Jan. 12, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A week after opening the season with a thrilling victory over then-No. 17 Illinois and Northern Illinois, the No. 16 University of Kentucky gymnastics team hits the road to open Southeastern Conference play against No. 1 Florida at the O'Connell Center on Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The meet will be televised on a delayed basis on Fox Sports Net on Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET.
"Last weekend was a good start to the season," assistant coach Heather Hite said. "We beat two good teams and it has carried over into practice this week. We have had some really good workouts and are excited about getting down there and competing. It is going to be a challenge Saturday to go down there and face one of the best teams in the country, but playing the best is how you get better."
Kentucky (2-0) is coming off solid scores in its season-opening victory, where the Wildcats led throughout the match. UK posted solid scores on all four events, winning vault, uneven bars and floor exercise to claim the victory.
Senior Andrea Mitchell was the most impressive performer for Kentucky in the lid lifter, scoring a career high 9.95 on floor - the third highest score in school history on the event. Fellow seniors Jasmine Minion and Phylicia Reshard, along with junior Whitney Rose also scored career highs on floor, while Rose took home medalist honors on vault. Sophomore Caitlyn Ciokajlo joined in by winning her first event title on bars.
UK will enter the meet ranked 16th in this week's GymInfo rankings, moving up eight spots from its preseason ranking of 24th. Kentucky's ranking stems for being ranked in the top 25 on all four events, including second in the country on floor exercise. The Wildcats also are tied for 22nd on vault, tied for 17th on bars and 25th on beam.
Florida (1-0) is one of nine ranked teams that the Wildcats will play this season and the first of three consecutive top-10 teams UK will face. After the top-ranked Gators, UK will face No. 10 Arkansas and No. 6 Georgia back-to-back weeks in Lexington, starting with Arkansas on Jan. 21. Kentucky also faces No. 9 Alabama and non-conference foes No. 11 Nebraska, No. 15 Ohio State and No. 18 Iowa. UK has already defeated Illinois, which is currently ranked 21st.
"It will be a great challenge that we are looking forward to," assistant coach Chuck Dickerson
said. "We simply want to put 24 routines together. That's what we are focused on. We can't and won't be concerned that they are ranked No. 1. We have a job to do. Its that simple. I love the team's vision and we are only concerned about what we do. It should be a great meet."
Follow the UK gymnastics program all season long at UKathletics.com and "UKGymnastics" on Facebook or Twitter.