Gymnastics Continues Improvement with 195.05 at LSU

Feb. 3, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky gymnastics team continued to show its improvement on every event by recording a season-high score on floor exercise and tying its season-high team score in a 196.125-195.05 loss to No. 14 LSU on Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.

The team score of 195.05 ties the season-high mark set by Kentucky (3-4, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) last weekend against non-conference foe Illinois-Chicago. UK has now eclipsed the 195 mark for the second consecutive meet for the first time since the beginning of the 2010 season. The score of 195.05 is the highest in a SEC dual meet since UK earned a 195.55 against Georgia in 2010.

“Since day one we have told this team to continue to improve every time it steps into the gym and I think we did that today,” UK head coach Tim Garrison said. “We did not like how we performed in our first SEC road meet of the year and our girls wanted to show tonight that we were better than that. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but getting this score on the road is something we can be happy with tonight.”

Kentucky won the balance beam over LSU (2-6, 2-2 SEC) with a team score of 48.875, while the top-15 ranked Tigers defeated the Wildcats on the other three events. Sophomore Audrey Harrison and freshman Alexis Gross shinned in the all-around competition again as both earned career-high marks. Harrison finished third in the all-around with a 39.125, while Gross was fourth with a 38.975.

The Wildcats again used 18 or more routines from freshmen or sophomores and have now used at least 18 routines from underclassmen in every meet this season. UK also set or tied nine season and career highs in the meet.  

UK started the night on uneven bars, earning a team score of 48.525. Harrison led the Wildcats with a career-high score of 9.775, while freshman Alexis Gross finished second on the team with a 9.75. Senior Whitney Rose continued her consistent year on bars with a score of 9.7, while freshman Sara Shipley tied a season high with a 9.675. Senior Storey Morris, who leads the team on the event in average, went 9.625, while junior Caitlyn Ciokajlo went 9.15.

Kentucky performed well on vault as two Wildcats set career highs en route to a team score of 48.9. Sophomore Holly Cunningham paced UK with a career-high score of 9.85, which tied the highest vault score of the season for UK. Gross also earned a career high on the event, finishing tied for second on the team with a 9.775. Fellow freshman Kenzie Hedges and Harrison also posted 9.775s, while freshman Shelby Hilton concluded the event with a 9.55.

The Wildcats set a season-high floor score for the second consecutive week with a mark of 48.75. Two gymnasts earned career highs, including the highest floor score of the season by Harrison, who posted 9.85. Hedges also earned a career high with a 9.775, followed by sophomore Kayla Sienkowski’s 9.725. Hilton and Gross each earned 9.7s, while sophomore Kayla Hartley went 9.525.

UK finished the night with another clutch performance on balance beam led by freshman Shannon Mitchell’s career-high 9.825. Cunningham finished second on the event with a 9.8, while Morris went 9.775. Gross continued to do well on the event with a 9.75, while Harrison posted a 9.725 and Sienkowski a 9.7.

LSU’s Rheagan Courville won the all-around title with a 39.45, while Lloimincia Hall finished second with a 39.250.

Kentucky will return to action Friday when it hosts the 2011 Southeastern Conference and National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. ET at Memorial Coliseum.

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

Team Scores:
1) LSU 196.125, 2) UK 195.050
UK Scores: Vault 48.9, Bars 48.525, Beam 48.875, Floor 48.75
VAULT: Morris 9.725, Hilton 9.55, Harrison 9.775, Cunningham 9.85, Hedges 9.775, Gross 9.775
BARS: Harrison 9.775, Gross 9.75, Rose 9.7, Shipley 9.675, Morris 9.625, Ciokajlo 9.15
BEAM: Sienkowski 9.7, Mitchell 9.825, Harrison 9.725, Gross 9.75, Morris 9.775, Cunningham 9.8
FLOOR: Hilton 9.7, Sienkowski 9.725, Gross 9.7, Hedges 9.775, Harrison 9.85, Hartley 9.525
All-Around: Harrison 39.125, Gross 38.975