March 17, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fresh off a successful regular season that brought a school-record team score on vault and uneven bars, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team hopes for more of the same when it travels to compete in the Southeastern Conference Championship on Saturday at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham, Ala. First rotations for the meet begin at 5 p.m. ET.
“Everything that we have done up to this point in the season has been preparation for this event,” UK assistant coach Chuck Dickerson said. “We are a team that relies heavily on its upperclassman and they know the preparation and focus that you have to have to compete well at this event. Hopefully, we can go down there and put together a good score to improve our Regional Qualifying Score and our standing in the rankings as we head into the regional announcement next week.”
One of the premier collegiate gymnastics meets in the country the SEC Championship features some of the best teams in the nation, including seven of the top 30 teams in the nation, according to GymInfo. Leading the pack are the top-two teams in No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama, while No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 Arkansas have been ranked high in the GymInfo rankings all season. LSU and Auburn are also in the top 25 with LSU coming in at No. 19, while Auburn is No. 22.
Kentucky (9-9, 1-5 SEC) hopes to build on its 194.945 RQS. The Wildcats steadily improved throughout the season with some major accomplishments along the way. So far this season, UK has set a school-record team score on vault with a mark of 49.4, while the Wildcats tied a school-record score on uneven bars with a 49.325. Kentucky gymnasts have earned a total of 11 scores of 9.9 or more this season, including senior Andrea Mitchell’s two 9.95s on floor exercise and senior Phylicia Reshard’s 9.95 on vault.
UK enters the meet ranked 29th overall as a team, sitting in the top 30 in the nation on each event. The Wildcats are 16th on the vault (49.065), 23rd on floor exercise (48.985), 28th on uneven bars (48.785) and 34th on balance beam (48.520).
The Wildcats have two gymnasts ranked individually in the GymInfo rankings with Reshard’s all-around RQS ranking her 18th best in the nation. Mithcell, whose all around score of 39.550 two weeks ago was the highest for a UK gymnast since All-American Jenny Hansen in 1996, is just outside of the top 25 in the all-around competition, but is tied for 15th in the nation on floor exercise with an RQS of 9.875.
The Wildcats are coming off an impressive last two weeks, going 5-1 in three meets en route to posting its season-high team score of 195.650. Kentucky has finished seventh at the SEC Championships in each of the last seven years.
The NCAA will announce Monday the 36 teams that qualify for the 2011 NCAA Gymnastics Championships. Six qualifying teams will compete in each regional, with the top two teams from each regional advancing to the NCAA Championship finals in Cleveland, Ohio, April 15-17.