Waltz Qualifies for NCAA Championships as UK Sixth at Regionals
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Freshman Sydney Waltz became the first UK gymnast to qualify for the NCAA National Championships in the all-around since 2002 as the Kentucky gymnastics team recorded the third-highest regional score in team history on Saturday at the NCAA Regional Championships.
UK recorded a 195.450 to finish sixth overall. It marked the third consecutive season the Wildcats notched a 195.000 or higher after they had eclipsed 195.000 just twice in program history before 2012, when UK head coach Tim Garrison arrived in Lexington.
Waltz finished fifth in the all-around with a 39.125 and earned a spot at the NCAA Championships when she placed second among gymnasts who were not a member of the regional's top two teams. The Findlay, Ohio, native becomes the 11th Wildcat to qualify for the national championships and the first all-arounder since Aronda Primault in 2002. Waltz will compete at the three-day NCAA Championships April 17-19 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Waltz led UK on two events in addition to the all-around. In her first career NCAA Regional appearance, Waltz opened with a UK-best 9.800 on vault. The freshman closed with a team-high-tying 9.850 on floor. Waltz also scored a 9.750 on uneven bars and a 9.725 on balance beam. Her 39.125 came in just her fourth all-around appearance of her career.
It was a pair of seniors, in their final meet as Wildcats, that led UK on uneven bars and balance beam. In her final event of her career, Kayla Hartley led UK on bars with a season-high 9.850, tied for the fourth-highest score at the NCAA Regionals. Fellow senior Shannon Mitchell's 9.850 was a team best on beam. On floor, Waltz shared team-high honors with sophomore Taylor Puryear.
Kentucky, making its school record 11th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, opened on vault with a 48.550. After a bye, the Wildcats followed with a 49.050 on uneven bars, the second highest total on the event this season. UK recorded a 48.850 before closing on floor with a 49.000.
UK closed the season as a team after it earned its 27th NCAA Regional berth in program history.
Junior Marissa Beucler joined Waltz in all-around competition and recorded a 38.925.
Kentucky opened with a 48.550 on vault. Waltz led with a 9.800, which followed Mitchell's 9.750. Beucler also added a 9.750, while freshman Brittany Furuyama recorded a 9.650. Junior Tiara Phipps and Hartley both scored a 9.600.
After a bye in the second rotation, UK came out with a bang on uneven bars. The 49.050 is the second highest score on the event this season. The rotation was highlighted by Hartley's season-high 9.850 in her final event of her collegiate career. Junior Amy Roemmele led off with a 9.825 and freshman Cori Rechenmacher competed fifth and also earned a 9.825. Freshman Katie Carlisle earned a 9.800 in her first NCAA appearance, and Waltz and Beucler both notched a 9.750.
The Wildcats earned a 48.850 on beam. Mitchell capped the rotation with a team-high 9.850, and junior Montana Whittle scored a 9.800. Carlisle posted a 9.750 as Beucler, who led off, and Waltz each recorded a 9.725.
UK closed the meet on floor after its final bye of the meet. The Wildcats posted a 49.000 the fifth consecutive week they scored a 49.000 or higher on the apparatus. Puryear and Waltz's team-high 9.850 came fifth and sixth in the rotation, respectively. Phipps and Mitchell each recorded a 9.800 as Beucler capped her second career all-around appearance with a 9.700.
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