No. 18 GymKats Play Host to No. 2 Alabama on Senior Night
March 7, 2002
Alabama Meet Notes in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader
Senior Night is a special occasion in collegiate athletics, especially so at the University of Kentucky, and on Friday, March 8, the 18th-ranked UK gymnastics team will bid farewell to four seniors before it plays host to No. 2 Alabama at 7 p.m. ET. Nicole Allen, Jessie Lemp, Jennifer Simmons and Katie Toups will greet the UK fans for the final time in Memorial Coliseum as their GymKat careers come to a close.
"I can't say enough about this class," Coach Leah Little said. "This class has stayed together and made tremendous contributions to taking UK Gymnastics to the next level."
Although none of these departing GymKats are Kentucky natives, the playing of "My Old Kentucky Home" will be an emotional moment. The quartet has had many trials and tribulations along with wonderful moments as they have helped UK tie or break school records while dealing with injuries along the way.
At their final meet at home, they are faced with a daunting task: defeating No. 2 Alabama. The three-time national-champion Crimson Tide come to the Bluegrass with a 10-3 record and are 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tide are led by senior Andree Pickens. Pickens is ranked first in the nation on the vault and fifth on the uneven bars.
But the GymKats are ready for the challenge. With a 7-5 (1-3 SEC) record, UK will look to do this season what they nearly did in 2001, beat the Tide. In Tuscaloosa last year, Kentucky held a 0.075-point lead heading into the final rotation. However, UA was slightly better on the floor exercise than UK was on the beam and the Tide pulled out a slim 195.900-195.825 win.
"We almost had them last season," Little said. "That night we proved to ourselves that we could compete with the best, and this team has certainly carried that over to this season. With two scores of 196 in the last three weeks, these gymnasts know they can win and that is what they will try to do."
UK is led by the all-around duo of Aronda Primault and Julie Joy. Primault, an SEC Gymnast of the Year candidate, leads the team with a 39.096 all-around average and is ranked 16th in the country, second in the Central Region and third in the SEC. Not far behind is Joy who is ranked 27th in the all-around nationally and fourth in the region and conference. Primault and Joy have finished one-two in the all-around the past three meets.
Primault also is ranked sixth in the region and eighth in the SEC on the vault, while Joy is fifth regionally and sixth in the SEC on the uneven bars. Lemp is also highly ranked on bars, sixth in the region and eighth in the conference.