UK Beats Second Consecutive Ranked Team in Senior Night Win
March 7, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky gymnastics team sent its seniors out in style with another win over a ranked opponent with a 196.150 to defeat No. 22 California and Centenary Friday night in Memorial Coliseum.
The second consecutive score of 196.000 or higher for the Wildcats come in the home finale and resulted in an upset win over a ranked team in back-to-back meets. California placed second with a 196.075, while Centenary was third with a 189.625. UK won three individual events along with senior Audrey Harrison's win in the all-around.
"I thought we started strong on vault," UK head coach Tim Garrison said. "We did decent on bars and I thought we hung in there on beam. We could have done better, but we hung in there and on floor closing out the night I thought we had a great performance once again. It seems we have gotten to the point where floor is rock-solid. We have the capability to score 49.400-49.600 every week on floor."
Kentucky once again put together a performance that will live in the UK record books. Last week, UK set the program record floor score, and the Wildcats followed it up with a 49.425, the third-highest total in school history and the highest floor score among the three teams Friday night. UK's vault score of 49.275 is a season best and tied for seventh best all-time. Kentucky added a 48.900 on bars and a 48.550 on beam, tied for the meet best.
In addition to her all-around win with a season-best 39.325, Harrison won floor with a 9.900, an honor she shared with freshman Taylor Puryear. Senior Kayla Sienkowski also went out with a bang in her final home meet with a win on balance beam with a season-best 9.825 for her first career event title. Junior Kenzie Hedges tied for the vault title with a career-best 9.925, her first event title of the season.
"I thought tonight was a great competition and it ended the way a great meet should," Garrison said. "It came down to the last competitor on the last event. That's what I'm excited for is the fact that we hung in to the last person and pulled it out at the end with tough competition."
UK led the meet after the first and second rotation, but found itself trailing by just 0.025 points going into the last event, floor. With Cal's final rotation complete with a 49.325 on vault, redshirt junior Kayla Hartley stepped on the floor needing a 9.800 or higher to secure UK's sixth home win of the season. Hartley, who has anchored on the event all year for the Wildcats, answered with a 9.875 to send the seniors out with the victory.
Junior Shelby Hilton started on floor with a 9.875, followed by Puryear's 9.900. After sophomore Tiara Phipps scored a 9.700, the trio of Hedges, Harrison and Hartley closed it out. Hedges notched a 9.875, followed by Harrison's 9.900 and Hartley's 9.875-clincher.
A week after the Wildcats notched the 15th-best vault score in team history, UK topped it with a 49.275 Friday night to open the meet, tied for the seventh-best score in program history. Kentucky was led by Hedges' career-best 9.925, while Kayla Hartley also scored a career high, with a 9.825.
Harrison opened with a 9.850, followed by Hilton's season-high-tying 9.800. After Hedges and Hartley, senior Holly Cunningham closed with a 9.875.
With a 0.225-point lead over Cal, the Wildcats moved to beam and extended its lead, thanks to a 48.900 on the apparatus.
Kentucky used a balanced, consistent performance to produce its third-highest bars score of the season. The seniors, Sienkowski and Harrison, led UK with a 9.850 and a 9.825, respectively. Sophomore Amy Roemmele and Hartley each added a 9.750 while Hilton recorded a 9.725.
UK scored a 48.550 on beam, led by Sienkowski's season-best 9.825. Junior Shannon Mitchell added a 9.800, while Harrison scored a 9.750. Roemmele notched a 9.625, while sophomore Marissa Beucler posted a 9.550.
After the meet, UK's seniors were honored. In their four years, the trio of Cunningham, Harrison and Sienkowski have all put their names in the UK record books and have helped UK record the top three team scores in program history, along the best score in team history on all four events.
"I think as you go through and you have four years of competitive experience, you change the program," Garrison said of this year's seniors. "Our program has changed in many ways, with this batch of seniors going through. They're all great in their own way, they all bring different elements to this team and University. We are proud of all of them."
UK travels to LSU for its final regular season contest on March 14. The Wildcats and Tigers square off at 8 p.m. a week before the SEC Championship in Birmingham, Ala.
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