Gymnastics Season Wrap-up
April 16, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - In 2009, the Kentucky gymnastics team continued to make its mark in school history by setting several team records and notching individual career highs for the second straight year. The Wildcats broke the vault Regional Qualifying Score record, while individual Cats found their own place in UK's record books.
The team earned a season-high overall score of 196.225 while in Anchorage, Alaska, the third highest total in school history and the second best during head coach Mo Mitchell's tenure at the university. The Cats also grabbed a season-high beam score of 49.300 in Alaska, which is the second highest in Mitchell's career. The team earned a season-high vault score of 49.250 at the NCAA Central Regional meet in Columbus, Ohio; a top-five score in UK record books and the best vault total recorded under Mitchell.
Kentucky sat in the nation's top 20 on vault all season. It made sense the Cats were a top-ranked vault squad as UK surpassed its 2008 vault RQS of 49.035 by averaging a 49.052 throughout the year. The team improved the program's vault RQS record to 49.150. The Wildcats vault lineup was led by junior Emily Green, who obtained a season high of 9.950 in Alaska and ranked in the top 30. She became one of only four other gymnasts to earn a 9.950 or better on the event and the first Wildcat since All-American Aronda Primault accomplished the feat in 2003. With the help of two other ranked UK gymnasts, No. 32 sophomore Jasmine Minion and top-50 freshman Whitney Rose, the Cats scored a season high of 49.250 at the NCAA Regional meet hosted by Ohio State and earned a 49.225 during three meets in the 2009 season, including the Southeastern Conference Championships. Both scores rank in the top five in school history. Minion never scored below a 9.800 all year with 11 scores above a 9.825.
The Wildcats' season-best balance beam score came while the Blue and White tested out the Last Frontier. The first mark of 9.800 by junior Hillary Ferguson kick started the way to a record book beam performance by the Cats. Senior Bridget Carreiro stuck a career-high 9.900, placing second overall. Junior Emilie Rymer contributed with a season high of 9.850, while Rose's career-best 9.850 and senior Heather Hite's season-high 9.925 solidified the 49.300.
To cap off the season, at the 2009 SEC Gymnastics Championships, Kentucky earned its best meet total under Mitchell with a 195.000, the best score since a 195.850 at the 2001 championships.
Younger talent shined during the 2009 season and was recognized at the SEC meet. Rose was named SEC Freshman of the Year, just the fifth freshman to be awarded the honor in UK history. Rose progressed from vault specialist to one of UK's all-around performers. She earned three titles in the 2009 season, two on vault and one all-around. The freshman received her first vault top honor when she registered a season-high 9.900 against LSU, then bettered the score against Alaska-Anchorage with a career-best 9.925. Rose used a 9.825 on the balance beam to give her a season-best 39.100 all-around score for her third career title.
Hite has been a leader on both the balance beam and floor exercise for Kentucky. She holds the most career titles on each event and leaves with career high of 9.950 on both apparatuses. The senior led Kentucky 21 times this season while grabbing eight career titles, giving her a total of 27 (16 on beam and 11 on floor).
Rubinstein returned this season just in time for her career finale. After being sidelined for two seasons due to injury, she made a remarkable comeback, grabbing all five of her career titles this year on the uneven bars. Not only did she make the lineup, she led the Wildcats 12 times with an average of 9.805 in the event. Rubinstein tied her career-best 9.900 on the uneven bars and was selected to the SEC Community Service Team.
Carreiro graduates after earning a beam career-high of 9.900 against Alaska, helping the Wildcats to a season-best 49.300. Carreiro transferred in 2007 from Western Kentucky's diving program and instantly made a splash with the Cats' beam lineup. The Lexington native proved to be a dependable asset to the team, competing in 11 of this year's meets.
Kentucky has a lot to look forward to in 2010. Although losing the invaluable contributions of seniors Hite, Rubinstein, and Carreiro, the team's younger class has already proven themselves as contenders in the SEC.