The Kentucky gymnastics team sent its seniors off in winning fashion on Friday evening in Memorial Coliseum, earning a 196.275-194.825 win against the Iowa State Cyclones in front of 3,111 fans.
The performance marked the third straight meet in which Kentucky posted a score of 196 or better. Last time out, UK posted its third best score in program history with a 196.65 in a loss to the Gators. In the meet that preceded Florida, the Cats posted the program’s second highest mark with a 196.7 in a loss to Arkansas.
“It felt like a battle,” said fifth-year head coach Tim Garrison. “I’m not exactly sure why. I thought our performance tonight was every bit equal to what we did last week. We had to change some lineups for different reasons, but overall I think our kids worked hard, fought all night and came out with a good result.”
Kentucky now sits at 7-6 this season and 1-6 in Southeastern Conference action, while Iowa State moves to 12-7 with a 1-1 mark in Big 12 play.
Kentucky saved the best for last, posting its highest rotation of the night on the floor. UK came together to score a 49.3, its second best score on floor this season. Three Wildcats in senior Amy Roemmele and freshmen Katie Stuart and Alex Hyland set or tied career marks on the event.
“[The floor performance] is something that’s been coming,” Garrison remarked. “We’ve been waiting on some people to get back into lineups and perform and the last two weeks they’ve come out and done that. I think that consistency is important headed into SEC’s and the post season.
“Senior nights are always a mix of emotions. You have all the excitement of senior night and what it means for these athletes to come out and perform in front of the BBN one last time on their home equipment in their home gym. There’s also a bit of sadness to it when we’re reliving their time here and realizing how quickly it goes.”
Kentucky began the evening with a 48.825 on the vault. A pair of 9.8’s from freshmen Aubree Rosa and Sidney Dukes, competing in the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, led the team. Classmate Danaea Davis trailed closely, scoring a 9.775 in her second meet back in the lineup. Stuart and Hyland finished the scoring runs, each posting a 9.725. Marissa Beucler led off the group with a 9.7.
Kentucky added another leaderboard-worthy performance on bars, with the team’s 49.15 ranking the seventh best team performance on the apparatus. Dukes and Beucler led the team, each scoring 9.875 in the final two spots. Hyland scored a 9.825 in the third spot. Freshman Katrina Coca led off the group with a 9.8, while a 9.775 from Stuart rounded out the scoring runs. Sophomore Cori Rechenmacher fell and helped off the floor after an apparent injury.
The Wildcats posted a 49 on the beam, reaching the benchmark for the sixth time this season. For the sixth time, Hyland led Kentucky, scoring a 9.875. Roemmele provided a 9.8, while sophomore Sydney Waltz, Dukes and Stuart each tacked on a 9.775. Senior Montana Whittle led off UK with a 9.75.
Kentucky’s highest scoring rotation of the day came on the floor, scoring a 49.3 in the final act. Junior Taylor Puryear paced the Cats, scoring a 9.9. Hyland and Stuart provided a pair of 9.875 scores. Senior Tiara Phipps and her classmate Roemmele each scored a 9.825 to in their last floor routine in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky will head to North Little Rock, Ark., for the SEC Championships next, with the Wildcats competing during the afternoon session at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. The session will broadcast live on the SEC Network, with UK likely facing Arkansas, Georgia and Missouri.
For complete news and updates on the Kentucky Gymnastics program, go to UKathletics.com. Breaking news, behind-the-scenes updates and more can be found on Twitter at @UKGymnastics and Facebook at Facebook.com/UKGymnastics.
by Steven Sommer