Season-High's by Seniors Push Wildcats to Win During Senior Finale

Feb. 27, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky's win during Senior Night meant so much more than the "w" it earned. Three of Kentucky's senior's were given a farewell like no other as junior Hillary Ferguson did what she does best for her team despite injury. The No. 28 Wildcat gymnastics team's (6-6 overall, 0-6 conference) season-high 195.250 defeated No. 36 North Carolina (12-9) 195.250-194.825, while also upsetting No. 15 Illinois' (13-7) 194.200 and defeating No. 48 Ball State's (2-8) 193.350 and William & Mary's (2-17) 188.750.

"Tonight was amazing," senior Bridget Carreiro said. "People stepped up and we did what we needed to do. We've had a rough week and season thus far and today we really stepped it up. I think we'll keep the momentum going into the rest of the season. Everyone did amazing and it was a great senior night."

The Cats started the night strong on vault with a 49.000. Junior Emily Green anchored the Blue and White on the event with a 9,875, just shy of her season high mark. Green also took the event title which gives the Penfield, N.Y., native her 14th career and third season title. Sophomore Jasmine Minion was not far behind hitting a 9.850. Neither Green nor Minion has scored below a 9.800 throughout the whole season, averaging a 9.847 and 9.837, respectively, which leads the team.

After the first rotation, the Wildcats were ahead with UNC close behind after a 48.925 on beam and Illinois'48.700 on the uneven bars. Kentucky sat out the second rotation with a bye prior to the uneven bars.

As UK took to the bars, the Tar Heels went to the floor exercise and the Fighting Illini headed to beam. Ferguson and freshman Storey Morris kicked off the event for the Cats, each recording 9.775's. Morris tied her career-high, a mark she has earned in two of the last three meets. Sophomore Colleen William's made her season-debut on the bars registering a 9.750. Topping off the uneven bars was Hollywood, Fla., native senior Natalie Rubinstein. As the comeback performer of the season, she led UK for the seventh time this season and earned just her second career title with a season-high 9.875 on the event.

The Cats continued to lead at the halfway point, 97.925 to North Carolina's 97.725.

Three Wildcats recorded season-highs on the balance beam, including one career mark. Seniors Carreiro and Heather Hite stood strong for the squad through the apparatus. Carreiro, a native of Lexington, grabbed a career-high 9.800 during her final meet in Memorial Coliseum just after Green notched a season-high 9.775. Taking the event title and nabbing a season-high was Hite with a 9.900. Hite leads the team on the event and captures her 23rd title and 13th career top-honor on the beam.

"I just want to thank my teammates because I don't do all four events," senior captain Hite reflected. "I was able to go out on a high note because of my scores, but more importantly I've had such a great time all four years because of the team."

North Carolina took the lead after three events, 146.750-146.200, when they scored a 49.025 on vault. But Kentucky would head to the floor exercise, the team's best apparatus while UNC took to the bars.

During the three-minute touch warm-up, Ferguson sustained an injury and sat on the sidelines with obvious tears and pain as the Cats watched and held their breath. Five Kentucky gymnasts went ahead of the Richmond, Ky., native. Sophomore Phylicia Reshard made her first floor exercise appearance, scoring a 9.725. Green tied her season-high with a 9.825 followed by Minion's 9.850 good for second place. Hite went on to tie her teammates score with another 9.850.

Kentucky sat over half a point behind North Carolina and needed all the scores they could get. In a true Blue and White effort, Ferguson took to the floor for the final routine. She hit each tumbling pass, one after the other, as if all the pain had escaped. When she was done, there were tears instead of smiles as the discomfort came rushing back. In the end, Ferguson earned a 9.800, good enough to help give the Wildcats the push they needed to win.

"There was so much fight and so much heart tonight," senior Rubinstein stated." I want to thank my teammates for leaving it all out on the floor for the best senior night I could have ever asked for. I love this team!"
Kentucky continues to hold an undefeated record 14-0, against non-conference teams in the regular season dating back to March 7, 2008 when the Blue and White knocked upset Arizona and Western Michigan during the 2008 Senior Night.

"We still have some work to do," head coach Mo Mitchell said. "We didn't do what we needed to on beam, but I'm proud of how hard they fought and showed compassion. I'm proud of Hillary for showing a lot of heart and commitment and for fighting for the team and going on the floor hurt."

The Wildcats will hit the road for a Sunday meet at No. 20 West Virginia (7-6) in Morgantown, W. Va. The meet is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. ET.