LEXINGTON, Ky. (1/21/13) – More than 5,600 fans witnessed University of Kentucky gymnastics history on Friday night inside Memorial Coliseum as the No. 14 Wildcats defeated the No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks in convincing fashion.
The Wildcats took the meet 195.5-193.075 while winning every team and individual event.
The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 SEC) continued the unprecedented start to the season as Friday’s win gave the program back-to-back Southeastern Conference wins for the first time ever. All four wins this season have come against higher-ranked opponents.
Kentucky is off to the best start in school history as the Wildcats have never before topped 195 in all three meets to begin the season.
Audrey Harrison stole the Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic show winning the individual all-around competition for the second consecutive week. The Knoxville, Tenn., native’s season high 39.275 was highlighted by her 9.9 to anchor on uneven bars with a score, which ties for her career-high.
Harrison won individual titles on bars and floor exercise (9.85). The junior now has four event titles this year and 11 all-time.
“As you would expect we are pleased with being 2-0 in the SEC,” head coach Tim Garrison said. “You can’t take any win for granted in this conference. That being said, we still have a lot of room for improvement.
We had strong performances from some athletes tonight and I am proud of this team, but I am most excited about our potential.”
Kentucky began the meet on vault and Jill Chappel led off with a career-best to earn a 9.775 in her home debut. Holly Cunningham anchored vault with a 9.825, which earned her event honors. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native stuck her landing sending the Big Blue Nation member’s in attendance into an frenzy.
A high level of consistency helped UK take vault, getting the night off to a great start as Kenzie Hedges went 9.8 and Kayla Hartley’s vault earned a 9.6.
Harrison’s 9.9 finished a strong second rotation on bars. Hartley’s 9.825 equaled her career-high as did Sara Shipley’s rotation opening 9.8. Shelby Hilton earned a 9.725 and Alexis Gross went 9.625.
Kentucky notched a season high 49.0 when the action shifted to beam. Shannon Mitchell nailed her routine to notch a career-best 9.825. Marissa Beucler could not have opened her UK career in much better fashion as her 9.825 gave her a share of event honors at her first career meet. Gross scored a great routine with a 9.8 on beam. Kayla Sienkowski as well as Harrison both earned scores of 9.775.
The evening’s outcome was all but sealed when the Wildcats rotated to floor, but there was still the matter of sending the huge crowd home entertained. Harrison was up for the challenge as she nailed all her passes, but also struck the right chords with her dance to garner a 9.85 and the event title. Mitchell also invigorated the fans with another career-best 9.825. Hedges went 9.75 and Hilton nailed her routine for a 9.725.
Kentucky has now defeated Arkansas two times in a row, bringing the all-time series to 18-2-1 in favor of Arkansas.
The Wildcats take on the two-time defending national champion No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide next Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Information provided by Jacob Most
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