By Jacob Most
Feb. 21, 2014 -
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Shannon Mitchell’s career-best performance helped the Kentucky gymnastics team tally its highest score of the season, 195.975 in a loss at 13th-ranked Arkansas (197.1) on Friday,
The Wildcats (4-8, 1-4 SEC) required Mitchell to produce some late heroics to obtain the strong score on the road inside Barnhill Arena.
“I think we had a decent day,” head coach Tim Garrison said. “The biggest thing was obviously we didn’t beat Arkansas tonight, which was our main goal coming in. We also didn’t beat ourselves, which we’ve struggled with this year. We were excited to get a strong meet under our belts, and we’re looking forward another great competition on Sunday.”
Having already notched a career-high 9.9 with a stuck-landing on vault, Mitchell anchored on beam and again came through in the clutch.
After three rotations and with just one Wildcat remaining to compete on balance beam, UK had tallied a score of 195.375, which would have been .75 points short of the team’s best this season.
Mitchell nailed her beam routine though, ensuring the Wildcats began their only two-meet weekend on a high note.
“I was very proud of Shannon Mitchell, she had two career-high scores tonight,” Garrison said. “She did a really good job on vault, stuck that landing, and we needed her to come through on beam -- last up in the lineup in the anchor spot – she came through and got another 9.9.”
The Wildcats began the meet on uneven bars with a 48.85 on the back of a leadoff 9.825 from Amy Roemmele, while Kayla Hartley tied her season-best with a 9.8, a score also obtained by Kayla Sienkowski. Marrissa Beucler started her gritty performance with a 9.725, while Shelby Hilton got a 9.7.
UK was led on vault by Mitchell’s 9.9, after Holly Cunningham had started UK with a 9.8, Audrey Harrison recovered from a tough bars routine with a 9.825 and Shelby Hilton went 9.75, a score which was dropped in favor after Kenzie Hedges went 9.875.
Mitchell’s vault was the highest score on the apparatus by a Wildcat this season, and tied the fifth-highest vault score in school history.
Through two rotations, Arkansas led 98.375-98.
On floor exercise, Taylor Puryear notched a career-high 9.825 out of the two-spot, while Harrison and closed the rotation with 9.85s. Kenzie Hedges and Tiara Phipps each scored a 9.775.
Going into the final rotation, Arkansas led 147.65-146.9.
Anchored by Mitchell’s 9.9, Uk scored a season-high 48.9 on beam as Holly Cunningham completed a solid night with a 9.825. Amy Roemmelle scored a 9.75, while Marrissa Beucler battled to stay on the beam and scored a 9.65.
Kentucky will now compete twice in one weekend for the only time this season, as the Wildcats will travel to Lincoln, Neb., for a Sunday quad-meet against No. 8 Nebraska, Bridgeport and Wisconsin-Stout at 3 p.m. ET.