Feb. 1, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After earning a season-best score in a dual-meet victory at Illinois-Chicago last weekend, the University of Kentucky women’s gymnastics team hopes to keep its momentum alive when it returns to Southeastern Conference action to face No. 14 LSU on Friday at 8 p.m. ET inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“With a solid road win last weekend and three quality days of training this week, the team is ready to get back to SEC competition,” UK head coach Tim Garrison said. “LSU is a strong team and this will be a tough test for our young group. That being said, our team has come a long way in a short period of time and I fully expect the confidence we have gained the past few weeks to show as we head to Baton Rouge.”
Kentucky (3-3, 0-2 SEC) used season-high team scores on balance beam and uneven bars in the meet, while individually, UK gymnasts set or tied 17 season highs and 14 career highs. The Wildcats’ 48.975 team score on balance beam was the 12th highest in school history and the highest for the UK program since the 2009 team earned a 49.1 on March 15 in Alaska. In fact, all six UK gymnasts that made the beam lineup against UIC set a season-high score, while five gymnasts set or tied a career high.
Sophomore Audrey Harrison and freshman Alexis Gross continued to improve in the all-around competition as both posted career-high scores at the meet. Harrison finished second in the all-around with a high mark of 39.0, while Gross, who was competing as an all-around competitor for only the second time, went 38.875.
The high marks against UIC lifted Kentucky in the GymInfo team rankings. The Wildcats enter the weekend ranked 28th in the nation overall with a season average of 193.8, while also ranking in the top 30 in the nation on three events. UK is 25th in the nation on vault with an average of 48.775, while Kentucky’s bar average of 48.394 ranks 27th in the nation. The Wildcats are also 29th on beam and tied for 32nd on floor exercise.
Individually, senior co-captain Storey Morris is having a great season, leading UK on uneven bars with a team-high average of 9.731. Morris won the beam title last week vs. UIC for the third time in her career. Fellow senior and co-captain Whitney Rose is second on bars with a 9.694 average. Kentucky’s youth has also shined as underclassmen have filled at least 18 of the 24 lineup spots in every meet this season.
The Wildcats have won two consecutive regular-season meets against the Tigers, including a 195.575-192.95 win last season in Memorial Coliseum. The win last year marked the first time UK had posted back-to-back wins over an SEC opponent since defeating Auburn in 2005 and 2006. The dual-meet win in 2011 was Kentucky’s first since taking down Auburn in 2008. UK’s win over LSU in the Lady Luck Invitational in 2010, was its first against the Tigers in 31 tries.
LSU enters the weekend ranked 14th in the nation in GymInfo team rankings, including fifth on vault with a season average of 49.256. The Tigers are ranked in the top 30 on bars, beam and floor, sitting 27th, 29th and 15th, respectively.
LSU posted a 195.750 at No. 7 Georgia last weekend, earning a 49.300 on vault and narrowly missing 49.0 scores on beam (48.975) and floor (48.975). The Tigers had a solid meet with 12 scores that either tied or set a new individual season high. Freshman Jessie Jordan, who was named Co-SEC Freshman of the Week, had two season highs with a 9.875 on vault and 9.75 on bars, en route to taking home her first all-around title with a 39.250.
Live scores from the meet will be available at UKathletics.com, while a live video stream will also be available on LSUsports.net for premium subscribers.
For more information on the Kentucky gymnastics team, follow "UKGymnastics" on Twitter and Facebook or visit UKathletics.com.