No. 22 Kentucky Gets Ready for SEC Championships

March 20, 2009

Promo Video for the SEC Championships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 22 Kentucky gymnastics team (8-8 overall, 0-6 Southeastern Conference) will go head-to-head with the six other Southeastern Conference teams at the SEC Gymnastics Championships. This year's meet will be hosted at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, March 21. The first three-minute touch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. ET.

The Competition Draw will be on Friday, March 20 in between practice sessions, beginning at 3:50 p.m. ET. Teams will be assigned their event rotations during the draw through random selection.

Prior to the draw, Kentucky will hit the floor in the first practice session of the afternoon at 2 p.m. ET. Accompanying
the Cats will be LSU and Auburn.

All seven of the SEC schools are ranked in the top 25 with the Georgia Bulldogs leading the pack at No. 1. Four other schools join UGA in the top 10, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Florida and No. 9 Arkansas. The Auburn Tigers come in at No. 11.

"The Southeastern Conference is the toughest conference in the NCAA," head coach Mo Mitchell said. "I think our team is looking for some redemption.  We feel like we gave away a couple meets this year in the SEC because we didn't do what we were supposed to at our competitions."

Last season at the SEC's the Wildcats earned a 194.025, the best mark since 2003 when the Cats registered a 194.875 tying with Arkansas for sixth. Overall, the program's best performance was in 2001 as they finished fifth with a 195.850 but the team's best finish was fourth in 1996 with a 195.250. Kentucky has nine individual SEC championships, two SEC Athlete of the Year Awards and two SEC Freshman of the Year Awards.

UK is coming off of an historic weekend for the program. They recorded a season-high 196.225 against Alaska-Anchorage, a team total which ranks top three in school annals. The Cats also earned a 49.300 on the balance beam, another season-high and the second best total in the program's history. Kentucky's gymnasts have seemed to hit their stride at the right time, as nine of 10 titles went to the Blue and White while season and career highs were earned on every event.

"We're starting to put things together at the right time," Mitchell state. "At SEC's our goal is to go 24-for-24 and we're hoping that our performance at the championship proves not only that we're a team that belongs in the conference, but it moves us up in the rankings as well. Right now we're No. 22 coming into the championship and we feel we can be one of the seeded team going into NCAA Regionals. If we do the job that we're supposed to do and capable of doing, we can accomplish those things."

Five individuals registered scores of a 9.900 or better. The first to do so was freshman Whitney Rose on the vault with a personal best mark of 9.925. Two more high marks were earned on beam with seniors Bridget Carreiro and Heather Hite. Carreiro grabbed a career-high 9.900 just before Hite took a season-best 9.925. The following day, junior Emily Green recorded a career-high 9.950, joining an elite group of four other gymnasts to earn a 9.950 or better on the vault for UK. Senior Natalie Rubinstein tied her career mark of 9.900 on the uneven bars while Hite again earned a 9.900 on beam.

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. Kentucky ranks No. 15 on the apparatus as well as being top 25 on all other events, No. 22 on bars, No. 25 on beam and No. 17 on floor. Last year, UK broke its overall and floor RQS scores with final numbers of 195.395 and 49.160, respectively.

A score of 196.225 or better will help the Wildcats' rankings as they head into NCAA Regional competition. If the Cats can jump into the top 18, they will be seeded and can compete at any regional site.

Live scoring and complete coverage of the 2009 SEC Gymnastics Championships can be found at www.secsports.com.