Gymnastics Opens 30th Season with 2011 Excite Night

Jan. 6, 2011

Cat Scratches: Gymnastics team rallying around assistant coaches Dickerson, Hite

LEXINGTON, Ky. - After months of preparation and training the 24th-ranked University of Kentucky gymnastics team is prepared to start the 2011 season off on the right foot, hosting No. 17 Illinois and Northern Illinois for a tri-meet at Excite Night on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum.

"We are ready to get things going," assistant coach Heather Hite said. "Excite Night is always one of the best shows of the year and this year should be no different. There will be a lot of new faces for us this year but I look for this team to be as strong and competitive as ever."

This year's event, which is being called "Excite Night...and all that jazz!", will feature Cabaret-themed performances from the hit musical Chicago and is sure to entertain fans of all ages. Numerous UK prizes will be given away throughout the evening and the entire team will sign autographs following the meet. Memorial Coliseum doors will open at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Kentucky brings back a total of eight letter winners from last year's squad that peaked at No. 12 in the rankings. One of the star returners will be junior Whitney Rose, who qualified for nationals as an individual on vault and senior Andrea Mitchell who participated on all four events last season in all 13 meets.

Kentucky has a total of 15 athletes on its 2011 roster, including four seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and seven freshmen. All gymnasts are expected to be able to compete for spots in a number of events, however the upperclassman will fill a majority of the spots early in the season.

"We have made it very clear that the upperclassmen are going to have to really be vocal this year and lead by example," Hite said. "So far, I have been pleased with the upperclassmen's work ethic, determination and leadership to make not only themselves better but this team better. I can't say enough how proud I am of the attitude that our seniors and our team captains Whitney Rose and Storey Morris have brought to the gym."

UK will have a tough test coming out of the gate in 2011. The Fighting Illini return nine letter winners from last year's team that finished third in the NCAA Central Regional and sixth in the Big Ten. NIU returns 11 letter winners from 2010's team that posted a 13-10 record and finished fourth in the Mid-American Conference.

"Illinois and Northern Illinois are two great teams to start the year with," assistant coach Chuck Dickerson said. "Illinois has a lot of gymnasts that are coming back from last year's team, which performed well here at the NCAA Regional. I expect both Illinois and NIU to be very well coached and competitive."

Season tickets are available for only $15 for five exciting home meets. Season and single meet tickets can be purchased by calling the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS. Tickets are also sold at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office on the night of the event. Group tickets (20 or more people) are available by calling the ticket office in advance of the event.

Parking will be available in all lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum for Excite Night, including the Memorial Coliseum lot, Joe Craft Center lot, Martin Luther King lot and the UK student center lot. Parking within Parking Structure No. 5, located behind Kennedy's bookstore, is also available free of charge.

For complete coverage of Kentucky gymnastics, please visit www.ukathletics.com or follow "UKGymnastics" on Facebook and Twitter.

Excite Night Promo Video