April 5, 2014
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - For the second consecutive season, the University of Kentucky gymnastic team broke the school record NCAA Regional score with a 195.925 to place fourth as senior Audrey Harrison qualified for the NCAA Championships Saturday at Rec Hall in State College, Pa.
UK senior Audrey Harrison capped her record-setting collegiate career by becoming the first Wildcat to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Whitney Rose in 2009. She finished in a tie for first place on beam with a 9.850 and qualifies for the national championship meet in two weeks.
"We had a good showing tonight," UK head coach Tim Garrison said. "We had solid performances on all events, but floor was our strongest by far. Our ultimate goal was to make NCAA's as a team and unfortunately we fell short of that. That said, I do feel that we took another step toward achieving that goal in the future. I'm happy for Audrey, who qualified as an individual on beam. She has had a great career and I'm glad she gets to bring it to a close at the national championships."
The Wildcats set a UK record by 0.350 points a year after a 195.575 broke the previous UK record. No. 1 Florida won the 2014 Regional with a 197.050, while host-Penn State finished second with a 196.725. Both UF and PSU advance to the NCAA Championships, April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala., along with Harrison.
Harrison added an all-around score of 39.300 to place sixth, just shy of an NCAA qualifying score in the event. Sophomore Tiara Phipps finished tied for second on floor with a 9.925, while freshman Taylor Puryear also reached the podium with a 9.900 on floor to tie for fourth.
"It's really exciting, it means a lot to me," Harrison said. "For each event, I just tried to think of it as `this could be my last meet, but I don't want it to be,' so I just did the best I could. I wish my whole team would have made it, but it's still exciting to go individually and represent Kentucky."
UK's record score was led by a 49.400 on floor, the second-highest total of the meet and the fourth-highest on the event in team history. The Wildcats added a 49.050 on vault, their final event of the evening, along with a 48.750 on uneven bars and a 48.725 on balance beam. Kentucky's floor and beam scores were its third-highest of the season, while its vault score was its fifth-highest in 2014.
Along with Harrison's team-best 9.850 on beam and Phipps' UK-high 9.925 on floor, senior Holly Cunningham posted a team-high 9.875 on vault. Redshirt junior Kayla Hartley posted a 9.800 to lead the team on uneven bars.
The Wildcats opened with a 48.750 on uneven bars to put them in third place among the four teams that opened the meet in competition. UK was led by Hartley's 9.800, while Harrison added a 9.775. Junior Shelby Hilton and senior Kayla Sienkowski each added a 9.725, with Hilton's score tying her season best on the apparatus. Sophomore Amy Roemmele went first for Kentucky and scored a 9.675.
UK then moved to beam, where it scored a 48.725, its third-highest total of the season on the apparatus. Harrison led the way with a 9.850, while Puryear added a career-high 9.800. Junior Sara Shipley, after making her season debut two weeks ago at the SEC Championships, notched a season-best 9.725. Junior Shannon Mitchell recorded a 9.700 to anchor Kentucky's beam rotation and Roemmele scored a 9.650.
At the conclusion of UK's bye on the third rotation, the Wildcats were in fifth place at the halfway point, when each team had competed on two events. Kentucky had a 97.475, while Penn State led with a 98.350. Oregon State was second with a 98.350 and Florida was third with a 98.125 after the Gators counted a fall on beam. New Hampshire had a 97.475, while Maryland was sixth with a 96.825.
Kentucky came out of the bye with a bang, thanks to a 49.400 on floor, its third-highest total on the apparatus this season. Phipps led the Wildcats with a 9.925, a career best and the second-highest total of the meet on the apparatus. Puryear added a 9.900, while both Mitchell and Harrison scored a 9.875. Hilton, who led off for UK, and Hartley, who anchored, each tallied a 9.825.
To close the meet, in the fifth rotation, the Wildcats scored a 49.050 on vault. UK's fifth-highest score of the season on the event was led by Cunningham, who anchored with a 9.875. Harrison, leading off, Mitchell and Hartley all scored a 9.800 and junior Kenzie Hedges registered a 9.775.
"Kayla Sienkowski and Holly Cunningham brought their careers to a close at this regional meet," Garrison added. "They both finished their careers on a high note. Individually they both performed well and the team broke another record with a new regional high score. I'm proud of both of them and appreciate the efforts they have given our program."
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