GymKats Place Sixth At Southeastern Conference Championship
March 29, 2003
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The University of Kentucky gymnastics team tied for sixth place at the Southeastern Conference Championship on Sat., March 29, at Bartow Arena on the campus of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Defending National Champion Alabama took the 2003 SEC Crown with a score of 197.525, edging out Georgia, the winner of the past two SEC titles, by 0.050 points.
The GymKats tied Arkansas with a score of 194.875. Florida (195.850) placed third, LSU(195.650) was fourth and Auburn came in fifth (195.025). Alabama's Jeana Rice won the all-around with a total of 39.600.
In front of a raucous crowd of 6,322, the GymKats opened the meet on the floor exercise. Sophomore Michelle Gales led Kentucky, scoring a 9.850. Senior Julia Gore's routine scored a 9.775 and the Wildcats would suffer no falls in the event. The remaining GymKats all scored between 9.550 and 9.650 and UK totaled 48.400 points on the event.
After a bye, Kentucky moved to vault, its strongest event during the 2003 regular season. Senior Melanie Zaharias led the Cats, turning in a 9.875. Junior All-American Aronda Primault added a 9.850 and sophomore Lindsay Cameron score 9.800 to push the Cats to a team score of 49.000. Gales and sophomore Kara Prestigiacomo also counted, with the GymKats using nothing below a 9.700 in their vault score for the sixth consecutive meet.
The GymKats carried their vaulting momentum onto the uneven bars, where they would score their second-highest total of the year. Led by a 9.825 from Gore, Kentucky scored 48.800 points. Junior Julie Joy, limited to competing on one event because of an ankle injury, contributed a strong 9.800. Primault and Cameron added scores of 9.750 and 9.725, respectively.
Kentucky final event of the Championship was the balance beam. Senior Karla Adelt led off the rotation for the Cats, scoring a career-high 9.750. All six GymKats successfully landed their routines, leading to a team total of 48.700. Senior Mindy Smith paced the Cats with a 9.775, followed closely by Primault's 9.750. A 9.725 from Gales and a 9.700 from Gore also helped UK's total.
The GymKats will now wait to see if they qualify for the NCAA Central Region Championship. While Kentucky may not advance as a team, at least four GymKats could receive invitations to the meet. All-arounders Gore, Primault and Gales are all strongly in contention, along with Zaharias on vault.
Athletes of the Year: Chelsa Byrd (Georgia) & Jeana Rice (Alabama)