Wilson, Worley Bring Excitement to 2024 Excite Night
The home opener for the Kentucky gymnastics team each season is known as Excite Night. And it didn’t take long for things to get really exciting for the 10,000-plus fans in attendance to see Kentucky face Georgia in the 2024 Excite Night on Friday night inside Rupp Arena.
In the first rotation of the event, Kentucky was putting up big numbers on the vault. The Cats had already gotten a 9.925 from senior Isabella Magnelli and a 9.900 from fifth-year Raena Worley.
Kentucky’s last competitor in the rotation was Makenzie Wilson. And the junior from Clinton, Tennessee, delivered – in a huge way.
Wilson’s vault had the Rupp Arena crowd buzzing, as she stuck the landing on her difficult vault. But the crowd erupted when the judges revealed that Wilson had scored a perfect 10.000, the first perfect score for a UK gymnast in more than 25 years. How did that make Wilson feel?
“Amazing, emotional, all the things,” Wilson said. “I’m almost at a loss for words because the love that I felt from that was just insane and unlike any other. It was great.”
The 10.000 score by Wilson marked the 22nd time in school history that a Wildcat had notched a perfect score on the vault. However, it was the first time it had been done by someone not named Jenny Hansen. The three-time NCAA all-around champion and UK Athletics Hall of Famer accomplished a perfect score on vault 21 times in her four years at Kentucky. Ironically, Hansen was in attendance on Friday night as UK gymnastics kicked off its 50th year celebration by honoring gymnastics alumni.
For Wilson, to have her name linked to Hansen is a great honor.
“I’m honored to be able to stand by her,” Wilson said. “That’s crazy to me. To think that me, some little, small-town girl from Tennessee can do big things like that is crazy.”
But the excitement wouldn’t end until Kentucky’s last routine of the event. That’s when Worley recorded the first 10.000 routine of her career, landing a perfect floor routine. For Worley, it was a long time coming and a moment she later got to celebrate with her parents.
“Surreal. Very exciting. Worth the work,” Worley said. “Mom and dad have always told me I don’t need a 10 to be special for them.”
Kentucky would go on to win the meet 197.950-195.650 over Georgia. The 197.950 was a program record for UK, besting the 197.850 that the Cats achieved in Las Vegas to start the 2024 season.
Worley claimed her 23rd career all-around title by scoring 39.600. For Worley, competing in her final Excite Night with Hansen in attendance, was truly special.
“It’s just crazy,” Worley said. “The history she has at Kentucky is absolutely insane. So, to be able to do something as significant as she did in her time is so special to me.”
The name of the event is Excite Night and, on Friday, the UK gymnastics team made sure that the event lived up to its name.