No. 21 Kentucky Set for NCAA Regionals
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 21 Kentucky Wildcats look to make history on Saturday afternoon, hoping to earn its first ever team berth to the NCAA gymnastics national championships as the team competes in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional in Coleman Coliseum at 5 p.m. ET.
Kentucky is making its 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA regional, a school record, coming off the best regional qualifying score in program history with a 196.205.
Kentucky will go head-to-head with host and fourth-seeded Alabama, California, Boise State, West Virginia and Bowling Green. While upstaging perennial powerhouse Alabama for a spot looks to be a tough undertaking, Kentucky has fared well against Cal in the past, with UK topping the west coast squad in their last meeting in 2014. Kentucky defeated Boise State in the lone matchup between the two clubs in 2006, and took down West Virginia earlier this season in Morgantown, W.Va. The Wildcats are also 6-0 against Bowling Green all-time.
Fans can watch the match online on the SEC Network+ via the Watch ESPN app on mobile devices or by heading to espn.go.com/watchespn. Gary Harris will serve as the meet’s play-by-play announcer with Ashley Miles Grieg serving as the meet’s analyst. Hannah Chalker will add to the broadcast as a reporter.
KENTUCKY POSTS RECORD SCORE AT SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
The Wildcats continued to improve upon a marquee season at the Southeastern Conference championship on March 19, scoring a 196.25 for the highest team score ever at the SEC championship meet.
The performance was best illustrated in the closing rotation for Kentucky. After a fall on beam from Amy Roemmele, the pressure was on the remainder of the lineup to respond. The back three made an impressive performance, as sophomore Sydney Waltz scored a 9.85 in her second beam appearance of the season, before freshmen Sidney Dukes and Alex Hyland went on to score a pair of 9.9’s to round out the rotation.
DUKES, HYLAND NAMED ALL-SEC, SEC ALL-FRESHMAN
For their performance on the balance beam during the SEC Championship, both freshmen Sidney Dukes and Alex Hyland were named to the All-SEC and SEC All-Freshmen team, as their 9.9 scores led the first session’s participants.
Dukes doubled down on both the teams, earning the honor for her performance in all-around as well. Dukes finished second in the first session with a 39.4 across all four rotations, a new career-high for the rookie.
Dukes and Hyland become the 16th and 17th Kentucky gymnasts to be named to the All-SEC Team all-time. The duo also became just the third and fourth members of the SEC All-Freshman Team, along with current sophomores Sydney Waltz and Cori Rechenmacher. The SEC All-Freshman Team debuted in 2009.
DUKES RANKS AMONG TOP 30 IN NATION ALL-AROUND
Kentucky freshman Sidney Dukes has put together a strong showing in all-around throughout the season, with her regional qualifying score ranking 26th in the country, as the Tyler, Texas native enters the NCAA Regional meet with an RQS of 39.31.
DUKES IN ALL-AROUND
National AA Ranking: 26
SEC AA Ranking: 10
AA Ranking in Region: 4
AA Ranking among Freshmen: 3
WILDCATS AMONG TOP 20 ON BEAM
UK has come to define itself this season as a strong beam team, showing steady improvement and solid results throughout the season. The Wildcats now rank tied for No. 20 in the country on the balance beam with an RQS of 49.13, good for seventh in the SEC.
The beam lineup in anchored by freshman Alex Hyland, who individually ranks tied with teammate Sidney Dukes for 28th in the country with a 9.880 RQS. Kentucky’s 49.13 RQS also marks the highest in school history, with the previous record being set in 2013 with a 49.07.
UK RANKED IN THE TOP 25 FOLLOWING FINAL WEEK OF REGULAR SEASON
Kentucky sits at No. 21 in the national rankings with a 196.205 in its most recent RQS. Kentucky posted a 196.25 last time out in the fourth consecutive meet with a score of 196 or greater. The Wildcats join the rest of the SEC in the top 25, as the only conference to have its entire conference represented in the top 25.
LOOKING AHEAD: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Wildcats have an opportunity to make history at the NCAA regional meet, with a chance at earning a spot as a team at the NCAA championships as a team. In order to qualify, the team must finish in the top two in the region.
If Kentucky fails to score as one of the top two teams in the region, individuals still have the chance to reach the NCAA championship in Fort Worth, Texas. The top two all-around competitors from teams not advancing will appear in the NCAA championship. If the team fails to qualify for the national championship, UK could likely be represented, as Dukes boasts the second highest RQS of all individuals who have competed in all-around this season within the Tuscaloosa regional.
For complete news and updates on the Kentucky Gymnastics program, go to UKathletics.com. Breaking news, behind-the-scenes updates and more can be found on Twitter at @UKGymnastics and Facebook at Facebook.com/UKGymnastics.