No. 22 Wildcats Post Season-Best Score in Loss at No. 9 Arkansas
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky was firing on all cylinders on Friday evening as the No. 22 team in the nation posted the second best score in program history with a 196.7 Friday evening in Barnhill Arena.
Had it not been for a program record 197.225 from the No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks, the Wildcats would be celebrating a victory as well.
Kentucky posted season bests on vault, beam and floor with a slew of Wildcats setting new personal bests. Four Wildcats in freshmen Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland, Katie Stuart and sophomore Cori Rechenmacher set the tone for the evening, all scoring a 9.9 or higher in one rotation.
“It’s a strange feeling – when you have a night that’s the second highest score in program history you feel pretty good about that part, but then you realize you didn’t get the win and you feel a little bit of a loss,” fifth-year head coach Tim Garrison said. “It’s just kind of where we are. I thought we started off and could have been a bit sharper on bars. We could have hit some more landings, but overall on bars I thought they really fought hard. I thought they performed well. It wasn’t exceptional, but it was good.
“When we went over to vault, we had the best rotation we’ve had this year. We did well on floor. We stepped up to another level.”
Kentucky sits at 6-5 on the season after dropping head-to-head with the Razorbacks and is 1-5 in Southeastern conference play. The Razorbacks come in at 5-5, with a 3-3 SEC record.
The Wildcats saved the best for last, posting its highest scoring rotation of the season on beam. Kentucky combined for a 49.375, with Dukes, Hyland and Rechenmacher all posting 9.9’s or better to guide the team.
“On beam the first person went out and did her job, the second went out and had a mistake,” Garrison remarked. “For the next four in a row to go out there and do what they did – that showed some mettle that we’ve been missing at times this season. It was good to see that fight. I think that we’re a complete team now. By a complete team, I mean we have people in and out of lineups that are very good. It comes down to who is better on that given day, and that kind of competition breeds successful teams. For me – that’s what we’ve been missing.
“I think we have a great mix of experience and talent, and we’re primed to take a big step forward. That being said, it takes doing. I think we’ve done it once this season, which was tonight. We need to continue to repeat it to see if we’ve taken that last step. We’re primed, now we have to actually walk through the door, so to speak, and take that last step.”
Two Wildcats tied career best marks en route to the highest team vault score of the season with a collective 49.175. Stuart tied her career best 9.9 in the fifth spot. Classmate Aubree Rosa, who competed just before Stuart, tied her best all-time with a 9.875. Sophomore Sydney Waltz made her vault debut for the season with a 9.825, followed by a 9.8 from Dukes. Freshman Katrina Coca improved her best score by 0.25 with a 9.775, while senior Marissa Beucler led off with a 9.7.
In her third meet back in Kentucky’s lineup after returning from injury, Waltz led the team on bars, scoring a 9.85, tying a season high. Beucler followed closely behind, scoring a 9.825 in the anchor spot. Coca and Stuart added a pair of 9.775’s in the first and second spot, respectively. Rechenmacher and Dukes competed fourth and fifth, each adding a 9.75 score to round out Kentucky’s 48.975 in the rotation.
Kentucky continued a dominant streak of performances on the balance beam, posting the second highest score in program history with a 49.375. Hyland, who anchored the event, also earned the event title with a 9.925. Dukes matched her career-best with a 9.9, while Rechenmacher posted a new personal best with the same score. A pair of 9.825’s from senior Montana Whittle and Stuart rounded out the team’s scoring performances, while a fall from senior Amy Roemmele resulted in a 9.35.
Dukes paced the Wildcats on floor with a 9.875 as Kentucky posted its best team floor performance of the season, increasing by a tenth of a point with a 49.125. Junior Taylor Puryear continued to play a critical role on floor, scoring a 9.85 in the fifth spot. Hyland tied a career-best with a 9.825, while Roemmele matched her season-best 9.8. Senior Tiara Phipps returned to the floor for the first time in four meets, scoring a 9.775. Stuart matched Phipps’ score.
Kentucky returns to competition next in Memorial Coliseum for its final SEC meet of the year, facing the No. 2 Florida Gators. The meet will be live on ESPNU with a 7 p.m. ET start. The meet is taking on a “Youth Night” theme, with multiple promotional opportunities available.
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.