Jan. 10, 2014
|#15 Penn State||48.475||48.750||47.825||48.925||193.975|
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In front of a lively crowd of nearly 6,000 fans, the No. 21 University of Kentucky gymnastics team defeated three teams to win the annual Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic event to open the 2014 season Friday night in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky (3-0, 0-0 SEC) scored a 195.000, ahead of No. 15 Penn State’s 193.975. West Virginia placed third with a 193.700, while Ball State scored a 190.875. UK senior Audrey Harrison won the all-around title with a 39.075 along with a win on beam with a 9.850. She joined redshirt junior Kayla Hartley with a meet-best 9.825 on floor.
“The meet tonight was exactly what we hoped to see,” UK head coach Tim Garrison said. “What we wanted to see was fight, grit. If they struggled, not let it affect them. And that’s exactly what we saw tonight. We saw it on every event. We saw it on the first event. We started off great on vault. We had two back-to-back that didn’t do so well. They very easily could have put their heads down and given up on them. They didn’t. They took a step forward, pulled their chest up and performed well for the rest of the way.”
The Wildcats claimed the top scores on vault with a 48.600, beam with a 48.675 and floor with a 48.950. UK’s uneven bars score of 48.775 was second to West Virginia’s.
The win came in front of an opening-night crowd of 5,839. It marked the largest crowd for a UK gymnastics meet since 6,875 in 2007.
“Almost 6,000 people,” Garrison said. “It was electric. It was a fun night. When one of our athletes would hit a landing, the whole place would just go crazy. That’s what we want to bring back three weeks from now when we come back and compete here.”
The Wildcats hit the road for the second week of the season when they travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for the Ozone Invite Jan. 18. UK will compete against No. 2 Alabama and No. 10 Nebraska in the neutral-site event at 8 p.m. ET. Kentucky’s next home contest is Feb. 7 against No. 1 and defending national champion Florida.
UK opened on floor, where it posted a 48.600, led by senior Holly Cunningham’s 9.800 and junior Kenzie Hedges’ 9.775. Junior Shannon Mitchell tallied a 9.725 on the first collegiate vault, while Harrison notched a 9.700. Junior Shelby Hilton, who competed on all four events, rounded out UK’s scoring with a 9.600.
Kentuckyfollowed it up with a 48.775 on uneven bars, the highest score on the event by just 0.025 over Penn State. The Wildcats were led by sophomore Amy Roemmele’s 9.8250, the third-highest total on the event of any gymnast. Hartley finished just behind with a 9.800, while sophomore Montana Whittle scored a 9.775 in her first collegiate competition. Harrison totaled a 9.700 and fellow senior Kayla Sienkowski notched a 9.675.
The Wildcats’ strongshowing on bars gave them the lead after two events, which they would never relinquish.
On balance beam, Harrison’s 9.850 tied a career high and led all gymnasts on the event. Mitchell and Hilton each finished with a 9.750, the second-best score of any competitor on the night. Hilton’s score marked the first time in her career she competed on beam. Sienkowski scored a 9.675, while Cunningham posted a 9.650.
UK saved its best score for last, with a meet-high 48.950 on floor exercise. Harrison and Hartley led all gymnasts, each with a 9.825.Hedges tallied a 9.800 and Hilton and Mitchell both scored a 9.750.
Hilton, competing in the all-around for the first time in her career, totaled a 38.700.
For complete news and updates on the Kentucky Gymnastics program, go toUKathletics.com. Breaking news, behind-the-scenes updates, photos and more can be found on Twitter at@UKGymnasticsand Facebook atFacebook.com/UKGymnastics.