April 7, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After an impressive performance on uneven bars, where it posted a team score of 48.95 behind a career-high tying score from junior Caitlyn Ciokajlo, the 24th-ranked University of Kentucky gymnastics team finished in fifth place out of six teams with a team score of 194.750 at the NCAA Regional in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday.
No. 2 Oklahoma won the regional competition with a team score of 197.025, while No. 11 Stanford finished second with a 196.675. Both Oklahoma and Stanford will now advance to the NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga. Host No. 22 Illinois finished third behind a 195.725, followed by No. 14 Denver at 194.875. UK defeated Illinois-Chicago in the meet after the Flames scored a 194.150.
The NCAA Regional appearance ends a historic first season for Kentucky under head coach Tim Garrison, who became the first coach in school history to lead a team to a 196 team score in his first season. The Wildcats had several other accomplishments throughout the season, including entering the NCAA Regionals with the second-highest Regional Qualifying score in school history. The Wildcats ended the regular season with three consecutive team scores of 195.875 or higher, which was the best three-meet stretch in school history.
Individually, UK gymnasts posted an impressive total of 22 event titles during the 2012 season, including three all-around titles by sophomore Audrey Harrison. Four gymnasts posted strong scores of 9.85 or higher on vault during the season, while senior Storey Morris led Kentucky on uneven bars and balance beam with career-high marks of 9.9 and 9.85, respectively. Harrison and fellow sophomore Kayla Hartley paced UK on floor with each gymnast scoring 9.9s, while Harrison grabbed a career best 39.250 in the all-around competition.
The Wildcats saved the best performance of the night for last, scoring a team score of 48.95 on uneven bars. Ciokajlo led the way for Kentucky with a career-high tying 9.875, which ranked her fifth overall at the meet. Freshman Sara Shipley and Morris each continued their consistency on the event with 9.8s. Senior Whitney Rose posted a season-high tying 9.775 on the event, while freshman Alexis Gross went 9.7 and Harrison earned a 9.65.
Kentucky started the meet on balance beam, which has been one of the best events of the season for the Wildcats. UK was impressive on the event with hardly a wobble, earning a team score of 48.55. Morris led Kentucky on the event with a 9.825, which is just hundredths off her career-high mark. Sophomore Holly Cunningham and freshman Shannon Mitchell finished second on the team with 9.75s, while sophomore Kayla Sienkowski was third with a 9.625. Harrison grabbed a 9.6 on the event with Gross concluding the scoring with a 9.55.
UK had a bye before it performed on floor exercise. The Wildcats earned a team score of 48.5 on the event. Harrison led the way for Kentucky with a 9.8, while Sienkowski and Gross followed closely behind with 9.725s. Hartley grabbed a 9.65 on the event followed by freshmen Shelby Hilton and Kenzie Hedges, who each posted 9.6s.
The Wildcats continued to perform well on vault, posting a team score of 48.75. Morris and Cunningham led the way for Kentucky with a pair of 9.8s. The two were followed in scoring by Hedges, who earned a 9.75, while Shipley and Harrison each posted 9.7s. Gross completed the rotation with a 9.675.
UK was one of 36 teams from around the country to earn a regional invitation, while Champaign, Ill., was one of six national sites to play host to a regional this season. This was Kentucky’s 24th appearance in a NCAA Regional and its eighth consecutive.
For more information on the Kentucky gymnastics team, follow “UKGymnastics” on Twitter and Facebook, or visit UKathletics.com.
1.) Oklahoma 197.025 2.) Stanford 196.675 3.) Illinois 195.725 4.) Denver 194.875 5.) Kentucky 194.750 6.) Illinois-Chicago 194.150
UK Scores: Vault 48.75, Bars 48.95, Beam 48.55, Floor 48.5
VAULT: Gross 9.675, Shipley 9.7, Morris 9.8, Harrison 9.7, Hedges 9.75, Cunningham 9.8
BARS: Rose 9.775, Gross 9.7, Harrison 9.65, Shipley 9.8, Morris 9.8, Ciokajlo 9.875
BEAM: Sienkowski 9.625, Mitchell 9.75, Harrison 9.6, Gross 9.55, Morris 9.825, Cunningham 9.75
FLOOR: Hilton 9.6, Sienkowski 9.725, Gross 9.725, Hedges 9.6, Harrison 9.8, Hartley 9.65
All-Around: Harrison 38.75, Gross 38.65