No. 25 Wildcats Post Season High Score in Upset of No. 15 Missouri
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Scoring the highest team score of the season and the seventh best balance beam score in program history, the No. 25 Kentucky Wildcats gymnastics team upset the No. 15 Missouri Tigers, 196.050 – 194.675 in front of a crowd of 4,033 in the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum.
The meet was packed with storylines – freshman Katie Stuart earning her first career all-around title, a season breakout for senior Marissa Beucler and the return of sophomore sensation Sydney Waltz.
“We talked two weeks ago about not competing as hard as I knew we could,” fifth-year head coach Tim Garrison remarked. “I thought we were underachieving a little bit. We’re far from a finished product at this point, but I think we’ve progressed. I think they’re competing harder, they’re fighting for more. We’re seeing more competition for spots and that’s making for some healthy competition in the gym.
“I see them in the gym and they do gorgeous work. Just beautiful routines. We still have yet to get there during these routines.”
UK moves to 2-4 on the season with the win and is 1-4 in Southeastern conference play. Missouri sits at 5-6 while 1-3 in league action.
The meet kicked off with a bang for Beucler, who led the team in the first rotation with an impressive 9.8 on the vault. The mark tied her career best and helped guide UK to a 48.925 on vault. Beucler carried the momentum into the second rotation, where anchoring on the uneven bars, the senior earned a 9.875. The score was the best of 2016 for her and was good for the bars event title – her first event title of 2016.
“We’ve been working a lot on sticking and hitting positions [on vault],” Beucler said. “I knew I had to start the team off strong so we could have a great night. I was really happy with how I performed, getting the stick.
“On bars I had a great warmup. Tim threw me in last second, so I thought to myself that ‘I have to do it for the squad,’ and had to tell myself that I can step into the anchor position. It was all for the team and I was excited I could help.”
Beucler wasn’t the only one to make her presence known on bars. After missing the first segment of the season with injury, 2015 All-SEC selection Sydeny Waltz made her 2016 debut on bars for the Cats. The second-year competitor exceeded expectations, sticking the landing on a 9.85 performance in her season debut.
“My first time competing every year I never feel quite ready and this year was no exception,” Waltz admitted. “I was pretty nervous, and Tim kind of threw it on me, but I think it worked out best that way because I didn’t stress about it all day. It felt good getting back – it felt normal.”
Waltz was not initially in the lineup, but following warmups Garrison decided to add her to the fold.
Perhaps one of the largest stories of the meet, however, was freshman Katie Stuart’s return to the all-around lineup. After competing as an all-arounder in the season opener, Stuart lost her spot on beam. The freshman fought back into the lineup and stepped up to the plate. She shattered her previous beam record while tying her best floor performance en route to a 39.175 all-around title.
“It was really exciting,” Stuart said on her return to the all-around. “I was happy to get the opportunity and wanted to take advantage of it. I loved getting to get back out on beam.”
Missouri edged out the Wildcats on vault for its only event title of the meet, 49.1-48.925. Stuart paced the team with a 9.825, tying the second-highest score of the freshman’s career. Beucler notched a season best and career-high tying 9.8 on the opening vault of the meet, while Alex Hyland matched her mark in the third spot. Sidney Dukes and Katrina Coca both scored 9.75, and Aubree Rosa rounded out the lineup with a 9.725.
Beucler claimed her first title of the season and second of her career on bars with a season-best 9.875, just .025 off her career best. Waltz finished runner-up on the apparatus with a 9.85, just shy of the best mark of her career. Coca recorded a new career best with a 9.775, followed by Dukes and Stuart with matching scores of 9.7. Cori Rechenmacher finished things up with a 9.675, as the Wildcats recorded their highest beam score of the season with a 48.9 to edge out the Tigers’ score of 48.8.
Kentucky had a dominant win on beam, 49.2-48.625, led by Dukes with a career best-tying 9.9. Rechenmacher also tied her career mark with a 9.875, good for second behind her teammate. Alex Hyland was next for UK with her score of 9.85, followed by Stuart with a 9.825 for a tremendous improvement on her previous career best. Montana Whittle recorded a 9.75 and Amy Roemmele posted a 9.65 to wrap up the scoring on beam.
The Wildcats finished up the night with a season-best score on floor with a 49.025 to clinch the meet over Missouri’s 48.15 in the event. Kentucky claimed the top three spots, with Taylor Puryer matching her best score of the season (9.875) to take the title, followed by Stuart with a 9.825 and Hyland with a 9.8 - both career-tying marks for the freshmen. Dukes recorded a 9.775 and Roemmele posted a 9.75 to guarantee the highest score of the season for the Wildcats, with Beucler’s meet-closing score being dropped.
The Wildcats take back to the mat on Sunday, Feb. 14, facing Ball State, Kent State and Lindenwood in Muncie, Ind., at the Ball State Think Pink Meet, beginning at 1 p.m.
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.