Dec. 1, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After returning a majority of its roster from last season and now under the leadership of first-year head coach Tim Garrison, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team has been tabbed 23rd in the nation in the 2012 GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll, it was announced Thursday.
The ranking is tied for the second-highest preseason ranking in school history and the highest since Kentucky was ranked tied for 22nd in 2007. According to records kept since 1998, Kentucky has hit a school-high preseason ranking of 22nd four times. This is the second time UK has been ranked 23rd with the only other time coming in 2006. Kentucky ended the 2011 season ranked 25th in the nation.
"Our preseason ranking is a vote of confidence from the coaches around the country," Garrison said. "Considering that we finished the season ranked 25th last year and have been moved up two spots by our peers is a positive sign for our program. That being said, our focus in the gym is on achieving our goals of being clean and consistent. When we can walk out on the competition floor confident that we are prepared to execute our routines with a high level of skill, the rankings will take care of themselves."
All seven Southeastern Conference schools are ranked in the preseason poll, with the defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide leading the way ranked second. Florida rounds out the top three ranked third, while Georgia is ninth, Arkansas 11th, LSU 12th and Auburn 17th. For the second straight year, UCLA earned the top spot in the preseason rankings.
UK is scheduled to compete against eight teams ranked in the preseason top 25, including all six SEC opponents, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 15 Illinois. UK will also compete against Pittsburgh and Illinois-Chicago, who are both receiving votes in the preseason poll.
The Wildcats will be led this season by senior co-captains Storey Morris and Whitney Rose, who have won a combined 21 individual event titles during their careers at Kentucky. Junior Caitlyn Ciokajlo, who won three event titles on uneven bars last season, also returns, along with fellow junior Caitlin Satkowiak. UK received strong efforts last season from its underclassmen, as current sophomores Holly Cunningham, Audrey Harrison, Paige Krall and Kayla Sienkowski all made the UK lineup at some point during the season. Fellow sophomore Kayla Hartley, who missed the 2011 season, returns, along with six newcomers in sophomore Liz Ames, and freshmen Angie Goodwyn, Alexis Gross, Kenzie Hedges, Shannon Mitchell and Jessie Staples.
Kentucky is set to host its "Meet the Team" event on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum, where fans can get their first glimpse at the 2012 Wildcats. Admission to the event is free.
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