Jan. 27, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky women’s gymnastics team will step out of Southeastern Conference action for the first time since its season opener on Jan. 7, when it travels to face Illinois-Chicago in a dual match on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.
The dual-meet, which will take place on the campus of UIC in downtown Chicago, marks the second road test of the year for Kentucky (2-3, 0-2 SEC). The Wildcats dropped their previous road meet, falling to top-ranked Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.
UK is coming off an improved performance in its SEC home opener last Friday against top-10 ranked Florida. The Wildcats earned a 194.075 team score against the Gators, marking the highest SEC home-opening score since 2010. The dual meet with the Gators once highlighted Kentucky’s youth as 20 of the total 24 routines during the meet were performed by freshmen or sophomores. UK used 18 routines from underclassmen in the first meet of the year and 19 vs. Arkansas.
Overall, the youthful Wildcats showed improvement against UF, setting 10 season-high marks and setting or tying nine career-high scores. Sophomore Audrey Harrison and freshman Alexis Gross competed in the all-around for UK with Harrison setting a career-high all-around score of 38.975. Gross, who scored a 38.4, was competing as an all-around for the first time in her career.
UK’s best event in the meet was floor exercise, where it earned a season-high mark of 48.625. Harrison finished fourth overall in the meet and led UK with a season-high and career-tying mark of 9.8, while Gross followed close behind with a 9.725. Freshman Kenzie Hedges set a career high with a 9.725, while sophomore Kayla Sienkowski went 9.7. Freshman Shelby Hilton made her second-consecutive floor lineup and went 9.675, while Hartley completed the UK rotation with a 9.375.
The Wildcats enter the meet ranked in the top 30 in the nation as a team with a season average of 193.458. UK is ranked 24th in the nation on vault with a season average of 48.792. Hedges leads UK on the event with a 9.792 season average, while fellow freshman Sara Shipley has a 9.788 average. Harrison, who learned a new vault during the offseason, is third on the team with a 9.775 average, followed closely by sophomore Holly Cunningham, who has a 9.767 average. Senior Storey Morris, who has vaulted only four times collegiately including three times this season, has a 9.742 average.
UIC enters the meet with a 1-2 record, while boasting a season average of 192.125. The Flames are coming off their best performance of the year last week in their home opener against North Carolina State, earning a season-high score of 193.050. UIC’s lone win of the year came in its season opener at Northern Illinois.
Live scores from the meet can be found at UKathletics.com, while updates will also be sent out through “UKGymnastics” on Twitter and Facebook.
Kentucky will continue its two-meet road trip next Friday when it returns to SEC action against LSU in Baton Rouge, La. The meet is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.