Success is not a new thing for the Kentucky rifle team. During Harry Mullins' 26-year tenure as head coach of the program, high national rankings, conference championships and competing for national titles have been commonplace.
This season has been no different. In defeating top-ranked West Virginia in the final match of the regular season, UK wrapped up the Great American Rifle Conference championship. Kentucky now heads into postseason play looking to reach the one achievement that has eluded Mullins in his time leading UK rifle: a national championship.
"That's why we're in the business, to win championships," Mullins said. "It's something that's on my mind every single day."
While the next step for the program is a national title, the next steps for this team are the NCAA Qualifying Round (Feb. 12 in Lexington) and the GARC Championships (Feb. 25). If UK performs as expected, the Wildcats will likely garner one of eight bids to the NCAA Championships on March 9.
With Kentucky losing four seniors to graduation after the 2009-10 season, it may have looked on paper like UK would not quite be ready to compete on the level to which it had been accustomed. However, the emergence of newcomers Emily Holsopple and Henri Junghänel as contributors has helped UK to a 10-1 regular season and one of the deepest rosters in the history of the program.
Holsopple and Junghänel have consistently been among UK's top performers in both air rifle and smallbore, the two components in rifle competition. With that said, making up for the loss of All-Americans like Thomas Csenge, Leslie Angeli and Ashley Jackson has fallen on the shoulders of the team as a collective unit.
"I think the whole team overall really stepped up to the challenge," Mullins said. "We lost four seniors but we were not going to take the attitude that it was a rebuilding year.
Mullins cited the improvement of returners like Heather Greathouse and Logan Fox as vital to the team's growth.
"Heather Greathouse, a sophomore, has definitely developed in posting the scores that she is capable of doing," Mullins said. "She learned a lot from a tough freshman season. Logan Fox, he's a senior and last year he was fifth and sixth in smallbore, but he has moved himself up in the top three or four consistently."
UK's top performers will be in contention for All-Americaa honors when the time comes, but it's Kentucky's balance as a team that allows them to win any match they enter.
Take, for example, UK's recent win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers have reigning world champion Nicco Campriani (who has recorded a perfect 600 air rifle score this season) on the roster, but what Kentucky has is a complete team that has the ability to overcome individual mistakes with a combined effort.
"We didn't have anybody shoot a phenomenal number, but what we had was a collective team effort," Mullins said. "Individual mistakes are OK as long as they aren't repeated. We're going to live and die by what we all do."
Mullins said the team concept to a sport that can often be perceived as highly individual helps combat some of the pressure members of the team, especially the newcomers, may feel.
"We may only have one or two people going to the NCAA championship that have ever been there before," Mullins said. "It becomes a very mental game, so that part in itself puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the athletes. We've tried to get our guys to understand that 600 is the maximum, so even if somebody is struggling, you can't shoot a 610. The focus should only be on what you can do."
The result of that team approach has been a season during which UK's average team score has exceeded the highest individual match score that Kentucky recorded all of last season. Against West Virginia, UK set a season high of 4696 in a phenomenal team effort.
Since UK will almost certainly face off against the talented Mountaineers twice more this season at the GARC and NCAA Championships, the Wildcats will be called on to replicate or improve upon that performance. On the day following its loss to Kentucky, West Virginia posted a score of 4704, an NCAA high not only this season, but in the history of NCAA competition.
"On paper, (the Mountaineers) are an awesome team, but we feel we're a pretty good team too," Mullins said. "When the two get together, I think we both try to prove we're the better team."
Rifle is a unique sport in that no defense is played. That is to say that a team is in control of only its own score, meaning UK could post a season-best score in an effort to win a national title, only to be bested by an even better effort by an opponent.
What that means for Mullins is that he focuses only on his own team.
"Do I feel like this team has the capability of winning (the national championship)? Yes, but I felt that way on a lot of these," Mullins said, pointing to the seven second- or third-place NCAA trophies sitting atop his desk. "We're striving to break that 4700 mark. If we can do that and someone comes up and beats us, then we'll walk right up and shake their hands."
UK rifle wants desperately to bring home a national championship, but Mullins won't allow himself wallow in defeat if it doesn't come this year.
"Should (losing the national title) be a disappointment?" Mullins asked. "You should be disappointed you lost, but there still was that great road and process to get there."
Rifle - The rifle team rode a school-record team score to a 4696-4680 win over No. 1 West Virginia, clinching the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall. - Kentucky completed an undefeated season in conference action with the win, besting the 2008-09 NCAA Champion Mountaineers, who also entered the match undefeated in league play and needing a win over UK to clinch the title. - With the win, UK has clinched its fourth all-time regular-season GARC Championship and its first since the 2008-09 season. - Kentucky's 4696 total team score eclipsed the school record set earlier in the year when the Wildcats totaled a 4691 win over Memphis in Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 21.
Men's basketball - The Wildcats dropped a 70-68 heartbreaker at Florida over the weekend. After falling behind by 13, the Cats battled back to take a one-point lead late in the game, but a last-second 3-pointer by Brandon Knight fell short. - UK hosts Tennessee on Tuesday. The Wildcats have posted a 160-51 (.758) record against SEC East teams since the league split into divisions in 1991-92. Kentucky is 5-1 in games following a loss this season. - John Calipari is 28-0 at Rupp Arena as the UK head coach. The Wildcats have the second longest home winning streak in the country at 29.
Women's basketball - Kentucky put together an impressive win over Auburn on Thursday for its seventh consecutive victory. The Cats defeated the Tigers 69-38 in Memorial Coliseum, marking the largest margin of victory in SEC play in school history. It also marked the first time UK has held an SEC opponent under 40 points in school history. - Sophomore Brittany Henderson led the winning effort with a career-high 13 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. - Senior Victoria Dunlap collected her second consecutive and sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. She has now eclipsed the 1,000-rebound mark (1,007), becoming just the second player in school history to chart more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career.
Gymnastics - Senior Andrea Mitchell took home the all-around title with a career-high score of 39.275 and the University of Kentucky gymnastics team posted season-high marks on balance beam and vault, but fell short in an upset bid at No. 22 Auburn 194.625-194.450. - Mitchell was spectacular for the Wildcats, scoring season highs on vault, uneven bars and beam to post a career-high score in the all-around. The all-around win for Mitchell was the first individual all-around title for UK on the road in the SEC since 2006. - Kentucky defeated Auburn on vault with a season-high post of 49.2 while also scoring a season-high mark on beam with a 48.375. UK took home event honors at three events with Jasmine Minion winning event honors on vault and Mitchell claiming honors on bars and beam.
Men's tennis - The men's tennis team could not repeat its historic upset last season against Virginia, losing to the top-ranked Cavaliers 7-0 in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. - Virginia, which boasts two top-10 ranked doubles teams and six top-105 ranked singles players, took control of the match from the beginning, winning the doubles point and all six singles matches. - Kentucky took two first sets in singles against the Cavaliers.
Track and field - The track and field team wrapped up competition at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet with a win by junior Walter Luttrell in the men's 5,000-meter run and placed six other student-athletes in the top six of their respective events on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. - Luttrell secured his victory with a personal-best and SEC-leading time of 14:29.50 in the men's 5,000-meter run, claiming the Wildcats lone win of the day. The junior is now the two-time defending champion and record holder in the event at the VT Elite Meet, previously winning with a time of 14:41.65, Feb. 5, 2010. - Senior Mary Angell recorded her third consecutive top-six finish in the women's shot put with a throw of 50-07.25/15.42 meters. The senior's season-best mark of 51-01.75 currently sits second in the conference. - Junior Keith Hayes ran his second-fastest 60-meter hurdle race this season, in 7.82, approaching his season-best time of 7.80, which currently ranks ninth in the NCAA. - Freshman Kyron Joseph recorded two top-five finishes Friday, claiming fifth in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.82 and third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.58. Joseph was followed closely in the 200-meter by fellow freshman Kadeem Kushimo who grabbed fifth in 21.79.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team fell to No. 7 Michigan 7-0 on Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. - Kentucky will host Ohio State on Wednesday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center for its first home match of the season. Matches will begin at 1 p.m.
Maurice Davis was the latest basketball star to blossom on the Southside of Chicago. Long, lanky, equally adept at scoring and rebounding the athletically built 18-year-old senior was an honor student, captain of the Englewood Technical High School basketball team and on the radar of Division I-A college scouts. He was going to score a rare victory over the streets. And then, in the flash of a gun's muzzle, he was gone. Another victim of the struggle. DeAndre Liggins was just 14 at the time, another youngster trying to steer clear of the violence and drug war that claimed so many of his friends and neighbors.
John Calipari said it again. "What we know is that we're good enough to win," the Kentucky coach said Saturday night, standing in the back hallway of the O'Connell Center. And yet, Kentucky can't seem to win. Not on the road. Not in a close one.
John Calipari's back-to-back magic is snapped. Chomped, you might say. Florida's 70-68 win Saturday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center capped an 0-2 week for the University of Kentucky and gave Calipari his first back-to-back losses since he dropped four straight at Memphis in 2005.
Kentucky had so much talent and depth last season that it had a much greater margin for error than John Calipari's second team does. That's why UK's 70-68 loss at Florida Saturday night -- Kentucky's fourth two-point loss this season and second in five days -- was so close to a huge, huge win for the Wildcats.
Former Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodsonadmits it hasn't been easy accepting that his football playing days are over. But coaching is something Woodson believes can help him cope. Woodson and ex-UK receiver Glenn Holthave joined Joker Phillips'staff as student assistants. Both have enrolled at UK for the spring semester. Woodson said he's about two semesters away from a degree in kinesiology, and Holt expects to get his sociology degree in December.
Despite pitching well his senior season, Meyer's commitment to the Wildcats was so strong that he fell to the Red Sox in the 20th round in the 2008 draft. Boston went all-in with their signings that year and made a hard push to pry Meyer away from Kentucky at the deadline. Meyer said turning down the Red Sox was the toughest decision of his life, but he never second guesses himself.
Drumming up interest for their 11th season, the Lexington Legends did something at their annual publicity "caravan" Thursday that they'd never been able to do before -- introduce a Kentucky Wildcat who very well could be on their opening-day roster. "That would be a cool thing," Marcus Nidiffer said. "I'm ready to be the first."
Matthew Mitchell pondered the question for just a millisecond. On a scale of zero and Armageddon, where does No. 16 Kentucky's Monday evening showdown with No. 5 Tennessee rank? Pounding the table for mock emphasis, Mitchell said with a smile "gotta go with Armageddon. This is big. Game of the Century." OK, maybe not. But it is going to be big.
The Kentucky rifle team road a school-record team score to a 4696-4680 win over No. 1 West Virginia, clinching the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship, on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall. "I was really proud of the team, they really did great," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "This was the first step in our journey this year."
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the extreme competitiveness and impressive football character Cobb and Locke display, which contribute to their rising stock. Kentucky's defense was just okay in 2010 and the quarterback and offensive line were average at best, but the Wildcats hung around in a lot of games because of these two players. Locke could be seen lowering his shoulder while Cobb continued to make tough catches over the middle no matter the situation or score, and scouts notice that.
But social media is here to stay, and it's all over the news. In Egypt, Facebook and other forms of social media are being used by people on all sides of that nation's crisis to spread information and show solidarity. Back here in the U.S., Twitter has been responsible for three of the biggest stories in the NFL postseason.
Tim Masthay had an exit plan. Eighteen months ago, the punter for the Green Bay Packers was newly married but also out of a job. The Indianapolis Colts had sent him to the scrapheap of NFL specialists. And suddenly Masthay, then 22, had to confront the possibility that his future -- and his income -- would not be that of a professional athlete.
By the end of his stellar career with the Kentucky Wildcats, Masthay was well known to fans for his booming punts that so often flipped field position. Now in his rookie year with the Super Bowl-bound Green Bay Packers, Masthay is again being talked about for all the right reasons.
If you've ever wondered what it looks like to see a team collectively hold its breath all at once, watch the Kentucky gymnastics team during its beam routine. Historically an area of concern for UK, beam, one of four routines in a gymnastics meet, is once again the proverbial mountain to climb that separates the Cats from moving up the Southeastern Conference ladder. At season's end, the team will likely look at beam as either the team's key to a successful season or the anchor of disappointment.
The Kentucky rifle team shot school-record score of 4,696 to defeat No. 1 West Virginia on Saturday. The victory clinched the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship, the school's fourth GARC title.
The question now, with NCAA qualifying next weekend, is how good is this year's team? Mullins' squads routinely compete for the national championship, posting seven top-three finishes in Mullins' tenure, but the team has yet to actually win one. Is this the year the Cats can finally do it? How does this team compare to the ones that came so close to winning it all over the years?
I will explore some of those topics with Mullins in a feature later on in the week as the team gets ready for its national championship run.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 24:
Men's soccer: Tyler Beadle
Freshman Tyler Beadle had a great week in leading the Wildcats to a crucial win over conference foe FIU and a tie with No. 16 Indiana. Beadle made four saves in the tie with IU, helping UK to just its third tie in series history with the high-octane Hoosiers. In the win over FIU, Beadle collected his fourth shutout of the season, saving four shots in the game, including two shots in a five-second span in the second half. A native of Douglasville, Ga., Beadle has posted a 1.11 goals-against average in his first 15 collegiate games.
Men's golf: Brian Belden
Brian Belden shot a 1-under-par 71 in the final round, totaling a 54-hole score of 1-under-par 215 to gather his third straight top-20 finish at the UNCG Bridgestone Golf Collegiate. The top-20 finish is the third straight top-20 finish of the year for Belden, who ended the Gary Koch Intercollegiate in 15th and the Philadelphia Big 5 Invitational tied for ninth. Belden's 3-under-par 69 in the second round was one of the lowest rounds of the tournament and the lowest UK score at the event.
Rifle: Heather Greathouse
Sophomore Heather Greathouse posted a match-best 590 in air rifle and added a 581 in smallbore to lead the Kentucky rifle team past Army on Sunday at UK's Barker Hall.
"I am very proud of Heather and her performance this weekend," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "She worked through diversity like a champion in order to reach her personal goals. She has set some high standards for herself this year, but has also committed to a high level of intensity during training. This focus has brought her expectations to reality. We are all looking forward to watching Heather the rest of the season."
Football: Winston Guy
Recorded eight tackles in the loss to Georgia.
Football: Mike Hartline
Completed 27 of 43 passes for a career-high 353 yards and four touchdowns.
Women's soccer: Laura Novikoff
Laura Novikoff helped UK to a 1-1 record on the weekend by netting three goals, including the game-winner against Mississippi State. Novikoff scored two goals against Mississippi State, including one off a free kick from 45 yards out. Her multi-goal game was the second of her career and the second for UK this season.
Men's tennis: Eric Quigley
Eric Quigley won the singles title of the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Indoor Championships over ITA No. 1 John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee 6-3, 7-6 (5), claiming his second straight singles title at the event. The win marks the second time in his career that Quigley has defeated the No. 1-ranked player in the country. Last year, Quigley took down top-ranked Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State in straight sets 7-5, 6-1 at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships. This is the first time in three chances that Quigley has defeated Smith.
Men's soccer: Tyler Riggs
Freshman Tyler Riggs netted the biggest goal of his short UK career on Sunday, helping UK post a win over league foe FIU. With the game scoreless and just three minutes left in regulation, Riggs hooked up with Charles Pettys for the game-winning goal, lifting UK to the crucial, must-win over FIU. On the year, Riggs, a native of Louisville, Ky., owns a team-best four goals.
Football: Raymond Sanders
Accounted for 156 rushing and receiving yards with one TD in the game against Georgia.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 21:
Men's basketball: DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins, a 6-foot-11 forward from Mobile, Ala., averaged 19.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in wins at Mississippi State and at No. 17 Vanderbilt. He recorded his 16th double-double of the season at Mississippi State with 19 points while pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds. Against Vanderbilt he scored 19 points to go with five rebounds and three steals. Cousins has scored in double-figures in 18 of his last 19 games.
Women's basketball: Victoria Dunlap
Dunlap, a 6-2 forward from Nashville, Tenn., earned her fourth Player of the Week award this season after averaging a team-high 15.5 points on 11-of-19 shooting (57.9 percent) to go with 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.0 blocks in UK's two wins. The victories gave UK a school-record 11 SEC victories and its first undefeated home season (17-0) since 1980-81. It also set the school mark for home wins in a season with 17.
Gymnastics: Emily Green
Senior Emily Green won or shared two titles and finished second in another, helping UK post its season-high team score of 195.850 in a victory over Ohio State on Feb. 19. Green won the balance beam with a 9.850 and shared title honors with teammates Hillary Ferguson and Jasmine Minion on the floor exercise with a 9.900 score. Green has won back-to-back titles on the floor exercise after finishing first against Auburn with a 9.900 on Feb. 12. She has three floor titles this season and five in her career. Green's 9.950 score against Florida on Jan. 22 was tied for the top score in the event by any SEC gymnast entering last week.
Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies
Mathies, a 5-9 guard from Louisville, Ky., earned her third Freshman of the Week honor this season after averaging 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds to go along with 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals in the wins. She recorded 11 points with a 3-pointer, four free throws, five rebounds and two steals against Florida and had 10 points with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals vs. South Carolina.
Baseball: Alex Meyer
Sophomore right-hander Alex Meyer made the start against Virginia Tech in the season opener for the Wildcats, picking up his first win of the season. A 6-9, 220-pound right-hander who is rated as the seventh-best sophomore in college baseball by Baseball America, Meyer worked five innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight. Meyer recorded his first three outs of the season by strikeout, adding punch-outs in five of his first six outs.
Men's basketball: Patrick Patterson
Patterson posted back-to-back double-doubles in helping UK to wins at Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. He tied the game at Mississippi State on a field goal with :37 left to send the game into overtime. Tied for team-high honors with 19 points against the Bulldogs. Hit UK's only 3-pointer in the second half to give the Wildcats a 52-49 lead at Vanderbilt. Then, leading 55-53 with :39 left against Vandy, grabbed crucial rebound off Vanderbilt missed 3-pointer to help preserve win. Now has eight double-doubles this season and 29 in his career, moving him to a tie for seventh on UK's all-time double-double list.
Softball: Rachel Riley
Sophomore pitcher Rachel Riley tossed 14 scoreless innings in two shutout victories for Kentucky. Riley dominated Minnesota, limiting the Gophers to just two hits and zero walks in a complete game effort. She matched a career-high with six strikeouts against Minnesota as well. For the weekend, Riley recorded her third and fourth career shutouts in two starts while yielding no runs and just six hits in 14 innings of action.
Baseball: Taylor Rogers
Freshman southpaw Taylor Rogers made his collegiate debut in sparkling fashion, tossing 7.2 shutout innings to pick up the win over West Virginia Saturday. A 6-3, 170-pounder, Rogers was thrust in to the weekend rotation in his first college outing and dominated the Mountaineers, allowing only six hits and no runs, issuing just one walk and fanning two. A native of Littleton, Colo., Rogers got outs from the first 13 hitters he faced, carrying a perfect game into the fourth inning. Rated as the seventh-best freshmen in the Southeastern Conference and the 21st-best freshmen in college baseball, Rogers threw just 85 pitches, filling up the strike zone throughout the game, tossing first-pitch strikes to 25-of-29 batters faced. He forced 15 groundouts in the contest, fielding his position well with two assists and a putout. Rogers didn't allow a WVU base runner to reach scoring position until the fourth frame.
Softball: Natalie Smith
Senior Natalie Smith led the squad with seven hits on a .438 batting average for the week as UK charted a 5-0 week and a championship at the Florida Atlantic Kickoff Classic. She had at least one hit in four of the five games, and prior to her one game without a hit she had charted at least a single in five consecutive games.
Rifle: Megan English
Sophomore Megan English had an outstanding week, ranking a team-best sixth overall in the combined categories at the 2010 Great American Rifle Conference Championships. English totaled a team-best 592 in air rifle, ranking third overall in the conference, also contributing a 573 in smallbore, good for 17th overall.
Rifle: Jen Pason
Senior Jen Pason finished third overall in the smallbore competition at the 2010 Great American Rifle Conference Championships, totaling a 581 to lead the team. Pason also charted a 582 in air rifle, ranking 21st overall in the match.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 31:
Men's basketball: DeMarcus Cousins
Averaged a double-double on the week, while recording back-to-back double-doubles against South Carolina and No. 21 Vanderbilt ... Shot better than 78 percent from the free throw line on the week ... Recorded his third and fourth 20-10 games this season ... Has 12 double-doubles this season, a UK freshman record ... Tied career high 27 points against South Carolina ... Recorded his 13 th multi-block game this season ... His double-double against Vanderbilt was his 12 th of the season, the most in the league ... He has recorded four straight double-doubles, the second time he's done so this season ... Double-double against Vanderbilt came in only 24 minutes
Women's basketball: Victoria Dunlap
Junior forward Victoria Dunlap averaged a double-double with 21.5 points and 11.0 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field.
Helped Kentucky earn its first back-to-back SEC road wins since 2005-06 and helped UK break the school record for most consecutive SEC games wins with five.
Posted her ninth 20-plus point performance of the season in UK's 71-62 upset at No. 18 LSU Thursday.
Netted 13 of her game-high 24 points in the crucial second half, including seven points in the final 8:57 of the game to help UK grab its first win in Baton Rouge since 1995.
Became the 27th member of UK's 1,000-point club on Sunday after registering her 19th career double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Mississippi State.
Swimming and diving: Lisa Faulkner
Junior Lisa Faulkner posted the fifth double-victory of the season as she swept both of the boards in UK victories over Cincinnati and Vanderbilt. Faulkner, the lone diver on the roster, captured valuable points for the Wildcats as she swept the events -- and did so in 30+ point fashion over her closest finishers.
Swimming and diving: John Fox
Diver John Fox posted his first double-victory of his young career by sweeping the boards in a UK win over Cincinnati. Fox claimed the one-meter and three-meter boards in stylish fashion. His 303.33 score on the one-meter is a career-best clip. He also posted the victory by nearly 100 points over the second-place finisher in the event. The one-meter score is also good enough to qualify for NCAA Zones.
Men's tennis: Alberto Gonzalez
With a historic bid on the line, junior Alberto Gonzalez completed a brilliant come from behind win to push UK into the round of 16 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Associations National Indoor Championship. Gonzalez win over Wake Forest's Danny Kreyman at the No. 5 singles position gave No. 14 Kentucky a 4-3 win over No. 16 Wake and its first final 16 appearance in a indoor or outdoor national championship since 2005. With all matches decided it was up to Gonzalez to send the Cats to the finals. Gonzalez really stepped up his game and fought hard for the Wildcats winning both his single matches over the weekend while also helping UK claim the doubles point on Sunday.
Swimming and diving: Kyle Greene
Senior Kyle Greene was instrumental in helping the Wildcats dominate Cincinnati to cap off dual meet action with a win. Greene, participating in Senior Day festivities, charted a season-best clip in the 100-back as he took second behind teammate Zach McGinnis for a 1-2 finish. In the 100-free he was UK's top finisher. Finally, Greene took the first-leg in UK's winning 200-free relay that captured an NCAA 'B' time standard in the winning tap.
Women's tennis: Caroline Lilley
Grabbed Kentucky's third point in their upset over No. 24 Alabama with a victory over No. 82 Alexa Guarachi 7-6, 5-7, 7-6 (11-9)
Upset No. 66 Sasha Krupina 6-4, 6-3 to take the Cats' first point in their 4-2 loss to No. 10 Georgia Tech
Lilley currently stands 3-1 on the indoor season
Swimming and diving: Zach McGinnis
Freshman Zach McGinnis continued to be a dominating force for the Blue and White in the backstroke events as he has emerged as UK's top threat in the discipline. McGinnis tapped first in both the 100 and 200-back events in a win over Cincinnati. He also took the opening backstroke leg of the winning 200-medley relay, which marked his third win of the day.
Rifle: Jen Pason
Senior shooter Jen Pason had a good week in leading UK to a win at Nebraska Saturday in Lincoln. Pason totaled a 576 in smallbore and a 584 in air rifle for the Wildcats against Nebraska. "Jen showed great determination in fighting for every point for her team Saturday against Nebraska," UK assistant coach Stacy Underwood said. "She is very eager to improve on her performance through hard training during the next two weeks before NCAA Qualifies. Jen and her senior teammates are looking forward to helping make a big push in the coming weeks for the postseason."
Track and field: Precious Nwokey
Precious Nwokey won the pentathlon at the McCravy Memorial Track Meet with a score of 3804 points, the top mark in the SEC this season.
Swimming and diving: Kayla Sergesketter
Junior Kayla Sergesketter was a valuable scorer for the Blue and White in its defeat of both Cincinnati and Vanderbilt on Saturday. Sergesketter notched a season-high time in the 50-free and also came home with a victory in the 100-free. Additionally, she was the third leg of the winning 200-free relay to cap off a tremendous meet for the Wildcats.
Track and field: Kristin Smith
Senior Kristin Smith broke the weight throw varsity school record for the second time this season. Smith's mark of 20.51/67-3.5 earned her an NCAA provisional qualifier and a national standing of fourth-place overall. The Wildcats hosted the Rod McCravy Memorial this past weekend where Smith finished in second place.
Track and field: Rondel Sorrillo
Rondel Sorrillo picked up the first NCAA automatic qualifier for the Wildcats this season. Sorrillo ran a 20.77 in the 200-meter dash, which currently stands as the second best time in the nation. His time of 20.77 is only .05 away from Sorrillo's personal best and the UK varsity school record set by Sorrillo in 2009. His time of 20.77 notched a first place win at the Rod McCravy Memorial, which the Wildcats hosted at the E.J. Nutter Field House.
Swimming and diving: Trina Winsor
Freshman Trina Winsor captured individual victories in three events -- the only UK swimmer to achieve the feat in wins over Cincinnati and Vanderbilt this weekend. Her victory in the 400-IM and time of 4:25.01 marked the sixth-best time in school history in the event. She also went on to claim wins in the 200 and 500-free events.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for
our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending
Sunday, Jan. 24:
Swimming & diving: Elvis Burrows
Senior Elvis Burrows was an integral part in three of Kentucky's top events
in a loss to No. 16 Louisville this weekend. Burrows took the butterfly leg
of the second-place 200-medley relay which achieved an NCAA 'B' time standard.
He then led a 1-2 finish in the 100-butterfly by the Blue and White. Finally,
he was the second place finisher in a 1-2 finish for UK in the 50-free. His
time in the event (20.07) was an NCAA 'B' time standard and his best of the
Men's basketball: DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins, a 6-11 forward from Mobile, Ala., scored 16 points and pulled down
14 rebounds in only 17 minutes of action in helping lead Kentucky (19-0, 4-0
SEC) to a 101-70 win against Arkansas. It was Cousins' 10 th double-double
of the season, one shy of the UK freshman record of 11 (Chris Mills) in a season.
He has recorded two straight double-doubles and has recorded six double-doubles
this season while playing less than 20 minutes in the game.
Swimming & diving: John Fox
Freshman John Fox gained valuable points for the Wildcats with a victory on
the three-meter board and a runner-up finish on the one-meter board at Louisville
this weekend. Fox's three-meter score of 324.08 was nearly 20 points more than
the second-place finisher, and it is his career-best mark in the event.
Rifle: Logan Fox
Logan Fox had an outstanding week, with solid performances in both the win
over Army and the loss to Alaska-Fairbanks. In the win over Army, Fox totaled
a 587 in air rifle and a 573 in smallbore, with his air rifle score ranking
fifth best in the match. In the match with UAF, Fox had a 581 in air rifle
and a 576 in smallbore. "Logan has made some great gains in his performance
this semester," assistant coach Stacy Underwood said. "He has been very focused
on working and fine-tuning his mental game plan in practice. This weekend's
match against Ole Miss was indicator that his training is paying off and he
is ready to compete at a higher level. It's great to have such depth on our
team so that ever team member continually strives for a better performance."
Gymnastics: Emily Green
UK senior Emily Green won the floor exercise with a career-high and meet individual-high
score of 9.950. She became only the third gymnast in school history to record
a 9.950 on the floor exercise along with former Wildcat and current assistant
coach Heather Hite and three-time all-around NCAA champion Jenny Hansen. Green
posted her second title of the season, first on floor exercise. Green finished
second on the beam with a team-high 9.800.
Rifle: Ashley Jackson
Ashley Jackson continued to lead the UK rifle team with solid performances
against Army and Alaska-Fairbanks. Jackson has had an outstanding senior season
and totaled a team-best 589 in air rifle against UAF and a 578 in smallbore.
In the win over Army, Jackson had the best air rifle score of the match (592)
and the second-best smallbore score of the match (583). "Ashley was an unwavering
force in the past three matches," assistant coach Stacy Underwood said. "Although
she had solid scores, the most impressive part was the determination and focus
she displayed during each match. There were several times where she had to
make the decision to expect more from herself and she prevailed like a true
Swimming & diving: Chatham Penrod
Junior Chatham Penrod claimed both backstroke events for the second consecutive
meet, and was the only UK athlete to earn two individual victories. Her time
in the 100-backstroke (55.61) is an NCAA 'B' time standard. She also took the
backstroke leg in the winning 200-medley relay which also achieved an NCAA
'B' mark in Kentucky's loss at No. 13 Louisville this week.
Women's basketball: Lydia Watkins
Senior forward Lydia Watkins averaged 8.0 points and 7.5 rebounds off
the bench in helping Kentucky earn two SEC wins and improve to 16-3 overall
and 4-2 in SEC play.
Watkins scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field in an 18-point
win over Auburn. With the Tigers trimming a 20-point UK lead to 10 points
midway through the second half, Watkins made a series of critical plays for
the Cats. She recorded two steals, made a conventional three-point play and
scored another basket, all in a span of 49 seconds to thwart the Tigers'
rally and extend UK's advantage to 17 points.
Pulled down a season- and game-high 12 rebounds and scored six points
in UK's win over Arkansas.
Has scored in double digits in four consecutive games while averaging
just 18.0 minutes per game.
UK alum Tom Leach has
been the play-by-play "Voice of the Wildcats" for the football Cats for 12
years and 9 year's for men's basketball. He is a four-time winner of the Kentucky
Sportscaster of the Year award. Tom offers an entertaining and insightful perspective
into UK athletics. Column entries will be posted twice per week through April.
Read Tom's full biography
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= = =
Special teams could play a key role in the outcome of the Music City Bowl
matchup between Kentucky and Clemson.
C.J. Spiller is arguably the most dangerous returner in the country, having
already returned four kickoffs for touchdowns this season. And with eight kickoff
or punt return TDs, Spiller is one away from a setting a national record. Kentucky
All-American Derek Abney is one of the players with whom Spiller is currently
UK special teams coordinator Steve Ortmayer has great respect for Spiller,
but he also trusts his kickoff coverage team and kicker Craig McIntosh.
So don't look for the Wildcats to do what several teams did to try and contain
Spiller, which is to squib the kick. That's part of the reason Clemson's average
starting position for its drives this season was the 38-yard line.
"We're just not willing to give up that 20 yards of field position that
other teams have," said Ortmayer, adding that UK will at least start off
by kicking the ball down the field as it has all season.
"We've done that with everybody we've played against. We feel like if
we've got our normal set of guys, we've got enough speed on that team that
we can challenge them," he continued. "He's a speed guy who likes
to do this, so he can create some things for himself and then his ability takes
over. When he played him when he was a freshman but he didn't scare you like
he does now."
Ortmayer also has confidence in McIntosh, despite the cold weather that is
forecast for Nashville.
"That kid has come along over the course of the last six weeks, to become
a quality kicker. It remains to be seen if he can play in the kind of weather
we'll get here," Ortmayer said. "If affects kickoffs tremendously.
There's no air in the ball. It's just a cold, hard rock. It won't hang in the
air like we need it to and it won't go as far--so we'll need to adjust to those
"We're challenge our guys," he added, "to make sure this is
not the 'C.J. Spiller show'."
= = =
ESPN's Jay Bilas knew the Kentucky basketball team was loaded with talent
but because of the great lack of experience, he has questions about whether
the Wildcats can go as deep into the NCAA Tournament as the Final Four. But
after watching the Cats beat North Carolina earlier this month, he started
to revise that opinion.
"I think he (Calipari) is striking the right balance of giving them the
freedom to make mistakes but holding them accountable," Bilas said. "Some
of these things you learn, you learn through experience. When it comes down
to the end of the year, are they going to be vulnerable to getting beat by
an older team? Yeah, they are--but you knew that going in. But I think Kentucky
is going to be better than I thought. They've got a lot of talent and they
play really hard. That's one thing that may trump some of the experience issues.
And it looks like they're attentive to what the coaching staff wants. They're
so certainly not afraid (of big games) and that's a plus. These kids play high-level
basketball every summer. I think, generally, an 18-year old kid is better than
they were 20 years ago."
And obviously, Bilas is quite impressed with John Wall.
"His explosiveness is off the charts," he told tomleachky.com. "I
just haven't seen a guard that young that is, frankly, that good."