No. 25 Gymnastics Opens Postseason at SEC Championships
DULUTH, Ga. -- The No. 25 Kentucky gymnastics team begins the postseason at the SEC Championships in Duluth, Ga., on Saturday, March 21. The Wildcats are seeded seventh and will compete in the first session, at 2 p.m. ET in The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
SEC Championships Session I
Saturday, March 21 - 2 p.m. ET
Arena at Gwinnett Center
UK Info: Meet Notes (PDF)
Meet Info: Championship Central
TV: SEC Network+
Live Results: SECsports.com
Text Updates: Subscribe
Both sessions of the SEC Championships will air live on the SEC Network +, and the meet will re-air on ESPNU on March 24 at 5:30 p.m. ET. Live results can be found on SECsports.com, while additional notes and behind-the-scenes updates from Duluth will be available on Twitter at @UKGymnastics.
UK is joined in the first session by No. 9 Georgia, No. 18 Arkansas and Missouri. Florida, LSU, Alabama and Auburn, the top four seeds and all ranked in the top eight nationally, comprise the second session and will compete at 7 p.m. ET. Seeding was determined based on teams' final regular-season RQS.
Kentucky enters the postseason with a 7-5 record. One of just four SEC schools to record at least seven wins, the Wildcats posted a 3-4 mark in SEC competition to tie for fourth in the final standings. The three conference wins are tied for the most in program history, after the Wildcats also posted three wins in 2013. UK's 2014 schedule, labelled the toughest in the nation entering the year, featured eight ranked opponents.
IN THE RANKINGS
In addition to a regional qualifying score of 195.725 that is the second highest in program history, No. 25 UK is ranked in the top 25 on beam and ranked in the top 27 on three events. Kentucky's balance beam RQS of 48.985 is 19th, while the Wildcats are 27th on both floor (49.070) and bars (48.940). UK is also No. 34 on vault with a 48.960 RQS.
Seven SEC teams are ranked in the top 25, led by defending-national champion Florida at No. 2 with a 197.750 RQS. LSU is third with a 197.630, while Alabama is fifth with a 197.425. Auburn is eighth with a 197.025 RQS. All four teams competing in the second session are also ranked in the top 11 on all four events.
Joining the Wildcats in the championships' first session is No. 9 Georgia, with a 196.875 RQS and No. 18 Arkansas, with a 196.275. Mizzou, with a 195.635 RQS, is 27th in the national standings.
Eight of UK's 12 regular season opponents are ranked in the top 25, including the top three and four of the top five. The Wildcats have faced ranked teams in all but three meets this year in the regular season. The only four un-ranked opponents at the time they played UK was Washington, which is currently 22nd, and Missouri, which is just outside the top 25 at No. 27, along with Pittsburgh and Ball State.
KENTUCKY VS. THE SEC IN 2015
Kentucky finished its SEC schedule with a 3-4 record, with wins over No. 9 Auburn, No. 14 Arkansas and at Missouri. UK's three league wins are tied for the most in team history, after UK also posted a 3-3-1 mark in the SEC in 2013.
UK's four losses all came to higher-ranked teams, including two meets against top-three teams, vs. No. 3 LSU and at No. 2 Florida. All but one of Kentucky's seven league meets came against ranked opponents, while Missouri was No. 33 at the time the Tigers hosted the Wildcats.
LAST YEAR AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
Kentucky scored a 195.075 to finish second in its session and sixth overall at the 2014 SEC Gymnastics Championship. UK finished behind No. 12 Auburn's 195.550 and ahead of No. 15 Arkansas and Missouri in the first session. No. 4 Alabama won the meet with a 197.875, followed by No. 1 Florida with a 197.700. Among the eight teams, UK finished sixth overall, the Wildcats' highest finish since 2012 when they placed fifth out of seven.
The Wildcats led the first session with a 49.175 on vault and a 49.050 on bars. UK notched a 48.825 on beam to open the competition, just 0.050 points shy of a session high. Kentucky also scored a 48.025 on floor. Shannon Mitchell's 9.875 on vault and 9.850 on beam were both team-bests. Audrey Harrison and Taylor Puryear shared team-high honors with a 9.750 on floor, while Kayla Hartley's 9.850 on bars also led UK. Harrison recorded a 39.125 all-around score, the second-highest in the first session at the Championships.
UP NEXT: NCAA SELECTION SHOW
The Wildcats are expected to make their 11th consecutive NCAA Regionals appearance. The NCAA Selection Show will be held on March 23, when UK will find out its postseason destination.
Regionals are held on April 4 at one of six schools. The 2015 hosts are Auburn, Cal, Iowa State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The NCAA Finals, in Fort Worth, Texas, will be April 17-19.
LAST TIME OUT: WILDCATS WIN ON SENIOR NIGHT
A record-setting balance beam performance led Kentucky to a senior night win with a 196.175 to defeat Pittsburgh and Ball State on March 13. The Wildcats eclipsed the 196.000 mark for the second consecutive week, as the 196.175 marked the 10th-highest team score in program history. UK's 49.375 on beam was the second highest in team history, a score highlighted by a pair of 9.925's by Shannon Mitchell and Sydney Waltz.
Mitchell and Waltz combined for the win on floor exercise with a 9.850, along with their event title on beam. Waltz added a career-best 39.400 all-around score to win her first all-around title of her career after she debuted on the event the previous week. Mitchell has now claimed a team-high seven event titles in her senior season, while Waltz has five titles in her inaugural campaign.
After the meet, Garrison and the Wildcats honored UK's four seniors. Kayla Hartley, Shelby Hilton, Shannon Mitchell and Sara Shipley make up one of the most successful classes in program history. The four seniors have left their mark in the UK record book for years to come. They have made the NCAA Regionals every season and have helped UK set the top five scores in program history and broken the school record on two events.
WHITTLE NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
Junior Montana Whittle was named to the 2015 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team. It is the first Community Service Team honor of Whittle's career.
Whittle's 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 Lincoln, Neb., native also participated in several team-wide community service projects, including working with Habitat for Humanity and collecting Halloween costumes for the teams' inaugural Halloween Costume Drive. Whittle helped pack food for the backpack program, and participated in the UK Blanket Project. She is a member of the Dean's List and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.
|Click image for UK's Meet Notes (PDF)
For complete news and updates on the Kentucky Gymnastics program, go to UKathletics.com. Breaking news, behind-the-scenes updates, photos and more can be found on Twitter at @UKGymnastics and Facebook at Facebook.com/UKGymnastics.