No. 21 Kentucky Places Fourth, Hyland, Dukes Qualify for Nationals
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 21 Kentucky Wildcats saw two of its own qualify for the NCAA national championship on Saturday evening, as UK placed fourth at the NCAA regional meet with a score of 195.725.
The freshmen duo of Alex Hyland and Sidney Dukes continued to wow crowds, as the two qualified for the national championships in the all-around. Dukes scored a 39.125, good for a tie for second, and edged Boise State’s Sandra Collantes for the final all-around spot. Hyland was named the all-around champion of the regional, posting a meet-best 39.175 for the title.
Alex Hyland and Sidney Dukes are the 13th and 14th UK gymnasts to qualify for the NCAA championships in program history. They became the eighth and ninth members of the program to compete in all-around at the national championships. Dukes led Kentucky on 24 occasions this season with 10 career event titles, while Hyland led UK on 11 occasions with five career event titles. It also marks the fifth time in Kentucky’s history that the team has sent two all-around competitors to the national championship in the same season.
“It was a tough way to end the season for all of us, but especiall for our seniors that ended their careers tonight,” said fifth-year head coach Tim Garrison. “We appreciate everything that they have done for this program over the past four years, and I can’t emphasize that enough.
”We have gained so much valuable experience from this competitive season that we will carry with us into next year” Garrison added. “Although being so close and not qualifying as a team for the NCAA championship is difficult in the moment, this program has taken another step forward.
“We are really looking forward to Alex and Sidney competing as individual all-arounders and representing UK at NCAA’s. It will be a great experience for them and will continue to further their development as gymnasts.”
As a team the Wildcats finished fourth with a team score of 195.725. Kentucky fell 0.025 short of third, as Boise State pushed past with a 195.75. Alabama (197.125) and California (195.925) advanced as the two teams from the Tuscaloosa regional to compete at the NCAA championships. West Virginia finish fifth with a 194.25, while Bowling Green brought up the rear with a 193.85.
The 2016 season marked multiple broken records for the Wildcats. UK earned its highest regional qualifying score of all-time (196.205) as well as a new record for balance beam RQS (49.13). Also, within a two week span, Kentucky posted its second and third highest scores ever, first earning a 196.7 at Arkansas before scoring a 196.65 while hosting Florida.
UK wraps up 2016 with a team record of 10-15 and a 1-6 Southeastern Conference mark. Hyland and Dukes will compete at the NCAA gymnastics national championships on April 15-16 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dukes led the way for the Wildcats, vaulting fifth with a 9.825 to guide the team to a 48.65 team score in the rotation. Classmate Aubree Rosa competed fourth, posting a 9.8 on the apparatus. Sophomore Sydney Waltz competed in her first event of the day, earning a 9.775 on her run. Freshmen Katrina Coca and Hyland competed in the first and second spots, scoring a 9.6 and 9.65 respectively. All-around freshman Katie Stuart scored an 8.5 after an awkward dismount and was shaken up. Stuart pushed forward, competing in the rest of her events despite the fall.
Following a rocky start on the event, Kentucky rebounded to post a 48.775 on the uneven bars in its third competing rotation of the meet. Coca led off the Wildcats, but a fall resulted in a 9.15. From there the team bounced back, beginning with Stuart who after a fall in the previous rotation scored a 9.7. Next came Waltz, who posted a 9.8 in her fourth appearance on the apparatus this season. Hyland went fourth, scoring a team-best 9.85. Dukes added a 9.625 before senior Marissa Beucler closed out the rotation with a 9.8.
In what feels to have become a norm for the Cats, the team shone the brightest on the balance beam, with a team score of 49.175 on the apparatus. The score also proved to be higher than any other team at the Tuscaloosa regional, marking an additional event title this season for the Wildcats. Senior Montana Whittle led off with an impressive 9.85, tying her best effort of the season. Senior Amy Roemmele followed, scoring a 9.675. Freshman Katie Stuart scored a 9.85 as well in the third spot, before Waltz and Dukes followed up with 9.8 and 9.825 performances, respectively. Hyland capped the performance with an exclamation mark, scoring a 9.85 to close out the meet.
Dukes and junior Taylor Puryear paced Kentucky to a 49.125 score with a team-best pair of 9.85 scores in the final two spots. Hyland was the second to compete for UK, posting a 9.825 to assist UK. Stuart and senior Tiara Phipps rounded out Kentucky’s scoring runs, each earning a 9.8 in the third and fourth spots. Roemmele led off the team with a 9.75. The 49.125 marked the team’s sixth 49 or higher on floor in 2016.
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