No. 24 UK Closes Regular Season at Top-Ranked LSU

March 13, 2014

NO. 24 UK AT NO. 1 LSU
Friday, March 14, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Maravich Center, Baton Rouge, La.
Live Video : | Live Results :
Meet Info: Meet Notes
Additional Info: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 24 University of Kentucky gymnastics team closes the regular season at No. 1 LSU Friday at 8 p.m. ET in Baton Rouge, La. The matchup against the nation’s top-ranked team marks the second time UK has faced the nation’s No. 1 team and the eighth time the Wildcats have faced a squad ranked in the top eight.

A live video stream and live results from LSU’s Maravich Center will be available on The regular season finale will be broadcast by Cox Sports Television and air on March 23 at 9 p.m. ET on CST, with Lyn Rollins and Ashley Lee on the call. Live updates can also be found on Twitter at @UKgymnastics.

Friday’s meet marks the second meeting between the Wildcats and Tigers in 2014. UK and LSU joined Oklahoma and Arizona in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 15 at the Metroplex Challenge. UK finished fourth with a 194.850, while then-No. 3 LSU placed second with a 197.875, a school record at the time. No. 2 OU won with a 198.175.

Kentucky, 9-9 on the season and 2-4 in SEC competition, is coming off back-to-back home meets where the Wildcats scored a 196.000 or higher and upset ranked teams in both contests. After a season-best 196.275 to beat No. 11 Auburn on Feb. 28, the Wildcats downed No. 22 California and Centenary with a 196.150 on March 7 for a Senior Night victory.

LSU is 9-3 and 4-2 in the SEC. The Tigers have won two consecutive meets, both at home, with a 198.050-194.825 win over Missouri on Feb. 28 before a 197.500-195.525 victory over No. 25 North Carolina State on March 7. LSU’s 198.050 marked the first time in school history the team had eclipsed the 198.000 mark. LSU has been in the top spot in the rankings for three consecutive weeks.

In the rankings, the Wildcats are 24th nationally with a 195.585 Regional Qualifying Score. UK boasts top-21 rankings on both floor and vault. Kentucky is 16th on floor with a 49.140 RQS and 21st on vault with a 49.075. UK also is 28th on bars with a 48.895 RQS and 39th on beam with a 48.565.

Along with the nation’s top overall ranking, the Tigers are in the top five on each event, including No. 1 on vault with a 49.545 Regional Qualifying Score. LSU is also third on beam and floor and fifth on uneven bars.

Through eight weeks of competition, the Wildcats are ranked 16h nationally on floor with a 49.113 average, including a UK-record 49.650 two weeks ago vs. No. 11 Auburn. Seven of UK’s 12 best team scores have come on floor, with five consecutive and seven of the last eight scores of 49.000 or higher.

In Feb. 28’s upset win over Auburn, the Wildcats closed with a school-record 49.650 on floor. The third-highest floor score in the country at the time, Kentucky counted five scores of 9.925 or higher. Led by senior Audrey Harrison’s 9.950, juniors Shelby Hilton, Kenzie Hedges and Kayla Hartley and freshman Taylor Puryear all recorded a 9.925. UK became the third team this season to have five scores of 9.925 or higher in one meet.

Kentucky recorded a 49.125 at Missouri, followed by a 49.000 at Georgia and a 49.025 against Florida. In all three meets, it was a consistent effort from the Wildcats that resulted in the high totals. At Mizzou, all six UK gymnasts scored a 9.700 or higher, while all five Wildcats to score at UGA and against Florida each posted at least a 9.775.

The Wildcats and Tigers previously met on Feb. 15, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the four-team Metroplex Challenge. Competing against three teams ranked in the top 17, including two of the nation’s top three teams, Kentucky placed fourth with a 194.850, while LSU was second with a then-school-record 197.875. No. 2 Oklahoma won the event, while No. 17 Arizona was third.

For the second consecutive meet, UK posted a 49.000 or higher on two events, with a 49.050 on uneven bars and also a 49.050 on floor to begin the competition. The Wildcats added a 48.650 on vault and a 48.100 on balance beam. Eight individual season or career highs were set or tied, including two career-bests set by sophomore Amy Roemmele on uneven bars and balance beam. Senior Audrey Harrison competed in the all-around for the sixth time in 2014 and scored a 38.425.

Postseason competition begins for the Wildcats at the Southeastern Conference Championship in Birmingham, Ala. The SEC’s eight teams will be split into two sessions, at 3 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET. Seeding will be announced on March 17.

Kentucky sent its seniors out in style with another win over a ranked opponent with a 196.150 to defeat No. 22 California and Centenary on March 7 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.

Last week, UK set the program record floor score, and the Wildcats followed it up with a 49.425 Friday, 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 high.

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.

Phipps Named to SEC Community Service Team
Sophomore Tiara Phipps was named to the 2014 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team. It is Phipps’ first Community Service Team honor.

Phipps’ community service work is highlighted by a mission trip with 10 other UK student-athletes to Ethiopia last summer. During the week-long trip, they repainted schools, helped build houses, supplied families with mosquito nets along with interacting with several communities.

The San Antonio, Texas, native also has volunteered with Hope for Haiti, packed meals at Southland Christian Church, assisted with the UK Blanked Project and packed backpacks for the Back Pack Program this season.

In UK’s four home meets this season, the Wildcats averaged 3,265 fans in Memorial Coliseum. The average marks the best home attendance for UK since at least the 1998 season, when records became available. Since 1998, the Wildcats have never averaged more than 3,000 fans.

As Kentucky beat three teams to win its season-opener on Jan. 10, it did so in front of one of the largest crowds in UK gymnastics history. A crowd of 5,839 witnessed the Excite Night victory, which marked the largest since 2007, when 6,875 were in attendance. It also marked the third-largest UK home crowd since at least 1997.

Kentucky recorded the fifth-highest team score in program history to upset 11th-ranked Auburn on Feb. 28 in Memorial Coliseum, 196.275-194.825. The Wildcats’ program-record 49.650 on floor was one of three season-best team scores, all which resulted in event titles for the Wildcats. Kentucky’s team score was also the second-best at home in UK history after a 196.375 last season.

Kentucky’s floor score also was the third-highest in the country this year as the Wildcats improved to 5-1 against Auburn in the past three seasons, all under head coach Tim Garrison. UK has won four consecutive regular season meets against AU.

Along with a school-record 49.650 on floor, UK posted a 49.175 on uneven bars, tied for the seventh-best in team history. Kentucky’s vault score of 49.200 to open the night is tied for the 15th best in the UK record books.

The Wildcats added 12 season or career bests in the victory as Kentucky won four individual events. Individually, Kentucky tallied the top five scores on floor, all with a 9.925 or higher and all career-high scores. Senior Audrey Harrison scored a career-best 9.950, while redshirt junior Kayla Hartley, juniors Shelby Hilton and Kenzie Hedges and freshman Taylor Puryear all scored a 9.925. UK posted the top two scores on balance beam, led by Harrison’s 9.925. Junior Shannon Mitchell tied for the vault title with a career-high-tying 9.900, while Hartley tied for the uneven bars title, also with a 9.900.