michigan in the regional finals; men's basketball's upset of No. 1 Ohio State

Brandon Knight hit a game-winning jumper over Ohio State's Aaron Craft with seconds remaining to send UK to the Elite Eight and eventually its first Final Four since 1998. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics) Brandon Knight hit a game-winning jumper over Ohio State's Aaron Craft with seconds remaining to send UK to the Elite Eight and eventually its first Final Four since 1998. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Doug Flutie Hail Mary Award (best play)
Brandon Knight's game-winning jumper vs. Ohio State - Once again, there was plenty to choose from, but Knight gets the nod on this one given the magnitude of the situation. Against the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and with the game tied 60-60, Knight pulled up from just inside the arc and drilled a jumper with five seconds left to send Kentucky to the Elite Eight and eventually the Final Four. For a team that failed to close during the regular season, it was an unforgettable moment in an unbelievable season.
Honorable mention: Brandon Knight's game-winning layup vs. Princeton; Ethan Settlemires' winning shot to capture the national championship; Brittany Henderson's game-winning layup vs. LSU

The Jimmer Fredette Award (breakthrough player)
Alex Meyer, baseball - Alex Meyer's first two years in the at UK were defined by potential and upside. In 2011, Meyer broke through with the type of year that everyone expected years earlier when Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein showed up on his doorstep at the end of Meyer's high school career with a lucrative multi-million dollar contract. Meyer, with big-league stuff, finished the year as the Southeastern Conference leader in strikeouts, complete games and complete-game shutouts. Two weeks ago, Meyer was selected by the Washington Nationals with the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, UK's highest draft pick since Joe Blanton went No. 24 in 2002.
Honorable mention: Meagan Aull (softball), Greg Ferrucci (swimming and diving)

All-Calipari Team (all-freshman team)
Greg Ferrucci, swimming and diving - Named SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year and advanced to the NCAA Championships
Terrence Jones, men's basketball - Tabbed SEC Freshmanof the Year after averaging 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first year
Doron Lamb, men's basketball - Not to be overshadowed by Knight and Jones, Lamb averaged 12.3 points, hit a team-high 38 3-pointers and poured in a then-freshman record 32 points in December
Emily Holsopple, rifle - Appeared on the fall semester's list, but she certainly qualifies again after earning first-team All-America accolades and winning a national championship
Bernisha Pinkett, women's basketball - On a team with talented freshmen, averaged 7.0 points in just 18.7 minutes of action    

All-Up-and-Comers (non-freshmen on the rise)
Jessica Stiles, women's tennis - Led a rebuilding women's tennis program with 11 wins  
Darius Miller, men's basketball - Came on late in the season to win SEC Tournament MVP
Chanda Bell, softball - UK's all-time strikeout leader will enter her senior season as one of the top pitchers in the nation
Thomas McCarthy, baseball - Ranked third in the SEC with .371 batting average, including 19 doubles and 39 RBI
Brittany Cervantes, softball - UK's career home-run leader will be the centerpiece of next year's offense
  
All-Wildcat Team (the Scratchies equivalent of the All-America Team)
Brandon Knight, men's basketball - Replaced No. 1 overall pick John Wall by averaging 17.3 points and leading UK to the Final Four, plus first-team Freshman All-America honors
Victoria Dunlap, women's basketball - Program's No. 2 all-time scorer led the team to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and became the highest WNBA draft pick in school history
Eric Quigley, men's tennis - The nation's No. 7 player finished the year with a school-record-tying 45 wins
Megan Yocke, softball - Heart and soul of record-setting softball team became just the second player in school history to earn All-SEC accolades all four years
Colin Boevers, track and field - Won the SEC discus title and was one of nine student-athletes to advance to NCAA Outdoor Championships

All-Rex Ryan Team (when you need a sound bite, these are your go-to guys)
Josh Harrellson, men's basketball
John Calipari, men's basketball
Matthew Mitchell, women's basketball
Harry Mullins, rifle
Amber Smith, women's basketball

Stacey Eden of the UK track and field team (second from the left) confessed that he's owned the jacket he wore to the 2011 CATSPY Awards since middle school. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics) Stacey Eden of the UK track and field team (second from the left) confessed that he's owned the jacket he wore to the 2011 CATSPY Awards since middle school. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Craig Sager Award (best/worst dressed)
Stacey Eden, track and field - Depending on your taste in style, Stacey Eden of the track and field team was either the best dressed of the year or the worst. One thing is for certain: he caught people's eyes at this year CATSPY Awards. Eden (pictured to the right) attended the annual end-of-the-year awards show with a shiny gold suit, a patterned button-up, blue bowtie and sunglasses. Top that, Craig Sager

The Streak (strangest stat or streak)
Men's basketball in the clutch - Before the NCAA Tournament, the Cats couldn't hit a shot to save their lives. UK entered the tournament 1-6 in games decided by five points or less, which included missed last-second shots that could have won or tied the game against Florida, Arkansas and Ole Miss. But when the season was on the line and the stakes mattered most, Kentucky - particularly Knight - came through with game-winning shots against Princeton and Ohio State.

She said what? (quote of the semester)
Rachel Lawson, fighting back tears after losing to Cal in the Lexington Super Regional - "I feel really good about the future of the program. But I feel best about the fact that this group was - nobody thought they could win. I love (Samantha) DeMartine and (Meagan) Aull, (Megan) Yocke's OK. I know (Annie) Rowlands, for her to be able to come up with that big hit. I wanted them to go to the World Series. So far I'm the only one who's been there and I'm tired of having the upper hand on them."

The Best Dougie (best dance/celebration)
Jarrod Polson, men's basketball - In 2009-10, the John Wall Dance was the unofficial celebration of the Wildcats. This past year it was, without question, The Dougie, a dance made famous (or infamous) by Matthew Mitchell at Big Blue Madness. Jarrod Polson continued the craze on national TV after Kentucky defeated North Carolina and advanced to the Final Four. Check out his rendition below.

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  • John Lee: On the article, it says "early in the fourth quarter," but it should be 'first' instead..because we only trailed early read more
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