UK Gymnastics Ranked No. 24 in Preseason Coaches' Poll
Dec. 2, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Returning eight lettermen from last year, including 2010 NCAA Championship qualifier Whitney Rose and all-around performer Andrea Mitchell, the 2011 Kentucky gymnastics team has been tabbed at No. 24 in the preseason GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll.
"Being ranked 24th is not a bad place to start," assistant coach Chuck Dickerson said. "Last year, we were not listed in the preseason rankings but we finished the year at No. 21. This year, we are going to slowly start chopping that tree and work all way up the rankings to where we want to be."
The preseason ranking is the first for the Wildcats since being ranked No. 25 two years ago in 2009 and the best preseason mark for Kentucky since being tabbed No. 24 in 2008. According to records kept since 1998, the best preseason ranking in school history is No. 22 in 2007. The preseason ranking marks the 14th consecutive week that Kentucky has been ranked, which ties the second longest streak in school history. Kentucky was previously ranked 14 straight weeks from April 19, 2001 to April 8, 2002. The school record for consecutive weeks ranked is 24 from Feb. 28, 2005 to Feb 12, 2007.
"I think that it speaks volumes for our upperclassmen and what they are all about that the coaches voted us in the preseason top 25," Dickerson said. "We have faith in what they can do and have done, and I think the other coaches across the country see that as well. It also bodes well for our incoming freshmen and their ability to get the job done. This is a good start."
Kentucky returns several key components from last year's squad that ended the season at No. 21 in the final GymInfo rankings, including seniors Mitchell, Jasmine Minion, Phylicia Reshard and Colleen Williams. Mitchell had her best season as a collegiate gymnast in 2010, posting high averages on all four events and winning three all-around titles, while Minion posted a career high on floor exercise and an impressive 9.800 average on floor throughout the season. Reshard participated in floor and vault in all 15 Kentucky meets, posting a career-high score on vault. Williams did not compete in 2010 due to injury but scored a 9.700 on vault in every meet as a sophomore.
UK also returns Rose, who was the first UK gymnast to advance to the NCAA Championships since 2006, and fellow junior Storey Morris. Rose tied for 16th at the NCAA Championships on vault with a score of 9.850 to wrap up an impressive season where she posted career highs in vault and uneven bars. Morris also performed well in 2010 for Kentucky, setting career highs on beam and uneven bars, claiming three medalist honors on bars and two first-place finishes on beam.
The Wildcats are full of underclassman talent, including seven newcomers and two sophomores that return from last year in Caitlyn Ciokajlo and Caitlin Satkowiak. Ciokajlo performed in every event last year but did her best work on uneven bars where she posted a season-high score of 9.850 and an average of 9.642. Satkowiak did not compete due to injuries.
UCLA, Alabama and Florida fill the top three spots in the preseason poll, respectively. In all, Kentucky will face eight teams that are ranked in the preseason top 25, including all six Southeastern Conference foes No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida, No. 7 Georgia, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 12 LSU and No. 15 Auburn. UK will also face No. 17 Illinois at Excite Night on Jan. 8, and No. 10 Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Feb. 27.