No. 18 Gymnastics Heads to SEC Championship in Jacksonville

March 25, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 18th-ranked University of Kentucky gymnastics team competes at the Southeastern Conference Championship on Saturday at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. First rotations start at 4:05 p.m. ET.

One of the premier collegiate gymnastics meets in the country, the SEC Championship features seven nationally ranked teams, according to GymInfo. Leading the pack is current No. 1 and defending SEC champion Alabama with a 197.195 regional qualifying score. Fourth-ranked Florida (196.850), No. 5 Georgia (196.690), No. 8 Arkansas (196.510) and No .10 LSU (196.415) give the SEC five schools in the top 10 rankings. Auburn, listed at No. 15 (195.975), joins Kentucky in the top 20 rankings.

"We're excited to be competing in an arena with the best team in the country," UK head Coach Mo Mitchell said. "We feel we belong, and we're anxious to compete and show it. It should be an exciting competition. I don't think any one team will run away with it."

Kentucky (7-7) hopes to build on its 195.600 RQS. The Wildcats have been ranked among the nation's top 25 for 11 consecutive weeks, their longest stretch since 1998. UK is 13th on the floor exercise (49.145), 16th on the vault (49.105), 18th on the uneven bars (48.980) and 24th on the balance beam (48.665).

Sophomore Whitney Rose (Frisco, Texas) leads Kentucky's effort on the vault, ranking tied for 13th in the nation with a 9.900 RQS. Seniors Emily Green (Penfield, N.Y.) and Hillary Ferguson (Richmond, Ky.) lead a strong group of floor exercise performers. Green and Ferguson are tied for 37th place nationally with a 9.870 RQS.

The Wildcats are coming off a 196.650-195.275 setback at then-No. 9 Oregon State on March 19. UK set a season-high team score on the balance beam with a 48.925 to win the event, but the Beavers won the other three events plus the all-around to claim the win.

The NCAA will announce Monday the 36 teams that qualify for the 2010 NCAA Gymnastics Championships. Kentucky will play host to the NCAA Central Regional Championships on April 10 at Memorial Coliseum. Six qualifying teams will compete in Lexington. For ticket information, please contact the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS. The top two teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship finals in Gainesville, Fla., April 22-24.