GymKats Tie School Record, Defeat No. 22 Illinois
Tying a school record with its best performance of the season, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team defeated No. 22 Illinois, 195.875-193.525, on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Memorial Coliseum. The score matches the UK record set in 1996.
This is a huge emotional victory for us, Coach Leah Little said. Weve pushed these athletes, and they were frustrated. We knew they were capable of this type of performance, and now they have shown it. We just have to build on this and get ready for Denver next week to put ourselves in good position for the postseason.
The GymKats (2-4, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) began competition on their best event, the vault, and proceeded to score a season-high 48.925 as all five individual scores were season highs. Counting no score less than 9.725, UK was led by junior Jennifer Simmons first-place 9.850, while freshman Aronda Primault tallied a 9.825. Not far behind were freshman Julie Joy (9.775), sophomore Melanie Zaharias (9.750) and junior Katie Toups (9.725). With some falls by Illinois (0-5) on the bars, UK took a commanding 48.925-47.775 lead.
On the uneven bars, UK matched its beam score to increase the overall lead. Toups led the way in this rotation with a season-high 9.825 to claim individual honors. Lemp contributed a 9.800 for second place, while junior Nicole Allen and Joy tied for third with a 9.775, both career highs. Simmons closed out the scoring with a season-high 9.750.
The Illini picked up some ground in the third rotation with a strong performance on the floor exercise, but the GymKats hung tough by scoring the fifth-best balance beam score in school history with a 48.825. Sophomore Mindy Smith was tops on the beam for UK for the fifth time this season by scoring a 9.875. Allen added 9.800, as sophomore Karla Adelt and Lemp each scored a 9.725, a career high for Adelt. Primault finished with a 9.700.
In the closing rotation, the floor exercise, UK scored over 49.000 for the first time this season with a 49.200, the third-best floor score in school history. Primault closed out a career night with a career-high 9.875 for first-place. Close on her heels were senior Beth Coleman, Allen and Simmons at 9.850. Joy closed out the scoring with a career-high 9.775.
With her first all-around performance of the season, Primault put together an excellent score of 39.075, a team high this season, to claim individual honors.
The GymKats leave the confines of Memorial Coliseum again next week for a three-week road swing that begins at the University of Denver on Friday, Feb. 16. Action gets underway at 9 p.m. EST.