Gymnastics Posts Season-Best Score in Win Over UIC

Jan. 28, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky women’s gymnastics team used season-high team performances on uneven bars and balance beam en route to posting a season-best team score of 195.05, earning its first dual-meet victory of the season 195.05-194.35 over Illinois-Chicago on Saturday in Chicago.

“We took another step in the right direction tonight,” said UK head coach Tim Garrison, who is in his first season with the UK program. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I am very proud of our athletes and the fight that they showed in the meet tonight.”

UK’s team score of 195.05 is the highest in a regular-season dual-meet on the road since last year’s squad earned the same mark at Ohio State. Kentucky posted season-high scores on bars and beam, earning a 48.825 on bars to crush the previous season high of 48.5. On beam, Kentucky earned a team score of 48.975, which is tied for the 12th-highest beam score in school history and the highest since the 2009 team posted a 49.1 on March 15 in Alaska.

Individually, Kentucky (3-3, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) set or tied 17 season highs and 14 career highs in the meet. Sophomore Audrey Harrison paced Kentucky with a career-high score of 39.0 in the all-around competition, while setting a career high on uneven bars and tying a career high on floor exercise. Freshman Alexis Gross also earned a career high in the all-around competition with a score of 38.875. Gross posted career highs on vault, uneven bars and balance beam.

The Wildcats continued to use a youthful lineup in the meet as 19 of UK’s 24 routines were performed by freshmen and sophomores. Kentucky has now used 18 or more performances from underclassmen in every meet this season, including a season-high 20 last week against SEC foe Florida.

Amazingly all six gymnasts that made the UK lineup on beam set season highs in the meet, including five gymnasts that set of tied a career high on the event. Senior Storey Morris led the Wildcats with a career-high tying 9.85, which earned her the event title. The high mark for Morris was also a season high. Sophomore Holly Cunningham followed closely behind with a career-high 9.825 to finish tied for third on the event, while sophomore Kayla Sienkowski and Gross set career highs when each earned a 9.775. Harrison continued her consistency on beam with a 9.75, while freshman Shannon Mitchell completed the UK scoring with a career-high 9.65.

The Wildcats started the night on uneven bars, earning a team score of 48.825 behind junior Caitlyn Ciokajlo winning the individual event title with a season-high 9.825. The event title is the first of the season for Ciokajlo and the fourth and of her career. Gross, who set a career high on the event, and Morris finished tied for second at the meet with a pair of 9.775s, while Harrison set a career high with a 9.725. Senior co-captain Whitney Rose earned a season high on bars with a 9.725, followed by freshman Sara Shipley, who posted a 9.1.

Kentucky had a nice night on vault, led by three gymnasts earning career highs. Cunningham won her first career event title with a career-high score of 9.825 on vault, while freshman Kenzie Hedges finished second at the meet with a 9.8. Morris, who leads off the UK rotation on vault, got things going with a 9.775, followed by Harrison’s 9.725. Gross and fellow freshman Shelby Hilton earned career highs on the event when each scored a 9.6 to complete the UK rotation.

UK narrowly missed tying a season-high floor score by one tenth when it posted a team score of 48.525. Harrison’s career-high tying 9.8 led UK on the event, while Hedges tied a career high with a 9.725. Gross also earned a 9.725 on the event, followed by Sienkowski’s 9.675. Hilton and Hartley wrapped up the UK rotation with Hilton posting a 9.6 and Hartley an 8.3.

UIC’s Andrea Skala took home the all-around title with a score of 39.050, while Harrison finished second with a 39.0 and Gross third with a 38.875.

Kentucky will continue its two-meet road trip next Friday when it returns to SEC action against LSU in Baton Rouge, La. The meet is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.

For more information on the Kentucky gymnastics team, follow "UKGymnastics" on Twitter and Facebook or visit UKathletics.com.

Team Results
1) Kentucky 195.05, 2) Illinois-Chicago 194.35
UK: VAULT 48.725, BARS 48.825, BEAM 48.975, FLOOR 48.525
VAULT: Cunningham 9.825, Hedges 9.8, Morris 9.775, Harrison 9.725, Hilton 9.6, Gross 9.6
BARS: Ciokajlo 9.825, Gross 9.775, Morris 9.775, Rose 9.725, Harrison 9.725, Shipley 9.1
BEAM: Morris 9.85, Cunningham 9.825, Sienkowski 9.775, Gross 9.775, Harrison 9.75, Mitchell 9.65
FLOOR: Harrison 9.8, Gross 9.725, Hedges 9.725, Sienkowski 9.675, Hilton 9.6, Hartley 8.3
All-Around: Harrison 39.0, Gross 38.875