Men's basketball - Kentucky earned the No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament and will take on Robert Morris in the opening round on Tuesday. - The invitation to the NIT marks the 22nd-consecutive season UK will take part in postseason play. The Wildcats are 13-6 overall in the NIT and have twice won the title (1946, 1976). - UK fell 64-48 in the SEC Tournament to Vanderbilt, despite a 12-point effort from freshman Archie Goodwin. - Senior Julius Mays is six points shy of scoring 1,000 for his collegiate career. He current has 994 total points, with 301 of those tallies coming in a UK uniform. Gymnastics - Kentucky reached a new program best 196.775 on Saturday at Penn State. - The Wildcats extended their school-record streak of scores more than 196 to four. - Alexis Gross claimed event honors with collegiate-high scores on both uneven bars and balance beam. Gross notched a 9.9 on bars, and received a 9.95 on balance beam. Her 9.95 was third-highest on the event in school history. She received a 9.9 from judge one and a 10.0 from judge two as both averaged a 9.95. - Kentucky also smashed the program-record beam score with a 49.475.
Softball - The No. 17 Kentucky softball team earned an impressive midweek win against No. 24 North Carolina, taking down the Tar Heels 18-0 behind the ninth no-hitter in school history from freshman pitcher Katie Henderson. Henderson went all five innings in the win, striking out four with only one walk. The no-hitter was the first for UK since Chanda Bell threw a no-hitter against LSU in 2012. - The UK offense set many school records in the win as the 18 runs scored and four homers tied the most runs scored in a game in school annals, while UK's 18 runs batted in was the most ever in a single game in school history. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner was the leader of the pack offensively in the win, posting a 4-for-4 night with career highs in home runs with two, runs scored with four and runs batted in with six. - The Wildcats could not keep up the momentum going over the weekend, falling in all three games to No. 13 LSU. The Wildcats dropped the first game 7-1 before dropping the next two games in LSU's last at bat.
Baseball - Kentucky posted its first series win in Gainesville in 14 years over the weekend and just the fifth in the history of the series that dates back to 1953. - The Wildcats fell in the opener after a three-error seventh inning in a 1-1 game and rebounded with an 11-5 win over the Gators on Saturday. In the rubber match, UK turned to Corey Littrell, who pitched UK to the series win in a 6-2 result at McKethan Stadium. - The Wildcats have hit .297 as a team, belting 31 doubles, five triples and 14 homers, scoring 149 runs and stealing 29 bases. On the mound, UK has a 2.45 team ERA, allowing 164 hits in 169 innings, walking 41 and striking out 138.
Men's tennis - No. 10 Kentucky completed the Mississippi swing this weekend, coming out of the weekend 2-0 with a 4-1 win over No. 4 Ole Miss and a 4-2 win over No. 13 Mississippi State. - Kentucky now sits at 16-4 overall and stands tied atop the SEC standings with a 4-1 in-conference record. - No. 31 Anthony Rossi picked up the clinching match on Sunday over No. 18 Romain Bogearts 7-6 (3), 6-3 of MSU. Rossi's doubles partner, Grant Roberts went 4-0 on the weekend as well. In Friday's 4-1 win at Ole Miss, freshman Kevin Lai clinched the match as he moved to 9-0 on the year, picking up his first-career SEC win.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team went 1-1 over the weekend, falling to Ole Miss 4-3 on Friday before defeating Mississippi State 7-0 on Sunday. - Freshman Nadia Ravita won two singles matches in the No. 1 singles slot, improving her record to 15-2. - Sophomore Stephanie Fox and freshman Kirsten Lewis both went 2-0 in singles over the weekend.
Track and field - Kentucky opened the outdoor season with seven event titles by either individual competitors or relay teams. - Andrew Evans won the discus behind a new personal record mark of 59.27m/194'05". - Kayla Parker won the 100-meter hurdles with a PR 13.51 performance. - Both the men's and women's teams won the 4x100-meter relays. - Keffri Neal won the 1,500 meters with a personal-record time of 3:51.60. Teammate Adam Kahleifeh also posted a PR time of 3:51.94 to finish in second-position. - Raymond Dykstra showed off his 2012 All-America credentials in the javelin with a meet-winning performance of 67.84m/222'07"
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team wrapped up the week with two top-10 finishes, placing tied for fifth at the Tiger Invitational and tied for sixth at the Schenkel Invitational. - Junior Stephen Powers recorded his second straight top-10 finish at the Tiger Invite with a 6-over-par, 222, placing tied for sixth overall. Junior Ben Stow also was in the top-20, finishing tied for 14th at 8-over. - Stow continued his torrid play at the Schenkel Invite, posting his first career top-10 finish, placing tied for ninth at 1-under-par. The Salisbury, England native charted a career-low score of 215.
Women's golf - The UK women's golf team competed in their second tournament of the spring, finishing tied for ninth in the 18-team field at the Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate. - Senior Betsie Johnson was the low scorer for the Wildcats, recording her first top-20 finish of the year, placing tied for 19th at 9-over-par.
Swimming and diving - Greg Ferrucci, John Fox and Christa Cabot each earned berths to the 2013 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with their performances at the Zone C Diving Championships in West Lafayette, Ind., this past weekend. - Ferrucci won both the 3-meter (888.05) and 1-meter (825.75) springboard events to advance to his third straight NCAA Championships, and broke the program record on the 3-meter for a six-dive score with a 434.85. Fox earned fourth place on the 3-meter (761.95) to advance to his first NCAA Championships. - Cabot earned her spot on the first day of competition on the 3-meter board, scoring 623.10 to earn a fourth place finish. It will be the sophomore's first career appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Tuesday, March 19 Softball hosts Western Kentucky - 6:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Western Kentucky - 6:30 p.m. Men's basketball at Robert Morris - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20 Softball hosts Iowa - 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 Swimming and diving at Women's NCAA Championships (Indianapolis, Ind.) Track and field at Florida State Relays (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Friday, March 22 Track and field at Alabama Relays - 12:00 p.m. (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) Men's tennis hosts Tennessee - 2:00 p.m. Women's tennis at Tennessee - 5:00 p.m. Softball hosts Mississippi State - 6:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Mississippi State - 6:30 p.m. Women's golf at LSU Golf Classic (Baton Rouge, La.) Swimming and diving at Women's NCAA Championships (Indianapolis, Ind.) Track and field at Florida State Relays (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Saturday, March 23 Baseball hosts Mississippi State - 12:00 p.m. Softball hosts Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Track and field at Alabama Relays - 3:00 p.m. Tuscaloosa, Ala.) Gymnastics at SEC Championships (North Little Rock, Ark.) Track and field at Florida State Relays (Tallahassee, Fla.) Women's golf at LSU Golf Classic (Baton Rouge, La.) Swimming and diving at Women's NCAA Championships (Statesboro, Ga.)
Sunday, March 24 Women's tennis at Georgia - 1:00 p.m. Softball hosts Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Georgia - 1:00 p.m. Men's basketball at SEC Finals - 3:30 p.m. (Nashville) Men's golf at Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate (Awendaw, S.C.) Women's golf at LSU Golf Classic (Baton, Rouge, La.)
Men's basketball - Kentucky went 1-1 on the week with a win over Mississippi State before falling at Arkansas on Saturday. - Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein continued his dynamic play by averaging 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game this week. - With the win over the Bulldogs, UK secured its 57th 20-win season in program history - Kentucky was led in scoring by Arkansas native Archie Goodwin with 14 points in the loss to the Razorbacks. Women's basketball - After earning its school-record tying 13th SEC win with a commanding 78-65 victory over No. 8 Tennessee on Senior Day, Kentucky earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament. - The Wildcats have had another remarkable season under the direction of head coach Matthew Mitchell. Mitchell, who became UK's all-time winningest coach with the win over Tennessee, has led the Cats to a school-record fourth straight 25-win season with a 25-4 overall record, including a 13-3 mark in SEC play. - A'dia Mathies had led the team in scoring (16.0), 3-point field goals made (60) and 3-point field goal percentage (.403), and has reached double figures in 27-of-29 games, including 20 in a row
Gymnastics - The Kentucky gymnastics team shattered the school record with a 196.5 team score in a win at Ball State on Sunday. - Kentucky has now posted team scores of more than 196 two weeks in a row for the first time in school history. - Audrey Harrison won her fifth consecutive individual all-around title with a huge career-high score of 39.425. - The Knoxville, Tenn., native now has a Southeastern Conference-leading seven AA titles this season. Softball - For the second consecutive weekend, the No. 17 Kentucky softball team went undefeated in a weekend tournament, posting a 5-0 record in the 2013 Under Armour Invitational with wins against Illinois, USF, Loyola Marymount, Central Michigan and Western Michigan. - This is the first time in school history UK has gone undefeated in consecutive tournaments. - Senior Kara Dill led UK offensively over the weekend with a .353 (6-for-17) average, including six runs scored and her first triple of the season. - In the circle, Lauren Cumbess paced UK with a 2-0 record and 0.58 ERA in 12 innings pitched, including 11 strikeouts. True freshman Kelsey Nunley went 3-0 on the weekend with a 1.94 ERA, throwing 21.2 innings, allowing six earned runs with 18 strikeouts.
Baseball - The eighth-ranked Kentucky baseball team completed its first home week with five wins, including a series sweep over Akron during the weekend. UK picked up midweek wins over Murray State and Eastern Kentucky. - UK has been led individually by junior infielder J.T. Riddle, who has hit .447 (21-for-47) with three doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBI, stealing three bases and reaching base at a .527 clip. - On the mound, UK had a 2.57 ERA in 98 innings, walking only 27 and striking out 87, with opponents hitting .255, stealing only 3-of-7 bases and UKL picking off four runners. - During the five-game week, UK got a jaw-dropping hitting performance from Reed, who drove in 15 RBI with three homers and a double during the week, batting .526 (10-for-19).
Men's tennis - Kentucky opened the 2013 SEC season by collecting two wins over No. 49 Arkansas (5-2) on Friday and No. 39 LSU (4-0) on Sunday afternoon to move to 14-2 (2-0 SEC) on the season. - Senior No. 21 Anthony Rossi upped his record to 14-1 on the season, picking up wins number 95 and 96 in his career. Rossi has now won nine consecutive straight-set matches and has also won 18 of the last 19 sets he has played. - UK won the doubles point in both matches this weekend, as the Wildcats are now 11 for 13 this season in doubles competition.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team went 1-1 in the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play. - After falling 4-3 at Arkansas on Friday, Kentucky traveled to Baton Rouge, La., and defeated the No. 63 Tigers 4-3. - Freshman Kirsten Lewis had a comeback win to clinch Kentucky's win over LSU, taking the No. 5 singles point 1-6, 7-5, 6-4. - Senior Jessica Stiles, sophomore Stephanie Fox and freshman Nadia Ravita all recorded singles wins in straight sets vs. LSU.
Track and field - Five Kentucky track and field athletes, four women and a man, are in position to qualify for this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships as they own top-16 times. - The Women's Distance Medley Relay Team of Cally Macumber, Morganne Phillips, Allison Peare and Chelsea Oswald broke the school record with a time of 11:00.33 on Friday. - That time ranks No. 6 in the nation. - Keith Hayes broke the school 60-meter hurdles record with a time of 7.73 on Saturday. - That time ranks No. 9 n the nation.
Swimming and diving - The Kentucky swimming team sent several swimmers to the Bulldog Last Chance Meet this past weekend in Athens, Ga., attempting to earn qualifying times for the 2013 NCAA Championships. - Sophomore Christina Bechtel improved her time in the 100-butterfly with a 52.62, second best in program history in that event. The time likely will earn her a ticket to the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., March 21-23. - Junior Lucas Gerotto also improved his time in the 100-backstroke while breaking his own program record in the event, finishing with a 47.19 to increase the likelihood that he is asked back for his second consecutive NCAA appearance.
Monday, March 4 Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Tuesday, March 5 Baseball hosts Cincinnati - 4:00 p.m. Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Men's basketball - Kentucky captured a pair of critical home victories this week including an overtime thriller against Missouri. - Senior Julius Mays poured in a team-high 24 points in the win over Missouri on Saturday. He launched four 3-pointers and has now connected on at least one shot from long range in 16 straight games. - Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein notched a career-high 20 points to push UK past Vanderbilt earlier in the week. He followed that performance with a career-high tying 12 rebounds against Missouri to go along with a career-best seven blocked shots. - Alex Poythress scored 21 points, while Archie Goodwin notched 18 - all coming after the half in the win over Missouri.
Women's basketball - Kentucky split road games last week, defeating No. 10/13 Texas A&M 70-66 in College Station on ESPN2's Big Monday before falling at LSU on Sunday in Baton Rouge 77-72. - Against the Aggies, junior center DeNesha Stallworth flirted with a triple-double as she charted 12 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record seven blocks. . - Mathies netted a team-high 20 points at LSU, passing former Wildcat great Victoria Dunlap as UK's No. 2 all-time leading scorer with 1,863 career points.
Gymnastics - Kentucky recorded its best score of the year at Florida on Friday. The Wildcats finished with a total score of 196.075, dropping the meet to the Gators' score of 196.975. - UK's score was good for the sixth best in program history. - The Wildcats used season-high event scores on vault and beam to reach 196 for the first time this season. - Audrey Harrison also notched her sixth all-around title of the season and fourth in a row, scoring a 39.225.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team finished second at the Great America Rifle Conference over the weekend, shooting a 4690 over the course of the weekend. - Freshman Connor Davis won the GARC individual air rifle title, shooting a 596 before winning with a 105 in the Final. - Senior Henri Junghanel placed second overall individually with an aggregate score of 1179.
Softball - The UK softball team continued its winning ways over the weekend with a 3-0 record, taking down Georgetown, Howard and USC Upstate. - Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner led the Wildcats offensively with a .583 (7-for-12) average with two doubles, two homers, eight RBI and four runs scored. - Pitchers Ellen Weaver, Katie Henderson and Kelsey Nunley all recorded wins, while Weaver going five strong innings, allowing only one hit and no runs against Georgetown and Henderson allowing only one hit over five innings against Howard. Nunley threw the final nine innings against Upstate to get the win.
Baseball - No. 8 Kentucky continued its season-opening six-game road trip with the Caravelle Resort Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach. S.C., picking up wins over CCU and Elon and suffering its first loss of the year to Kansas State in the opener on Thursday. - UK finished the weekend with a ninth-inning win at Coastal Carolina, 2-2. - UK has hit .314 as a team through six games, slugging .435 and reaching base at a .311 clip. UK has stolen 12 bases and on the mound, owns a 3.57 ERA, with 16 walks and 42 strikeouts in 53 innings.
Track and field - The women's track and field team finished seventh in the SEC Indoor Championship team standings with 34 points, and the men finished 10th with 30. - Cally Macumber led all Wildcats with 15 points earned throughout the meet. Matt Hillenbrand led the men with 11.25. Macumber won the women's 3,000 meters SEC championship. - Hillenbrand won the SEC mile championship with a time of 4:01.55. Hillenbrand's time was a new personal best, and the seventh-fastest in school history. The junior became the first Kentucky athlete to win the SEC men's mile since David Freeman took home the title in 2004.
Men's tennis - The No. 6 men's tennis team traveled to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend and collected two wins in a doubleheader with Samford University and Jacksonville State, both by a score of 5-1, to move to 12-2 on the season. - No. 90 Anthony Rossi picked up his 93rd and 94th career wins in a UK uniform on Sunday with wins in both matches for the Wildcats. - Also picking up wins in both ends of the doubleheader for the Wildcats were Beck Pennington, Kevin Lai and Juan Pablo Murra.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team defeated the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks 5-2. - Freshman Nadia Ravita improved to 7-1 in the No. 1 singles slot after defeating Christiana Raymond 6-1, 6-2. - Senior Jessica Stiles and sophomore Stephanie Fox won their singles matches in straight sets, with Stiles winning 6-4, 6-3 and Fox taking the No. 6 singles point 6-3, 6-1. - The Wildcats moved into the rankings for the first time this season, landing in the No. 63 spot.
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team opened up its 2013 spring season, placing 10th out of 16 teams in the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. UK finished 37-over-par with a final score of 901. - Senior Chase Parker was the low golfer of the week for the Wildcats, finishing tied for 16th overall at 4-over-par. - Junior transfer Ben Stow made his Kentucky debut, placing tied for 27th at 6-over-par.
Swimming and diving - The UK men's and women's swimming and diving teams competed in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships last week with both the men (368.5) and the women (452.5) finishing in ninth place. - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci earned two second place finishes on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events and earned an eighth place on the platform. He broke the program record on the platform in the preliminaries with a 435.5. - Junior swimmer Lucas Gerotto broke multiple program records at the Championships including the 200-IM (1:47.20) and the 100-backstroke (47.29).
Thursday, Feb. 28 Women's basketball at Ole Miss - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, March 1 Softball vs. Illinois - 11:30 a.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Women's tennis at Arkansas - 1:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Arkansas - 1:00 p.m. Softball vs. USF - 2:00 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Baseball hosts Akron - 4:00 p.m. Track and field at NCAA Qualifying (South Bend, Ind./Fayetteville, Ark.)
Saturday, March 2 Baseball hosts Akron - Noon Softball vs. Loyola Marymount - 12:15 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Softball vs. Central Michigan - 2:45 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Baseball hosts Akron - 3:00 p.m. Men's basketball at Arkansas - 4:00 p.m. Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Knoxville, Tenn./Athens, Ga.) Track and field at Last Chance Qualifier (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Sunday, March 3 Softball vs. Western Michigan - 9:00 a.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Men's tennis hosts LSU - 1:00 p.m. Women's tennis at LSU - 1:00 p.m. Gymnastics at Ball State - 1:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Akron - 1:00 p.m. Women's basketball hosts Tennessee - 3:30 p.m. Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.) Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Knoxville, Tenn./ Athens, Ga.)
Junior diver Greg Ferrucci will return to the boards at the 2013 SEC Championships while dealing with torn ligaments in his thumb. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
It's been a banner year for Kentucky diving. The Wildcats have racked up wins at an incredible pace, posting 18 combined individual wins from the men and women competitors out of a possible 32 events.
Ted Hautau took over the UK diving program in the 2008-09 season and had only two divers in the program. Since that time, Hautau has rebuilt the program from the ground up, currently has 10 divers on his roster and is looking for his athletes to make a splash on the national scene.
Last season, Hautau tailored his training regimen to allow for his athletes to be in prime condition at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships. After the success his team has had so far this season, Hautau has tweaked his plans for 2013.
"We're not exactly tapering for SECs," said Hautau. "We're shooting for NCAAs. I just told the team early on before the season that we're going to train through SECs. That doesn't mean I don't think we can perform well there; they perform well every week. So I expect they'll do well at this meet."
The Wildcats will receive a huge boost as the 2013 SEC Championships will mark the return of All-SEC performer junior Greg Ferrucci. A six-time SEC Diver of the Week winner including twice this season, Ferrucci was limited by a thumb injury heading into the Louisville meet. He was then held out of competition in the final dual meet of the season at Cincinnati.
With eight individual wins prior to the injury, Ferrucci left a big hole in the diving lineup. Kentucky's depth, however, was more than enough to make up for Ferrucci's absence. UK got strong performances from Corey Cowger, Zachary Zandona and junior captain John Fox, who all earned victories in Ferrucci's stead.
"He's a little bit of the engine of our program in the sense that everyone gets excited and he's a phenomenal diver," said Hautau of Ferrucci. "He's always great in big meets, and just having him back is a relief for him and fun for everybody else. Obviously from a points standpoint, he was the high scorer on the whole team."
Though Ferrucci will be back in competition, it's been nearly a month and a half since he dove at full strength. Ferrucci will be forced to dive through the pain this week, so he'll have to battle through the it if he hopes to get back to his winning ways at the SEC Championships. The time off, however, may have given him a chance to improve in other areas.
"His thumb, it is what it is," said Hautau. "He's going to have to tape it up and it might hurt a little bit. He's really strong right now, he's getting his air awareness back, so we'll see where he's at (this) week."
Fox - described by Hautau and his teammates as the heart and soul of the diving team - was a key component in holding the divers intact while Ferrucci healed. But Fox knows the importance of his teammate to the overall team's success moving forward.
"It's good to have him back," said Fox of Ferrucci. "I don't think it necessarily takes any pressure off the team, but having him around is great because he's incredibly talented and he just brings us up as a team, like our competitive level and everything."
With the whole unit finally back on the boards, Kentucky will have the opportunity to compete against top-notch competition before Zone Diving qualifying in March. The SEC Championships is just another opportunity for UK to really show who the best of the best is.
"The SEC environment is different than any other meet we go to," said Fox. "It's extremely competitive. The talent in our conference is amazing, so competing against those athletes is pretty special."
Though Kentucky expects to do well this week in Texas, they are more worried about being in top form for the Zone Diving event to qualify for the NCAA Championships
Last season, Ferrucci was the lone diver from UK to make it to the NCAAs. This season, UK will be training throughout its time at the SEC Championships with the hopes of qualifying a few more athletes for NCAAs. While that might make success difficult to come by this week, it will allow the Cats to be at full strength when the Zone Diving qualifying meet rolls around.
"I've decided as a program that we've got some depth on our team, we've got talent, they all kind of push each other, so we're at the point now that we're going to start grooming and shooting for NCAAs as a program and putting multiple kids there," said Hautau. "We've got a good shot this year to get more kids into NCAAs. So we're trending in the right direction."
Though the plans have changed this year, UK divers are looking forward to the challenge. Training through an event instead of preparing up to it makes a big difference physically. If UK can get over that hump mentally, the Cats can still enjoy success at the SECs while preparing for NCAA qualifying at the same time.
"It makes it difficult, but you just have to rely on your meet adrenaline," said Fox. "When you've got that going, you don't really feel anything in your body. It's more of a psychological thing. If you can just forget about it and go out there and trick yourself into thinking that you're feeling really good, you tend to dive pretty well. I don't think it's going to affect us too much. It will ensure that we peak at the right time at the end of the season."
Head swimming coach Gary Conelly has prepared his team all season for the SEC Championships. (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics)
The Kentucky swimming team is gearing up for its most important meet of the season: the 2013 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. Actually, UK has been preparing for this meet all season long.
One meet specifically, however, may have propelled the Wildcats into this week's competition in College Station, Texas.
The Kentucky and Louisville rivalry is as simple as it is complex. While both universities are within just an hour's drive from one another making the proximity the main culprit for the ferocity of the rivalry, it has many layers to it that have turned it into what it is today.
That rivalry does not exist in basketball and football alone. Each varsity sport that Kentucky and Louisville share has an element of that rivalry, and their swimming and diving programs are no different.
For Kentucky, their recent meeting with the Cardinals in the pool may have struck a nerve with the Wildcats and served as a momentum-shifting turning point for UK as the Cats head into the always-crucial SEC Championships.
"The Louisville meet was by far the most exciting I've ever been a part of," said senior captain Mandy Myers. "My freshman year we won against them and it was a really great meet, but this was the first time in a really long time that I've seen everyone up and excited and ready to go, just focusing on each other.
"I think Louisville was an extremely important meet for us mentally."
It hasn't been an easy season for Kentucky. The SEC is arguably the strongest swimming conference in the country and the Cats have faced several ranked teams - SEC and non-conference alike - along the way.
Head swimming coach Gary Conelly knew his team had a difficult schedule ahead of them, but with that in mind he decided that he would use the regular season as one long training period. Though UK might take some lumps lumps during the season, the Wildcats would grind through the regular season with the intent to make a splash at the SEC Championships beginning Tuesday in College Station, Texas on the campus of Texas A&M.
Since their opening meet of the season against Tennessee and Indiana, the Cats have made improvements on a meet-to-meet basis.
"Every dual meet is an opportunity to practice and get better," said Myers. "I think every meet we've gotten better. Our first meet was against Tennessee and Indiana. It wasn't a great meet, but every meet since then, there have been things that we've worked on and improved."
As the regular season wound down, Kentucky ramped up its performance, and it was evident as the Cats took Louisville to the wire on UK's senior day in late January. Louisville's men were ranked No. 14 heading into the meet while the U of L women ranked No. 17. Each was pushed to the limit on that day as UK's men and women were neck and neck for most of the afternoon. The men's battle went all the way to the last few races before it was decided, but Louisville managed to pull it out down the stretch.
Despite the loss, Kentucky was encouraged by the performance as it signified that everything that they had been doing during the season was starting to payoff.
Kentucky traveled to Cincinnati the following weekend and proceeded to dominate the Bearcats in UK's final dual meet of the season.
Since that day, Kentucky's swimmers have had their total attention aimed at this week, even though the SEC Championships have been circled on their calendars all season long.
As their last two performances of the season would indicate, the Wildcats are peaking at the right time.
"I think we're pretty excited about it," said Conelly. "Everybody looks pretty good in the water right now.
"We've put in a good year of training. We've been focused on this as our primary meet. All of our marbles are in one jar and everyone's excited as we get ready to go."
The last two meets have not only produced some of the strongest results of the season for the Cats, but it's built their confidence up as they head into their most important meet of the season. As they head into action this Tuesday for the conference championships, UK has left no page left unturned.
"This is my fifth year on the team and this is for sure the most confident we've been as a whole," said Myers. "Personally, I feel the same way. I don't really have any doubts going into SECs, and I don't think anyone else does either, so I'm excited to see what happens."
The 2013 SEC Championships will be special for Myers and her fellow seniors. But for Myers, it will be particularly rewarding.
After sitting out all of last season as she rehabbed her shoulder from surgery, Myers, a fifth-year senior, hopes to go out in a big way.
"This year is especially important to me to give everything I have to my teammates because I owe it to them for allowing me to stick around an extra year to get better," said Myers. "I definitely want to leave on a good note for my team."
Kentucky hopes to have its best showing of the season in Texas this week with the prospects of knocking off some of the top-ranked teams in the country. Though winning the event will be a tall task, UK can gain several small victories with a strong team showing as well as seeing individuals qualify for the NCAA Championships during this meet.
While Kentucky has been looking forward to this opportunity all season long, success in the SEC Championships would not only validate the Cats' hard work all season, but it could bring strong returns for the future of the UK swimming program for years to come.
"It's enormous," said Conelly of having a strong performance this week. "It's clearly the toughest league in the country. Any time you're moving up through that conference, that's a good perception everywhere.
"To get the athletes to the NCAAs makes it even better. Fortunately, we've had a really good recruiting class this year, so I have a pretty strong sense we're going upward anyway, but this would just get the ball moving even more."
Men's basketball - The Wildcats will open up conference play on the road for the fourth time in the last 10 years and the second time in the John Calipari era with a date at Vanderbilt on Thursday. UK defeated Eastern Michigan in dominating fashion to conclude non-conference action. - Freshman Alex Poythress had 16 points, sophomore Ryan Harrow passed out eight assists and freshman Willie Cauley-Stein had a double-double to lead the way. - Kentucky shot 51.7 percent against the Eagles marking the fifth time this season UK has eclipsed the 50 percent mark. UK is undefeated in those contests. - The Wildcats also secured a season-high 52 rebounds, and limited Eastern Michigan to 38 points and a 24.2 percent field-goal percentage which ranks as the fewest points and lowest percentage in the John Calipari era. Women's basketball - No. 6/6 Kentucky is 2-0 to start SEC play for the second straight season after wins over Florida and Alabama last week. In the Florida game, UK broke the school record for consecutive wins in a single season (12) and tied the school record for consecutive home wins (30) with a 76-69 win over the Gators. - Four players scored in double digits led by the reigning SEC Player of the Year A'dia Mathies' season-high 20 points against the Gators. She also dished out four assists and took a team-high four charges in the game. - The Cats then traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the their SEC road opener, picking up their 13th straight win with a hard-fought victory over Alabama 87-70. Five players broke into the double-digit scoring column and three Wildcats had double-figure rebounds. - Junior center DeNesha Stallworth got her second straight double-double with a game-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action. Mathies scored all 17 of her points in just 16 minutes of the second half, nailing a career-high-tying five 3-pointers.
Gymnastics - The No. 25 University of Kentucky gymnastics team notched the program's best-ever score at a season-opening meet on Sunday. The Wildcats totaled 195.125 to finish second in the quad meet behind Cal's 195.425. Arizona finished third (194.825) and Auburn was fourth (194.625). - Kentucky completed the afternoon with a total score more than 195 at the season's first meet for the first time in school history. The Wildcats also enjoyed a day of individual triumphs and firsts as Audrey Harrison set a career-high on uneven bars with a 9.9 to finish in a tie for first on the event. Kayla Hartley tied a career-high of 9.9 to win floor. Harrison's bars title was the first of her career in the event, while she also ran her career tally of individual titles to eight. Hartley now has four career individual titles, all on beam. - Alexis Gross set a career-high with a 9.875. Kayla Sienkowski and Hartley both also had career-performances as both picked up scores of 9.75. Sienkowski was competing on bars for the first time in her UK career. Shelby Hilton rounded out the action on bars with a 9.725.
Swimming and diving - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci picked up a win on the 3-meter springboard at the Tennessee Diving Invitational on Friday with a winning score of 410.85. - Junior swimmer Lucas Gerotto earned two wins at LSU Saturday. He picked up a win in the 100-backstroke finishing at 50.41. He also remained unbeaten in dual meets in the 100-butterfly with a winning time of 49.37.
Upcoming schedule Thursday, Jan. 10 Women's basketball hosts Texas A&M - 6:00 p.m. Men's basketball at Vanderbilt - 9:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11 Gymnastics at Auburn - 8:00 p.m. Track and field hosts Kentucky Invitational
Saturday, Jan. 12 Men's basketball hosts Texas A&M - 4:00 p.m. Track and field hosts Kentucky Invitational
Sunday, Jan. 13 Women's basketball at Missouri - 1:30 p.m. Rifle vs. Alaska-Fairbanks (Murray, Ky.)
MEN'S BASKETBALL - The Kentucky basketball team will play its final midweek contest in the month of December when the Blue and White takes on Samford on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. Kentucky and Samford met for the first time a season ago with the Wildcats earning an 82-50 win. - Freshman Archie Goodwin has logged four or more assists in four consecutive games including five against Baylor on Saturday. Classmate Alex Poythress leads the Southeastern Conference hitting .672 percent of his shots, while fellow freshman Nerlens Noel leads the league with 2.9 blocks per game. - Samford enters the matchup owning a 2-7 overall record which includes a pair of losses to ranked foes in Louisville and Memphis.
VOLLEYBALL - The Kentucky volleyball team advanced to its second straight Sweet 16 following wins over East Tennessee State and Ohio State in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. With back-to-back appearances in the round of 16, UK is one of just eight schools to achieve the feat. It's the first time in the Craig Skinner era that UK has won two matches in the tournament in consecutive years and the first time in program history since the 1987-88 seasons. - Senior Ashley Frazier's 12 kills on .500 hitting sparked a 3-0 sweep of ETSU on Friday. Then it was a spectacular display of defensive fortitude that halted the high-octane attack of Ohio State. UK charted 11.5 blocks and picked up 55 digs to fluster the Buckeyes into a .213 hitting clip and no more than 14 kills in a set following the opening frame en route to a 3-1 win. - Junior Alexandra Morgan had seven blocks in the win, and senior Stephanie Klefot logged 18 digs to lead the way vs. OSU. Sophomore Lauren O'Conner paced three attackers in double-figures with a team-high 16 kills, while junior Whitney Billings notched her 17th double-double of the season with 10 kills and 12 digs in the winning effort. - Kentucky will move on to face No. 1 seed Penn State on Friday at 5 p.m. in the West Lafeytte Regional. It is the second-consecutive season UK will face the top overall seed in the tournament. WOMEN'S BASKETBALL - Kentucky improved to 6-1 with wins over Miami (Ohio) and No. 6/7 Louisville last week. Against the RedHawks, junior Bernisha Pinkett had a career day as she came off the bench to record her first career double-double. She set personal-bests with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while equaling her career-high with five assists. She became the first Wildcat to post a 20-point and 10-rebound game since Victoria Dunlap (22 pts/11 rbs) vs. Vanderbilt on March 5, 2011. - Sunday's matchup at Louisville pitted two of the nation's top two teams as No. 9/8 UK traveled to No. 6/7 Louisville. It marked the first meeting with both teams ranked in the top 10 nationally, and it turned out to be quite the barnburner. - Trailing by 14 points with 15:08 to play in the game, the Wildcats clawed back and charted one of the biggest comebacks in the Matthew Mitchell era. Led by junior DeNesha Stallworth's game-high 14 points, the Cats outscored the Cards 18-6 in the final 10 minutes, but the most valuable player of the game turned out to be one of the most unlikely players. - Freshman point guard Janee Thompson, who did not see action in the first half and who was averaging just 5.2 points coming into the game, came off the bench to hit three straight critical free throws down the stretch and nail the go-ahead 3-pointer with 8.5 seconds to play. She ended with 13 points in just 16 minutes of action, giving the Cats their first win over the Cards on the road since 1999 and their first win over a top-10 foe on the road since defeating No. 8 Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky., in 1991.
SWIMMING & DIVING - The Kentucky diving team competed at the Miami Open last weekend in Oxford, Ohio in a field that included the Guangdong Provincial diving team from China. - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci picked up a third-place score of 386.0 while senior John Fox earned a 322.4, good for fifth place in the 1-meter. Freshman Rebecca Hamperian earned a fifth-place score of 275.35. Sophomore Sarah Chewning earned sixth place with a final tally of 271.05 in the 3-meter. - Sophomore Christa Cabot earned a career high score of 301.95 to take second place in the women's 1-meter. Junior Corey Cowger earned an NCAA Zone qualifying score of 326.45 on the 3-meter board.
Football - Kentucky was impressive both on offense and defense in a win over Samford. Offensively, Kentucky posted 455 yards of total offense including 342 on the ground, while the UK defense limited Samford to 102 yards of total offense - which was the lowest output by a UK opponent since 1996. - True freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow went 10-of-13 for 66 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 59 yards and a rushing touchdown. Junior Raymond Sanders led the team in rushing with 123 yards and a TD. - Linebacker Avery Williamson paced the defense with 13 tackles, including two sacks, becoming the first player since 1990 to have four straight games with 13 or more tackles.
Men's basketball - Freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel led the effort against Duke as Poythress scored 20 points, while Noel contributed 15 points and eight rebounds. - Kentucky used sharp shooting in going over the century mark in the 101-49 victory over Lafayette. Kentucky's .645 shooting from the floor as a team was the best under fourth-year head coach John Calipari and best for any UK team since 2008. - Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer hit a career-high seven 3-pointers. Poythress charted a career-high 22 points to become the first freshman to have back-to-back 20-point efforts since Brandon Knight in February 2011.
Volleyball - Junior Alexandra Morgan shined in a 3-1 win over Georgia with nine kills on a .400 hitting percentage, but it was her defense that proved the difference. Morgan had a career-high 10 blocks to accompany three aces and four digs. The 10 rejections was easily a career high and it marks the first 10-block performance by a Wildcat since Lauren Rapp had 10 blocks in an NCAA Tournament victory back in 2010. - UK honored the senior class of Ashley Frazier, Christine Hartmann and Stephanie Klefot before the match. Frazier had nine kills, Hartmann a double-double with 45 assists and 13 digs, and Klefot a match-high 19 scoops in the victory.
Women's basketball - UK's first road trip of the season wasn't a very pleasant one as the Wildcats dropped an 85-51 decision to No. 1 Baylor in the programs' first-ever meeting. It didn't help that UK shot its lowest shooting percentage since 2008, netting just 27.1 percent from the field. Senior guard A'dia Mathies led UK with 12 points, while sophomore guard Bria Goss added 11. - UK regrouped and charted an 80-46 win over High Point on Saturday, hitting 50 percent from the field (30-of-60) and forcing 32 turnovers on season-high tying 19 steals. Mathies once again led the way, scoring all 17 of her points in the first half. Junior forward Samarie Walker pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds to go along with six points, three assists and three steals.
Women's soccer - UK fell to No. 5/6 UCLA in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship, ending their season with a 14-6-1 mark. - It was the first time UK had ever advanced in the NCAA Tournament in 20 years of competition. - Kentucky finished the season with a 2-1-1 record against top-15 teams in the country, knocking off No. 12 Louisville, No. 13 Florida and earning a draw with No. 6 Texas A&M.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team shot a 4693 on Saturday but fell to top-ranked TCU. - Freshman Connor Davis tied a program best in air rifle with a 597. Senior Henri Junghänel led the team with an aggregate score of 1185, shooting a 590 in smallbore followed by a 595 in air rifle. Cross country - Cally Macumber capped a great season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships on Saturday. She finished the 6K race in a season-best time of 19:42.20, fewer than 15 seconds behind the race winner. She is the highest NCAA finisher for the Wildcat women since Valerie McGovern was the national runner-up in 1989. Macumber became the first woman in UK history to complete a 6K race in less than 20 minutes. - Chelsea Oswald also had an impressive day as she came in 37th with a time of 20:13.00. Both Macumber and Oswald earned All-America honors, marking the first time since 1988 that multiple UK women were garnered that recognition in the same year. - Luis Orta also impressed by finishing with a time of 30:52.30 in his first NCAA Championship appearance.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky's men's and women's swimming teams earned second place finishes in the Volunteer Invitational this weekend. The Wildcats earned strong individual performances from freshman Matt Roman and junior Lucas Gerotto on the men's side, while sophomore Julia Gerotto, senior Mandy Myers and senior Megan Eppler led the way for the women. - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci had a big weekend, sweeping the 1-meter (369.95), 3-meter (410.90), and the platform (383.35) events over Tennessee and Duke.
Men's soccer - Kentucky fell to No. 19 Xavier, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. - UK hosted just its second NCAA Tournament game in the history of the program and its first since 2003. UK's NCAA Tournament berth was also its first in nine seasons, with the Wildcats making its fifth all-time postseason appearance.
Wednesday, Nov. 21 Men's basketball hosts Morehead State - 7:00 p.m. Volleyball at Missouri - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 23 Volleyball at Auburn - 4:00 p.m. Women's basketball hosts Morehead State - 4:00 p.m. Men's basketball hosts LIU Brooklyn - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 24 Football at Tennessee - 12:21 p.m.
Lucas Gerotto has won the 100-butterfly in all three meets this season. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
For the Kentucky swimming team, two Gerottos are better than one.
Junior Lucas Gerotto and his sister, sophomore Julia Gerotto, have been two bright spots early on for the Kentucky squad this season. Lucas has been on a hot streak all season, winning the 100-butterfly event in all three swim meets UK has participated in this season, while Julia has come on strong as of late, winning her first event in the 200-butterfly.
The Brazilian siblings are showing that even though they are a long ways away from home, they are more than comfortable finding success in the United States. And even better, for the University of Kentucky.
It almost didn't turn out that way.
Lucas's first choice wasn't Kentucky. He actually spent one season at Clemson University before transferring to UK. But the decision to transfer wasn't ultimately his.
"I first went to Clemson and then we had our program cut," said Lucas. "I started looking for new places and (UK head coach) Gary (Conelly) contacted me."
It was a frustrating time for Lucas. Clemson had just completed one of the greatest seasons in program history. They finished No. 25 in the nation and Lucas had excelled in his freshman season. As he dealt with the feelings of losing his team, he had to begin looking for a new one.
Current Kentucky assistant and former Clemson assistant Derek Perkins played a major role in the recruitment of the Gerottos to Kentucky. He knew Lucas from their time at Clemson and had already developed a relationship with the Gerotto family.
While Lucas weighed his options, a newly-hired Perkins and the Kentucky staff were already looking at Julia to possibly add to their roster. Unable to make a visit of her own, Julia had to rely on Lucas's opinion when he took his recruiting trip to the Bluegrass.
"I came for a recruiting trip, loved it, and my sister was back in Brazil looking for a university here," said Lucas. "She asked me to pay attention to stuff and tell her later what I thought about it. I just told her that I loved it and thought it was a great place."
Each of them had other options and places they were looking at, but based on her older brother's impressions, Julia put her trust in Lucas's observations during his trip.
"It kind of just worked out that way," said Julia. "We were looking at all different places, and I just trusted my brother's opinion and thought, 'OK, I can go to the same school as you.' "
With the decision made to come to Kentucky, Julia finished up her high school education in December of 2010 so that she could enroll early at UK in 2011. Though she would have to sit out of competition in the spring semester, she was able to spend some time with the team and get used to the college life.
Meanwhile, Lucas was finishing up his final semester at Clemson before he could head to his new university.
It was a difficult adjustment for Julia initially, coming to a brand-new country and having to assimilate into a completely different culture. Times were tough.
"It was like a big change for me," said Julia. "I didn't have time to get used to it. I just got here and had to learn everything. My brother was at Clemson, so he had a year to adjust to the American lifestyle."
But when Lucas finally made it to Lexington, the Gerottos relied on one another to settle in. Julia looked to her older brother on how to get used to America and the college lifestyle, while Lucas relied on Julia to get used to his new school and team.
"I'm the oldest one so I'm kind of responsible for her," said Lucas. "But she got here six months before me, so she had the responsibility to tell me where things were and how things work here, so it was funny because I was looking out for her and taking care of her, and she was doing the same thing for me."
Each of them, after spending most of their lives swimming together back in their club at Brazil, were reunited and once again swimming for the same team. Life became easier.
"He taught me some things about classes and how it worked," said Julia. "He taught me some things about practice and how different the coaching style is from Brazil. It was just really helpful to have him go through the adjustments first."
For Lucas, after spending a year by himself in Clemson, it was nice to be able to have his family back.
"I think here it's special because we're away from family, so we have each other's support and someone to speak Portuguese to," said Lucas. "I think that's one of the things I wish I had in my first year as a freshman. She wasn't there with me. I feel like it's easier here for me."
Julia Gerotto picked up her first win of the season against Auburn in the 200-butterfly. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
After strong campaigns in their first seasons at Kentucky, it would seem the Gerottos have settled in nicely in Lexington. This season, they are already making a deep impact, often seeing their names high up in the results.
Lucas has had a great start to the season, winning the 100-buttefly event in each of the first three meets he's competed in this season. And in each meet he's improved his time. Standing at 5-foot-9, Lucas doesn't have the typical make-up of a sprinter. But one thing that he was able to do that he didn't have the chance to do in Brazil was to hit the weight room.
After spending a summer in Lexington after his first season, Lucas hit the weights and added some strength. A distance swimmer for the majority of his life with the 200-butterfly his specialty, his additional strength helped him become one of the top sprinters in the Southeastern Conference.
"That's his favorite because it's the perfect distance for him," said Conelly. "He takes a lot of pride in that race. I don't think he's going to let anyone beat him in it. They're going to have to outperform him to do that, and that's going to take a pretty special swim."
On the women's side this season, Julia has helped pick up the slack. On a team that's hurting due to a few injuries, Julia's filled in for other areas that may not be her strong suits. And she's getting better every week.
Conelly says her swims have been critical.
"On Julia's side," said Conelly, "her performances are enormous because we actually are swimming her out of her best events and she's taking up slack where we're not as strong like the 1000 and 500 and stuff like that."
Julia's best events are shorter races like the 200-butterfly or the 200-individual medley, but she's been able to hold her own in the other events that her team needs her. Last weekend against Auburn, she picked up her first win of the season in one of her specialty races, finishing first in the 200-butterfly while also claiming second place finishes in the 1000-freestyle and 400-individual medley.
The Gerottos are not long, tall athletes. They don't have prototypical builds of top swimmers. They are getting results. But how?
"I personally hate, hate to lose," said Julia. "I'm really competitive in everything I do in life."
Julia and Lucas each have that killer instinct which has seen them find success during meets each weekend this season. It's something that Conelly believes makes a good swimmer great.
"They are both really talented swimmers, but I think more importantly they're real hard workers," said Conelly. "They're very competitive. They want to do real well. They push themselves real hard in practices. So when they get up to race, they give 100 percent every time they race."
That competitiveness may be the key to each of Lucas and Julia's success the rest of their swimming careers as their bright spots become brighter. Conelly feels that there is potential for each of them to succeed in the NCAA championships and eventually compete for the Brazilian national team in the Olympics. With the physical skills that each of them already have, the future is very bright as long as they continue to "hate to lose."
"They can go pretty far," said Conelly. "They've got a really good combination. They've got the most important piece of the combination which is the drive to win. They're both physically really talented and then they have that killer instinct to compete. You can't teach that."