Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Nov. 13:
Volleyball: Whitney Billings
Sophomore Whitney Billings had another electrifying weekend for the Wildcats as she guided UK to a pair of tough road victories this week. Billings totaled back-to-back double-double efforts for just the second time this season. She led the squad with 28 kills on the week and an astounding .377 hitting percentage. Her 17 kills in the victory over Ole Miss marked a season-high. With two matches with an above .300 hitting clip, Billings has now notched eight matches this season against league foes with an above .300 percentage. Her all-around performance continues to be UK's "X-factor" as it peaks towards the end of the season. The sophomore averaged 3.25 digs per set and had nearly a block per frame as well. Her 4.12 points per stanza paced the squad, well above her 2.97 season average.
Men's basketball: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis tallied a double-double in his first career outing He tallied 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, of which eight of those field goals were dunks ... Davis because the second UK freshman (Terrence Jones) in as many years to post a double-double in his first career outing ... He also added five blocks and three assists to his stat line.
Women's basketball: Kastine Evans
Sophomore Kastine Evans came off the bench to crush her previous career high (11 points) with a game-best 23 points in 25 minutes during UK's season-opening win at Morehead State
Hit 8-of-12 from the field, including a career-high tying two 3-point field goals
Found a way to get to the free-throw line a team-high six times, make five free throws
Also charted two steals, three rebounds and an assist in the balanced effort
Rifle: Henri Junghänel
Henri Junghänel led UK to wins over Ohio State and Murray State in a dual-match on Saturday, leading the team in both guns.
Junghänel posted a 593 in air rifle and a 585 in smallbore to pace the Wildcats. A redshirt junior, he entered the match leading the team in smallbore average and ranking third in air rifle average.
Volleyball: Stephanie Klefot
Junior Stephanie Klefot provides the Wildcat defensive unit with a consistency that is unmatched in the league. Klefot registered 17 digs in a three-set victory over Alabama and also provided the UK offensive effort with a career-high seven assists. She then turned around and matched a season-high with 28 assists in the victory at Ole Miss. She also added her first kill of the season and recorded a pair of aces to open up the scoring in the decisive fifth frame. With 45 digs this weekend, Klefot has now accumulated 494 for the season which is the eighth most in a single-season in UK history. Her 28-dig performance against the Rebels marked the 20th time in her career she had topped 20 or more scoops in a match. She has recorded 10 or more digs in all but one match this season, including a span of 18 consecutive which she is currently holding.
Football: Nick Melillo
Had a career game against Vanderbilt, earning his first career touchdown reception and posting a career high in receptions and receiving yards.
Finished the game with four catches for 59 yards, including two reception of 20-yards or more. Melillo's touchdown catch was a 22-yarder, while his longest of the game was a 25-yard reception.
UK fan Andy Burklow sends this picture of a Wildcat-inspired pumpkin he and his two children carved for Halloween.
Happy Halloween everybody! I hope everyone enjoys the festivities tonight on this last day of October (that's hard to believe, isn't it?), but I feel more like talking about a big 5-1 weekend in UK Athletics.
If you missed it Sunday afternoon, the Kentucky volleyball team picked up a huge upset win over No. 13 Florida in an exciting five-set match. I wrote a column yesterday evening about the victory, which keeps UK right in the thick of a close Southeastern Conference race, and below is a video with highlights from the match and some comments from Craig Skinner.
Volleyball wasn't the only UK team to pick up a win over a top-15 opponent on Sunday. On Senior Day, men's soccer got two goals in the first eight minutes from seniors C.J. Tappel and Josh Mulvany en route to a 2-0 victory in the Cats' last home match of the season. UK had to play the final 62 minutes of the game a man down, but the UK defense withstood No. 15 SMU. Here is what Ian Collins had to say about his team's effort.
If you were worried about UK rifle resting on their laurels after a national championship last season, you can forget about that. The Cats are off to a perfect 3-0 start to the season, with each win coming against foes from the Great American Rifle Conference. Their latest victory was at home over Memphis on Sunday, with UK posting a new school and NCAA-record team score of 4711. UK's previous record of 4700 was set during the NCAA Tournament run a season ago. Sophomore Emily Holsopple also set a school record with a nearly perfect score of 597 in air rifle. The Wildcats were ranked No. 2 in the nation coming into the weekend, but Sunday's performance vaulted them ahead of West Virginia and into the top spot in the latest rankings released on Monday.
Men's basketball is preparing for the first of two exhibition games on Wednesday against Transylvania and John Calipari is having his team scrimmage more and more. Calipari has seven players he views as capable of starting (Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis) and has taken to putting two of those seven on a team together against the other five as a means to challenge them. That's what he did on Sunday with Jones and Kidd-Gilchrist. The pair responded and actually won. Eric Lindsey of CoachCal.com has a report from the practice I encourage you to check out if you haven't already.
Media day for UK Hoops is nearly upon us. Matthew Mitchell and members of the UK women's basketball team will be available for interviews on Tuesday. We'll have features, video and notes beginning tomorrow afternoon.
Rifle head coach Harry Mullins talks to Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. (UK Athletics)
Sean Cartell of the SEC Digital Network, a University of Kentucky alumnus, was in Lexington last week to take in Big Blue Madness. While he was here, he spent some time around Harry Mullins, the head coach of UK rifle, the reigning NCAA championship program. Cartell interviewed Mullins and spent some time on the range learning how to shoot.
At this link, Cartell has a first person account of experience on the range and a question and answer with Mullins that addresses winning the school's first national title, some of the basics of rifle and how the sport has developed at UK over the years.
It's back to business for Mullins as his team begins pursuit of its second consecutive national title. His teams have always been in relentless pursuit of improvement and, just because the Wildcats now have an NCAA Title to their credit, this year will be no different.
"I have tasked this team right out of the gates," Mullins said. "If they want to be the NCAA Champions, then they have to win in 2011-12."
Knowing what I know about Mullins, he will have his team ready. They will spend their afternoons perfecting their performances, but more than that, they will spend their college experiences learning how to be successful in life.
Having spent just an hour on the range last Friday, it will nonetheless go down as one of the most memorable experiences I have had during my time in college athletics. The fact that the coaching staff of the national champion Wildcats spent their time helping me understand their sport and letting me try it myself, speaks to the experience that Mullins has created for countless student athletes over the years.
Though Kentucky has just recently claimed the NCAA Championship, Mullins has been creating champions in life for more than 25 years. Sometimes people are lucky enough to find their true calling and where they can do the most good for others.
UK rifle head coach Harry Mullins has been busy this summer, preparing for the 2011-12 season. After claiming the program's first NCAA Title last season, Mullins and assistant coach Stacy Underwood have been working diligently to ensure that the program remains among the nation's elite. Cat Scratches visited with Mullins on Wednesday afternoon in his office.
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)
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)
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)
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.
Rifle - Behind gritty performances from veterans Heather Greathouse and Ethan Settlemires, the Kentucky rifle team won the overall national title at the 2010-11 NCAA Championships. After UK won the smallbore NCAA Title on Friday in the first day of competition, the Wildcats held off West Virginia's charge in air rifle on Saturday to secure the first national championship in program history, finishing with a 4700 team total score. - Kentucky entered the final day of competition on Saturday owning a seven-point lead. UK claimed its first-ever NCAA Championship in smallbore on Friday, totaling a 2336 team score, led by Settlemires and Greathouse. Settlemires won the NCAA individual championship on Friday with a 590 in smallbore, becoming the first individual NCAA Champion in smallbore in program history.
Men's basketball - Kentucky won its league-leading 27th SEC Tournament championship, defeating Florida 70-54 in the championship game. Darius Miller was named the tournament MVP and the Wildcats placed Miller, Josh Harrellson and Brandon Knight on the SEC All-Tournament team. - UK will be making its NCAA record 51st appearance in the NCAA Tournament, taking on Princeton in the second round of the tournament in Tampa, Fla.
Women's basketball - The No. 17/16 Kentucky women's basketball team earned its eighth bid to the NCAA Tournament with a No. 4 seed in the Spokane Regional. UK will play 13th-seeded Hampton on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Albuquerque, N.M. - It is the eighth overall NCAA Tournament berth for the Cats and their first back-to-back appearances since the 1982-83 seasons. UK is 7-7 all-time in the Big Dance, including a 3-1 mark under Matthew Mitchell.
Softball - Behind a pair of comeback victories, the 23rd-ranked softball team defeated No. 7 Tennessee in two out of three games to capture the series to begin SEC play. It marked the first time since 2000 UK had won the series with its border-state rival. - Senior Megan Yocke batted .556 on the weekend, which included a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings in the rubber match between the two teams. She was then intentionally walked in the bottom of the 10th to set the stage for Kara Dill's walk-off RBI-single.
Baseball - The Wildcats posted four wins on the week, totaling a staggering 1.40 ERA as a team in 45 innings pitched, walking just 13 and striking out 45. UK got stellar starting pitching during the week, including quality starts from four of five starters a complete-game shutout from junior Alex Meyer on Saturday. - Kentucky has been a well-rounded team, totaling a .295 batting average and a 3.51 team ERA, fielding at a .978 clip. The Wildcats have been led by center fielder Brian Adams, who has hit .368 with five doubles and five RBI.
Gymnastics - The gymnastics team scored three wins over the weekend, defeating William and Mary on Friday and North Carolina and George Washington on Sunday. Kentucky was led in both meets by senior Phylicia Reshard, who won the all-around against William and Mary and finished second in the all-around in Sunday's quad-meet. - The Wildcats defeated William and Mary on each event, with junior Storey Morris winning the uneven bars title, Reshard winning the vault title, seniors Jasmine Minion, Andrea Mitchell and Reshard winning on floor, and Mitchell grabbing event honors on beam.
Men's tennis - The Wildcats were led by impressive play in doubles, taking the doubles point from both Tennessee and Georgia. Against Tennessee, Kentucky got upset wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles with senior Alberto Gonzalez and freshman Tom Jomby taking down the 55th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation, while junior Alex Musialek and sophomore Anthony Rossi defeated the 52nd-ranked team. UK was equally impressive against Georgia in doubles with junior Eric Quigley and senior Brad Cox knocking off the sixth-ranked doubles team in the nation and Gonzalez and Jomby posting a win over the 36th-ranked doubles team. UK dropped the overall matches to nationally ranked Tennessee and Georgia. - In singles, Musialek led the UK charge with a convincing win over No. 24 Javier Garrapiz, while Rossi and Jomby also posted singles wins.
Swimming and diving - Freshman diver Greg Ferrucci and senior diver Lisa Faulkner earned spots in the men's and women's NCAA swimming and diving championships, respectively, thanks to their performances in the Zone C Diving Championships. - Ferrucci recorded a score of 339.60 in the preliminaries and finished with a mark of 716.35 in the finals to finish in second place on the men's one-meter and earn his spot in the NCAAs. Faulkner earned a score of 296.35 in the women's one-meter preliminaries and finished with a score of 581.15 in the finals to finish in fifth place and earn a spot in the NCAA championships.
Track and field - Kentucky track and field junior Keith Hayes capped off an incredible three-week run leading up to the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships with a seventh-place finish in the finals of the 60-meter hurdles, grabbing two points for the Wildcats. - Hayes earned his first All-America honor for his top-eight performance in the finals Saturday.
Men's golf - Behind impressive final rounds from sophomore Chase Parker and freshman Cody Martin, the UK men's golf team moved up four spots on the leaderboard to finish 13th in the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate. Martin (80-70-69-219) and Parker (78-72-70-220) led the Wildcats, posting solid scores on the final day to earn a top-25 finish. - Martin carded the lowest UK round of the day Tuesday, earning a 1-under-par 69 to move 36 spots up the leaderboard. He finished the tournament in a tie for 21st, totaling a 9-over-par 219 after a 10-ove-par 80 in the opening round and an even-par 70 in the second round.
Women's golf - The Cats competed in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic and finished in 18th place with a final score of 95-over-par 959. - Sophomore Heather Lott led the Wildcats with a final score of 12-over par to finish the tournament in a tie for 31st among the 111 competing golfers.
Women's tennis - The Cats dropped a pair of SEC road matches over the weekend to Tennessee and Georgia. The Wildcats fell 6-1 in each match. - Freshman Khristina Blajkevitch won a thrilling victory over UT's Kata Szekely 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (12-10). Senior Megan Broderick topped Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia after the 48th-ranked player had to retire.
Tuesday, March 15 Baseball hosts Murray State - 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 16 Softball at Arkansas (DH) - 5 p.m. Women's tennis at Baylor • 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 17 Men's tennis hosts Notre Dame - 1 p.m. Women's tennis at TCU - 2 p.m. Men's basketball vs. Princeton - 2:45 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Men's tennis hosts Butler - 7 p.m. Women's swimming and diving at NCAA Championships (Austin, Texas)
Friday, March 18 Baseball hosts Tennessee - 6:30 p.m. Softball at LSU - 7 p.m. Women's swimming and diving at NCAA Championships (Austin, Texas) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
Saturday, March 19 Women's tennis at Texas Tech - 10 a.m. Baseball hosts Tennessee - 1 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Alabama - 1 p.m. Softball at LSU - 4 p.m. Women's basketball vs. Hampton - 6:30 p.m. (Albuquerque, N.M.) Men's basketball vs. West Virginia/Clemson/UAB - TBA (Tampa, Fla.) Gymnastics at SEC Championships (Birmingham, Ala.) Women's swimming and diving at NCAA Championships (Austin, Texas) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
Sunday, March 20 Baseball hosts Tennessee - 1 p.m. Softball at LSU - 2 p.m. Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
In his 26-year tenure as head coach of Kentucky's rifle team, Harry Mullins has accomplished a great deal. The program produced All-Americans and Olympians. His teams won conference championships and perennially contended on a national level.
With four second-place national finishes and four third-place finishes, saying that his tenure had been successful would have been an understatement, but something was missing.
At the 2010-11 NCAA Championships in Fort Benning, Ga., the Kentucky Wildcats gave Mullins that title he had been seeking for so long.
"To be able to explain it is kind of tough," Mullins said of UK's national championship, the first in school history. "We've put ourselves, the last few years, in contention to win national championships and fallen short. For this group to be able to achieve that, it's hard to find words to try to explain how that feels, just the pride in them."
The Wildcats delivered that national title in grand fashion. Their overall team score of 4700 is the highest ever recorded in the NCAA Championships. In the air rifle portion of the competition on day two, the Wildcats held off the top-ranked and hard-charging West Virginia Mountaineers.
UK was headlined by smallbore national champion Ethan Settlemires, whose score of 590 also set a NCAA Championships record, but it was a true team effort that brought the crown to Lexington.
"We don't dwell on the numbers as much as the performance," Mullins said. "That's why I'm so proud of the group. They really believe in themselves. It's about having that trust that, if I'm putting myself out there and giving 110 percent, we will be successful."
Mullins views the championship as a culmination of the efforts of all of the people involved in the program over the past quarter century. The program has come a long way in that time, but one tipping point came when Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart arrived at UK in 2002.
Upon Barnhart's arrival, Mullins' duties as head coach were only part time. Mullins worked as a bartender to supplement his income, but Barnhart quickly realized what Mullins was building and made a full-time commitment to him and the program.
There was never any doubt about whether the commitment to Mullins and UK rifle was worthwhile, but winning a national title is a testament to just what it has meant.
"If Mitch had been there, I would have given him a great big hug," Mullins said. "Mitch and (UK President) Dr. (Lee) Todd and the administration on both sides, as far as academics and athletics, does nothing but give great support to all the sports, but especially to us."
That support has helped the Wildcats build an unprecedented following. In the final moments of the competition, Mullins said he was forced to put his cell phone out of reach because of the constant stream of texts, calls and tweets from all around.
If you were on Twitter at all today, you likely saw evidence of that outpouring of support, which was particularly clear immediately after the Wildcats won the title. Barnhart, John Calipari, Matthew Mitchell and countless other UK coaches and athletes offered congratulations. The meaning of those gestures is not lost on Mullins.
"It means so much to the kids," Mullins said. "There are people out there that care just as much about what we're doing as we do. That's a great feeling to have."
While so much of Mullins' satisfaction comes from seeing his athletes perform in the way that they did, this championship is very meaningful to him personally.
His father, Alger, was Kentucky through and through before passing away six years ago.
"He was a Kentucky boy," Mullins said of his father.
Alger Mullins shared with his son a great love of rifle and had a chance to see him build a program at the university they both loved.
"He was always proud when we would finish in the top four or five," Mullins said. "He understood the competitiveness of it and the effort, drive and dedication you have to have."
The site of the NCAA Championships was meaningful as well for Mullins. Alger Mullins was a sergeant in the military and eventually settled with his family in Fort Benning, Ga., where Mullins competed in rifle for the prestigious Fort Benning Junior Club.
"There was a little soft spot in my heart with being able to win a national championship where I got started," Mullins said.
Mullins hopes that a national championship tradition at UK will eventually be able to trace its roots back to the area.
"Hopefully we'll be able to continue that streak of starting things in Fort Benning," Mullins said, ever mindful of continuing to build the program he has led for so long.
Men's basketball - UK extended its home winning streak to 33 games, which is the second-longest streak in the country. The 33-game winning streak is tied for the longest streak in Rupp Arena history and the third-longest streak in program history. John Calipari is 32-0 at Rupp Arena as Kentucky's head coach. - Over the last four games Darius Miller is averaging 18 points and 5.5 rebounds. He's made 25-of-47 shots for 53.2 percent, including 12-of-24 3-pointers. He's also blocked 10 shots. - Kentucky will celebrate Senior Night on Tuesday, hosting Vanderbilt. The Wildcats are 84-6 all-time on Senior Night.
Women's basketball - Senior Victoria Dunlap recorded a team-high 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in a 76-62 win over Auburn in the final game of the regular season. UK improved to 22-7 overall, 11-5 in league play, which tied the school record for SEC wins set last season and tied the school mark for SEC road wins (five) set in 2005-06. - UK has earned a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament for the second consecutive season and is preparing to square off with the winner of LSU (No. 7 seed) and Alabama (No. 10 seed) in the quarterfinals.
Softball - Kentucky went 3-1 at the Stanford Nike Invitational behind the play of Megan Yocke. Yocke batted .615 in front of her hometown and charted two hits in every game. - Junior pitcher Chanda Bell tossed the second no-hitter of her career in a 7-0 win over Colorado State. The history didn't stop there as Bell also topped her own single-game record with 16 strikeouts, besting her previous high of 15. Additionally, she became the school's all-time career leader in strikeouts thrown, passing Keary Camunas for first on the list. - Kentucky has matched its best start in program history winning 11 of its first 14 games.
Baseball - Kentucky rebounded from three losses during the season-opening weekend by winning four of five games last week, including picking up a series win over the University of Illinois Chicago over the weekend. - UK has posted a .307 team batting average through its eight games in 2011 totaling five homers and 45 RBI. On the mound as a team, UK owns a 3.99 ERA with a pair of saves and 65 strikeouts in 70 innings. - Individually, catcher Luke Maile leads UK at the plate with a .419 average with four doubles and five RBI. Shortstop Taylor Black, named this week's SEC Player of the Week, is coming off a monster week that saw him total nine RBI and a .529 batting average. On the mound, UK junior Alex Meyer has posted a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA through his first two starts in 2011. Meyer has struck out 20 in 12 innings, allowing only six hits and a .158 opposing batting average.
Gymnastics - UK defeated LSU on Friday with a season-high score of 195.575. UK has now defeated the Tigers for the second consecutive season after posting its first win over LSU in 31 tries last year in the Lady Luck Invitational in Las Vegas. Kentucky has now posted back-to-back wins over an SEC opponent for the first time since defeating Auburn in 2005 and 2006. The victory in a SEC dual meet is the first for the Kentucky program since it took down Auburn on Jan. 12, 2008. - Kentucky finished third at the event, defeating Bowling Green 194.65-189.45, while No. 7 Nebraska won the four-team meet with a 196.5 and No. 15 Iowa finished second with a 195.5. Seniors Andrea Mitchell and Phylicia Reshard finished second and third in the all-around competition, respectively, with Mitchell earning a 39.25 and Reshard a 39.075. - The meet wraps up a stretch of four meets in 10 days for UK, with Kentucky showing major improvements during the difficult stretch. The Wildcats faced five top-25 teams the last two weeks, defeating No. 20 LSU with its season-best score of 195.575. Kentucky also scored a 195.05 at then-No. 14 Ohio State and finished off the 10-day stretch with a solid-road score of 194.65 Sunday at the Masters Classic. UK's best improvement throughout the last two weeks came on beam, where Kentucky improved its season-high mark from 48.375 to 48.7.
Rifle - Despite getting strong performances on Sunday from newcomers Emily Holsopple and Henri Junghänel in air rifle, the Kentucky rifle team posted a 4672 total team score to finish second at the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference Championships. - Holsopple and Junghänel led UK in air rifle, with both newcomers totaling a 591. Ethan Settlemires finished with a 588, while Megan English had a 590 and Heather Greathouse - who led UK in smallbore on Saturday - totaled a 578. - The Wildcats, who won the regular-season title with an unbeaten slate, finished with a 4672 total team score, with No. 1 West Virginia winning the GARC Championships with a 4704 team score.
Track and field - Junior Precious Nwokey launched herself to the 2011 SEC pentathlon championship with the third-highest point total in the NCAA this season, Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. With her performance the junior also broke her own school record with 4,185 points. - Junior Keith Hayes took home the silver medal in the men's 60-meter hurdles with a career-best time of 7.78. Hayes' time ranks second on UK's all-time 60m hurdles list, only trailing former Wildcat star Mikel Thomas at 7.74. - The women's team equaled their 2010 point total of 38 points but finished one spot higher in eighth place at the conclusion of the 2011 SEC Championships on Sunday. - The men's team finished ninth with 20 points and had contributions from Keith Hayes (eight points), Josh Nadzam (three points), Colin Boevers (two points), the 4x400m relay (four points) and the distance medley relay (three points).
Men's golf - The men's golf team scored the lowest team round of the tournament to finish in second, while sophomore Chase Parker finish tied for second at the final day of the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. - Kentucky (293-302-279-874) was extremely impressive in the final round, posting a 9-under-par for the lowest 18-hole round of the season en route to the lowest 54-hole tournament score of the year of 874. The final round of 279 was the eighth-lowest mark during the Brian Craig Era. - UK was led in the event by Parker (73-69-70-212), who finished in a tie for second place for his best collegiate finish.
Women's golf - The Cats began play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship in New Orleans on Sunday. Kentucky was led by sophomore Ashleigh Albrecht who shot a 3-over par, 75. Kentucky, competing in one of the most competitive tournaments of the spring season, finished the first round with a 17-over par, 305.
Women's tennis - The women's tennis team got wins at Nos. 1-3 singles, but fell to No. 37 Indiana at home on Saturday. Senior Megan Broderick, sophomore Jessica Stiles and freshman Caitlin McGraw each earned their fifth wins of the season in singles play.
Swimming and diving - The men's and women's swimming units competed in a last chance meet in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday and Saturday. The Kentucky men and women had 200-free relay teams earn NCAA (B) provisional times.
Monday, Feb. 28 Women's golf at Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate (New Orleans)
Tuesday, March 1 Men's basketball hosts Vanderbilt - 9 p.m. Women's golf at Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate (New Orleans)
Wednesday, March 2 Men's tennis hosts Murray State - 1 p.m.
Friday, March 4 Men's tennis at Ole Miss - 3 p.m. Women's basketball vs. Alabama/LSU • 3:30 p.m. (Nashville) Women's tennis hosts Ole Miss - 4 p.m. Gymnastics hosts George Washington and Bowling Green - 7 p.m. Baseball vs. Rice - 8 p.m. (Houston) Track and field at Iowa State Qualifier
Saturday, March 5 Softball at Southern Illinois • 1 p.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Baseball vs. Houston • 4:30 p.m. (Houston) Women's basketball SEC semifinal game - 4/6:30 p.m. (Nashville) Softball vs. SIUE - 7 p.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Track and field at Iowa State Qualifier Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Columbus, Ohio)
Sunday, March 6 Softball vs. Wright State - 10 a.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Women's tennis hosts Mississippi State - 11 a.m. Baseball vs. Utah - noon (Houston) Men's basketball at Tennessee - noon Men's tennis at Mississippi State - 1 p.m. Softball vs. Purdue - 2 p.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Women's basketball SEC championship game - 5:30 p.m. (Nashville)
Men's basketball - Terrence Jones averaged a double-double on the week with 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks en route to being named SEC Freshman of the Week. - Brandon Knight went for 20 points against Vanderbilt, his 10th 20-point game this season. It is the most 20-point games by any UK freshman in school history. - Terrence Jones tallied his eighth 20-point game this season, tied for fourth among UK freshmen in program history.
Women's basketball - Kentucky snapped a two-game losing streak Sunday with a thrilling last-second win over LSU in front of a season-high 7,646 fans in Memorial Coliseum. A'dia Mathies found Brittany Henderson open in the paint with 1.1 seconds remaining, giving UK a 49-47 win over the visiting Lady Tigers. It marked UK's first win in Lexington over LSU since 1994. - Mathies recorded a game-high 16 points and four steals in the win, her third-straight game with 16 or more points. - All-America candidate Victoria Dunlap added 15 points, a team-high four rebounds and a game-high three blocks. She also had three steals, which moved her to eighth on UK's single-season list.
Softball - UK began its 2011 season with a 4-1 mark at the FIU Combat Classic which included an upset of No. 22/24 Ohio State on opening night. It marks the second straight season UK has began the year with an upset of a ranked opponent. - Freshman Emily Jolly set a UK single-game record with three doubles in a win over DePaul.
Men's tennis - The men's tennis team swept all three doubles matches to claim the doubles point and then continued its momentum into singles by claiming all six singles matches to take down No. 38 Miami (Fla.) 7-0. Kentucky also defeated Cleveland State 6-1 to complete the doubleheader sweep. - Kentucky was impressive in both matches, winning 11 of the 12 singles matches and all five doubles matches that were played Sunday. The Miami match marked the sixth time this year that UK has faced a top-50 team, with UK holding a 4-2 mark in those matches. - UK claimed the doubles point against both Miami and Cleveland State. The Wildcats are now 4-0 this season when they win the doubles point. - Junior Eric Quigley paced the Wildcats all week, winning three matches, including one over the 11th-ranked player in the country.
Track and field - Sharif Webb locked in UK's first NCAA automatic qualifying mark of the year, running the 800-meters in 1:47.91, Saturday at the Husky Classic in Seattle. - Webb was one of 10 Wildcats who claimed personal-best marks with at least one occurring at each of the three meets UK attended. In preparation for the conference championships that begin in two weeks, schools send split squads across the nation in search of the best competitions in each event area. Kentucky sent sprinters, jumpers and vaulters to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., distance runners to the Husky Classic and mostly throwers to the Akron Invitational. - Shelby Kennard won the women's pole vault at the Tyson Invitational as the only athlete to clear 12-09.50/3.90 meters. The win marked Kennard's first during her young career and moved her up to second on UK's all-time indoor pole vault list. - Precious Nwokey came away with personal-best marks in two crucial events, the 60-meter hurdles and long jump, that will help her make a championship run in the pentathlon at the SEC Championships. Nwokey won the women's long jump on her first jump of 20-02.50/6/16 meters and moved up to fifth on UK's all-time indoor long jump list. The junior also set a personal-best time in the women's 200 meter with a time of 24.50.
Rifle - Newcomers Emily Holsopple and Henri Junghänel had standout performances in air rifle, leading the Kentucky rifle team to a 4675 total team score in the NCAA Qualifying Round, held on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall. - Kentucky shot the qualifying round on Saturday, along with in-state foe Morehead State. UK's 4675 total team score clinches a berth in the NCAA Championships. - Junghänel led the way in air rifle with a 595, while Holsopple contributed at 593 in air rifle. Heather Greathouse added a 582 in air rifle, with Ethan Settlemires and Logan Fox each tallying a 582 in air rifle. In smallbore, Junghänel led the team with a 584, with Greathouse totaling the second-best score on the club, a 582. Holsopple added a 579, with Fox contributing a 578 and Settlemires a 574.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky concluded a strong start to the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships with three to-seven finishes by freshman diver Greg Ferrucci and three top-nine finishes by senior diver Lisa Faulkner. Ferrucci was named the SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year after the SEC Diving Championships finished Sunday evening. - Ferrucci now ranks in the top three all-time in UK history on every board, including the second-best mark on the three-meter board and the second-best score on the platform. - Faulkner's score of 347.60 on the three-meter board is the second-best score in school history.
Women's golf - The Kentucky women's golf team opened its spring season Sunday in Sorrento, Fla., at the UCF Challenge with the second-lowest team score in program history since records began being kept in 1987-88. Sophomore Ashleigh Albrecht led the way for UK with an opening-round, bogey-free 6-under-par 66. Albrecht's 66 is the second-lowest individual round in program history and put her in a tie for first after day one.
Women's tennis - The women's tennis team finished its opening road trip, which included five of its first six matches away from the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex, with a 4-3 loss to No. 31 Ohio State, 7-0 loss at No. 19 Northwestern and 5-2 loss at No. 53 Purdue. - Senior Megan Broderick and sophomore Jessica Stiles went 2-1 in singles play for the week, and Broderick was a part of two wins in doubles play as well.
Monday, Feb. 14 Women's golf at UCF Challenge (Sorrento, Fla.)
Tuesday, Feb. 15 Men's basketball hosts Mississippi St. - 7 p.m. Women's golf at UCF Challenge (Sorrento, Fla.)
Wednesday, Feb. 16 Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.)
Thursday, Feb. 17 Women's basketball at Georgia - 7 p.m. Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.) Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Friday, Feb. 18 Softball vs. Georgia Southern - 10 a.m. (Tallahassee, Fla.) Softball vs. Middle Tennessee St. - 12:30 p.m. (Tallahassee, Fla.) Baseball at College of Charleston - 5 p.m. Gymnastics at Alabama - 8:30 p.m. Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.) Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Saturday, Feb. 19 Women's tennis hosts Miami (Ohio) - noon Softball at Florida State - 12:30 p.m. Men's basketball hosts South Carolina - 4 p.m. Baseball vs. Marshall - 5 p.m. (Charleston, S.C.) Women's tennis hosts Eastern Kentucky - 6 p.m. Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.) Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Sunday, Feb. 20 Baseball vs. Miami (Ohio) - 11 a.m. (Charleston, S.C.) Women's basketball at Vanderbilt - 2 p.m. Gymnastics at Ohio State - 3:30 p.m. Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)