Jan. 27, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After dropping its first two Southeastern Conference meets of the season, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team looks to continue to improve its overall team score when it hosts No. 3 Georgia in Memorial Coliseum on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
“This is an important meet for us,” assistant coach Heather Hite said. “We need to show that the things that we are capable of doing in practice can move to the competition floor. This will be the last home meet we have until the end of February so I think it is important for us to come out and fine tune some things before we hit this road stretch.”
Kentucky (2-2, 0-2 SEC) is in the midst of the most challenging part of the 2011 schedule. So far this season, UK has face four opponents, three of which have been ranked in the GymInfo top 25, including No. 1 Florida. In all, Kentucky will face 10 teams currently ranked in the GymInfo top-25, including every SEC opponent. After facing third-ranked Georgia this week, Kentucky will face No. 22 Auburn (2/4), No. 6 Alabama (2/18), No. 21 Ohio State (2/20), No. 25 LSU (2/25) and No. 10 Nebraska (2/27) and No. 15 Iowa (2/27).
“Every week in our conference you know that you are going to have to compete against the best in the country,” Hite said. “Georgia is a very talented team and their No. 3 ranking is an indication of that. Our girls just have to go out there and do their routines and not worry about what is going on elsewhere. If we stay focused and confident then I know that we can have a good meet.”
Although the Wildcats are just out of the GymInfo top 25 team rankings, Kentucky is represented well in several event rankings and individually. Kentucky’s best event ranking comes on floor exercise, where the Wildcats are tied for eighth in the nation with a season average of 48.9. UK is 18th in the country on vault with a season average of 48.75, while the Wildcats are tied for 19th on uneven bars with an average of 48.708.
Individually, Kentucky has two gymnasts ranked. Junior Whitney Rose has been impressive on vault this year for UK and is tied for 16th in the nation with a season average of 9.858. Senior Andrea Mitchell, who is tied for the highest score in the nation so far this season with a 9.95, is tied for 13th on floor with a season average of 9.858.
Last week against then-No. 13 Arkansas, Kentucky had solid performances on vault and bars. Rose led the Wildcats on vault, earning her 12th career medalist honors, while sophomore Caitlyn Ciokajlo paced Kentucky’s efforts on bars to win her second event title this season. Behind Ciokajlo’s career-high bar score of 9.875, UK posted a season-high mark of 48.9 on bars.
Georgia (5-1, 1-0 SEC) is fresh off a win in its SEC opener, scoring a 196.650 over Auburn. The Gym Dogs have performed well this year with wins over several ranked teams, including then-No.16 Denver and then-No.18 West Virginia. Friday’s match will mark the first time Georgia has played away from Stegeman Coliseum since its season opener at Denver on Jan. 8. As a team, Georgia sits in the top five nationally on every event, including a No. 3 ranking on balance beam.
The meet with Georgia will be the annual UK Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night where all UK faculty and staff along with three guests receive free admission to the event. One lucky UK faculty or staff member will win a $100 shopping spree at the UK Bookstore. It will also be UK student night, where the first 100 UK students will receive a voucher for a free hotdog and soda and one lucky student will win an IPod Shuffle. Finally, the meet will be the annual Blue and White game, where UK’s student-athletes and staff will all be in attendance, and kids night, where the first 100 kids eighth grade or under will receive free UK silly putty.
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