LEXINGTON, Ky. – Audrey Harrison’s all-around performance highlighted the 16th-ranked Kentucky gymnastics team’s 195.875-195.25 loss to No. 6 LSU on Friday in Memorial Coliseum.
Harrison tied LSU’s Rheagan Courville for the individual all-around title as both totaled 39.225. The all-around win was Harrison’s third of the season as all have come in Southeastern Conference competition.
Harrison, a junior, tied a 2012 All-American on Friday to take her sixth individual victory of the season.
The Knoxville, Tenn., native improved as the night went on with her top two scores coming in the final two rotations. She tied her career-high with a 9.85 on balance beam and then closed her evening with a season-best 9.85 on floor exercise.
Harrison has looked comfortable in the Wildcats’ two meets inside Memorial Coliseum this season as she won the all-around in the home opener against Arkansas as well.
For the second-consecutive week Kentucky’s best team score of the night came on beam as the Wildcats topped the Tigers 48.975-48.75.
Sara Shipley anchored on beam with a career-best 9.8, as she enjoyed one of the best meets in her time at UK. The sophomore also produced a career performance on uneven bars with a 9.8.
Kayla Sienkowski enjoyed one of her career’s best beam routines as she earned a 9.825 to tie her all-time mark.
“We have to figure out how to get out of our own way,” head coach Tim Garrison said. “That’s kind of where we are right now. I’m even more encouraged now that we’re a good team. We are.
“We’re an excellent team, we’re just not hitting like an excellent team. As we get more confident and start believing in that fact, then we will perform better. When we perform better, we will be able to hang with a lot of people in this conference, and in the country. Obviously, we’re disappointed in the outcome tonight, but there’s a lot to be encouraged about. I keep saying it and I can’t wait to see it.”
The Wildcats got off to a nice start on vault as Shelby Hilton capped the rotation off with a career-best 9.875 to lead UK. Holly Cunningham earned a 9.825, while Harrison and Kenzie Hedges both contributed 9.75s.
Kentucky was right in the meet heading into the second rotation, but uncanny miscues seemed to derail UK’s upset bid. In the midst of those mistakes on bars Shipley excelled, while Harrison and Hilton both notched 9.775s. Kayla Hartley went 9.725.
After a disappointing bars rotation, the Wildcats showed their resiliency as their best performance of the night came on beam. Harrison, Shipley and Sienkowski all bested or tied career-highs and Shannon Mitchell impressed for a third-straight week with a 9.775. Alexis Gross and Marissa Beucler both earned scores of 9.725.
The team result of the meet was all but sewn up heading into the final rotation, but the individual all-around was another story. Harrison led Courville, herself a recipient of eight total individual titles this season, by just a tenth as UK rotated to floor and LSU went to beam.
Both were next to last in their lineups and Courville nailed her routine for an unprecedented 9.95.
With that gauntlet thrown, Harrison responded in emphatic fashion. Her floor routine, set to an acoustic rendition of Led Zeppelin’s "Stairway to Heaven," brought the crowd to its feet in the latter stages of an exciting evening’s action. Harrison nailed her final tumbling pass impressing the judges enough to earn a 9.85 and clinch a share of the all-around.
Kentucky’s last three opponents have all been ranked in the national top-10. The Wildcats opponents were ranked No, 9, No. 5 and No. 6 respectively heading into the matchups. UK’s next opponent, Georgia, is currently ranked No. 8.
The Wildcats face the Bulldogs in Memorial Coliseum next Friday beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
The Georgia meet will be Kids Day as the first 250 kids in attendance, 8th grade and younger, will receive a free gift. Friday’s meet will also be UK Alumni Association Night as UK Alumni Association members will receive free admission with their membership cards.
For ticket information, contact the UK Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818.
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