Feb. 8, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After tying its season-high team score last week at LSU, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team looks to show even more improvement this weekend when it plays hosts to the defending Southeastern Conference and NCAA Champion Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday at 7 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky (3-4, 0-3 SEC) is coming off back-to-back season-high performances against Illinois-Chicago and LSU, where the Wildcats posted a season-best mark of 195.05 in both meets. The solid score was the highest for Kentucky in an SEC dual meet on the road since the 2010 squad posted a 195.55 at Georgia.
Last week at LSU, Kentucky won its second consecutive balance beam title as a team with a score of 48.875, while Kentucky gymnasts set of tied nine season highs and nine career highs in the meet. The Wildcats again used 18 routines from freshmen and sophomores, extending their streak of at least 18 routines from underclassmen in every meet this season.
Sophomore Audrey Harrison and freshman Alexis Gross have led Kentucky in its last two meets, posting strong all-around scores this year. Against LSU, Harrison and Gross had career nights in the all-around competition vs. LSU as Harrison went 39.125, while Gross scored a 39.875. UK sophomore Holly Cunningham also performed well against LSU, finishing tied for second on vault with a career-high 9.85 and a solid 9.8 on beam. Freshman Shannon Mitchell led UK on beam, finishing tied for second at the meet with a career-best 9.825, while Harrison was tied for second on floor exercise with a career-best 9.85.
The Wildcats enter the weekend ranked 26th in the nation overall with a season average of 194.095. Kentucky is also ranked in the top 32 on every event, including 24th on vault with a season average of 48.8. UK is 26th overall on balance beam with an average of 48.345, while its uneven bars average of 48.420 is 29th in the nation. The Wildcats are ranked 32nd on floor exercise with an average of 48.530.
No. 2 Alabama is coming off its best performance of the season where they defeated highly ranked Florida 197.725-196.9 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Crimson Tide hold a 6-0 record this season, including a 3-0 mark against SEC competition. The 2011 NCAA National Champions have the second-highest average in the nation this season at 196.675, while also ranking first on vault with an average of 49.475. The Tide are also fifth on floor, sixth on balance beam and 10th on uneven bars. Senior Ashley Priess is ranked first in the nation in the all-around competition, while fellow senior Geralen Stack-Eaton is second in the nation on vault. Sophomore Diandra Milliner is the reigning SEC Gymnasts of the Week after scoring a perfect 10.0 score on vault last week.
Friday night's meet is Kids Night where the first 250 kids eighth grade or below will receive a free gift, while in-meet promotional games will be played for a chance to win prizes. After the meet the entire gymnastics team will sign autographs. Reserved tickets for gymnastics events are $5 each, regardless of age, while general admission tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors and youth. Tickets can be purchased by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287. Tickets are also sold at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office on the night of the event.
The meet will be televised on a delayed basis on Fox Sports South on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. ET. This is the second of three televised meets for Kentucky this season. UK's dual meet with Florida on Jan. 20 was shown on a delayed basis on FSN, while next weekend's meet with Georgia will also be shown on FSN on a delayed basis.
Live scores will be available online at UKathletics.com, while live video streaming will also be available through a premium subscription.
Gymnastics parking is available in the following surface lots and parking structures:
Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center, and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose St.
Memorial Coliseum E-Lot - located between Lexington Ave and MLK Blvd. and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane.
Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
Handicapped Parking (first come-first served until full) is located in the Northeast corner of the MLK South Lot, must have valid state-issued hang tag.
Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off MLK Blvd
Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper
For more information on the Kentucky gymnastics team, follow "UKGymnastics" on Twitter and Facebook or visit UKathletics.com.