Kentucky Hits A Program Top-Five Vault Score at SEC's

March 21, 2009

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 22 Kentucky gymnastics team earned a top-five program vault score of 49.225 with no mark below a 9.800 at the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championships Saturday evening in Nashville, Tenn. Taking the top prize of the championship title was the Alabama Crimson Tide with a total of 197.300. Fox Sports South will be televising a delayed version of the championship meet on Saturday, March 28 at 7 p.m. ET.

The SEC is widely argued gymnastics top conference in the NCAA with all schools in the nation's top 25. With tough competition and tough judging, the night was filled with excitement.

"Tonight was definitely an improvement from last year," head coach Mo Mitchell said. "We still lacked a bit of confidence on beam and we made some careless mistakes on floor. But as a team I think we are heading in the direction we need to be going into Regional's. We still have good chance to go to the Big Dance at the end of the year."

UK's best event came at the end of the evening when they took to vault. One of the program's best totals was earned with two career highs and no score below a 9.800, tying the team's season-high 49.225. The score is the best in head coach Mo Mitchell's career, which he earned three times this year.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 15 and have three ranked gymnasts on the apparatus with No. 24 Green, No. 33 sophomore Jasmine Minion and No. 36 freshman Whitney Rose. First up for the Cats were sophomores Phylicia Reshard and Colleen Williams. Both earned marks of 9.800 which was a career best mark for each gymnast. Junior Hillary Ferguson followed with a 9.825 and freshman Whitney Rose posted a 9.850. Sophomore Jasmine Minion earned a 9.875. She has not scored below a 9.800 all season and nothing below a 9.825 ten times. Junior Emily Green also earned a 9.875, now hitting a score of 9.850 eight times. She joined an elite group of four other gymnasts at UK after nailing a career best 9.950 this season against Alaska-Anchorage.

With such impressive scoring, the Cats have broken the team's Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) record on vault. After averaging a vault of 49.037, UK now registers an RQS of 49.115 on the vault.

After the first rotation, only four schools had taken to events. Florida currently led with a vault score of 49.200 following by LSU's on floor. Kentucky scored half a tenth higher than the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs' 48.600 on beam after they were forced to count falls.

The Wildcats started on the uneven bars, improving their score from last season with a 48.650, led by senior Natalie Rubinstein's and junior Jamie Reimann's scores of 9.775. This was the first SEC Championship Rubinstein had competed in due to rehabilitation from injuries, including an elbow incident during the three-minute touch on bars at the 2006 championship meet.

The Wildcats went straight to the beam following bars. Senior Heather Hite earned team top honors for the 12th straight time with a 9.750. But due to a few wobbles, UK scored a 48.300. The balance beam seemed to be a sore spot for teams, as three totaled below a 49.000, including Georgia and Auburn.

Kentucky headed to floor after its second bye. The Cats had one of their second best performances of the night which was anchored by Hite and Green who each nailed a 9.875, a season-high for Green.

The Blue and White will await final word of its location for the NCAA Regional competition which takes place on Saturday, April 4. Kentucky will compete with five other schools for a ticket to Nationals.

Final Team Results
1. Alabama - 197.300
2. Georgia - 196.925
3. Florida - 196.750
4. LSU - 196.550
5. Auburn - 196.350
6. Arkansas - 195.650
7. Kentucky - 195.000