LEXINGTON, Ky. – Despite placing over a 195 for the third consecutive meet, the Kentucky Wildcats gymnastics team fell to the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday evening in Memorial Coliseum, 196.275 – 195.025.

The loss aside, the Wildcats had some positive performances during the meet, with freshman Sidney Dukes earning a new season-high in the all-around with a score of 39.300.

“I think at this point we’re underperforming,” fifth-year head coach Tim Garrison commented. “We’re a better team than this. I’ve been on the train of ‘we need to get experience’ and ‘we have a lot of young athletes, and when we get into season we’re going to start turning the right direction.’ That’s still possible. However, at this point, we’re underperforming. We’re not where we should be. We’re four meets in, we’ve got experience, we’ve got what we need and the people that we need in our lineups. In fact, we’ve got some people who will compete for some of our current starter’s spots. But we’re still underperforming. It’s very disappointing and it’s something we need to correct and it’s something we’re going to work in the gym to correct. And we’re going to do it. There’s no reason for a lot of the mistakes we made tonight – absolutely no reason. There’s no pointing fingers at an individuals right now, it’s a team loss. Some individuals did great, others didn’t. I don’t want to talk about either because it’s still a team loss. We’re underperforming right now and it’s unfortunate, because we should be better than that and we’re going to work to make those changes.”

With the loss, the Wildcats dropped to 1-3 on the season and 0-3 in SEC play, while Georgia improves to 2-3 with a 2-0 record in league play. The Wildcats resume action on Friday, Feb. 5 when they head down to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face the Crimson Tide of Alabama.

The meet with Georgia served as UK’s “DanceBlue” meet, with fundraising efforts to support childhood cancer research. Prior to the beginning of the meet, the team and staff honored former Wildcat gymnast Shelby Hilton. Hilton, a senior from St. Petersburg, Fla., was a member of the Wildcats team for the past four years, before a fall at Florida last season revealed a case of medulloblastoma. The meet hit home with the team and fans, as Hilton received a standing ovation after being announced that she has been disease-free for four months.

Vault proved the largest challenge for the Wildcats on Friday, with the team scoring a 48.500. Freshman Katie Stuart proved impressive again on vault, scoring a 9.825 to lead UK. Next came Dukes, ringing up a 9.8. Freshman Alex Hyland scored a 9.725, followed by a 9.6 from senior Marissa Beucler. Freshman Aubree Rosa rounded out the scoring runs with a 9.55, while classmate Danaea Davis competed in the anchor position with a 9.15.

On the bars, Dukes again put on an exciting performance with a score of 9.825. The freshman finished in the team’s top spot in three of Friday night’s four events. Cori Rechenmacher and Montana Whittle also helped guide the Wildcats to a 48.825 score on the bars. Rechenmacher, a sophomore, posted a score of 9.8, while Whittle followed behind with 9.75. Freshmen Hyland and Stuart both finished with 9.725 while, Katrina Coca rounded out the team with an 8.55.

The Wildcats were consistent in their beam performance, as 9.8’s from Whittle, Hyland and Dukes led UK to a 48.900 team score on the rotation. Next came Amy Roemmele, who posted a 9.725 in the second slot for UK. Rosa also contributed to the team score with a 9.675, while Rechenmacher’s 9.275 was nixed.

Led by Dukes, the Wildcats best performance of the night was on display during the floor exercise as they finished with a score of 48.900. Dukes posted a 9.875 after a strong performance, followed by Stuart with a 9.825. Rommele and Hyland both posted scores of 9.8 to help, with junior Taylor Puryear scoring a 9.6 in the outing. Senior Tiara Phipps contributed as well with a 9.575.

by Steven Sommer