After months of preparation, the Kentucky gymnastics teams will compete for the first time in 2018 during the annual Excite Night meet on Friday. For the first time in school history, UK will compete in Rupp Arena in front of an already sold out crowd against Ball State, George Washington and Southeast Missouri. Introductions are set for 6:40 p.m., while the meet will begin at 7 p.m. The quad meet will streamed live on SEC Network+ and the Watch ESPN app.
Lizzy Greene, from the Nickelodeon show “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn,” will appear as a special guest at Excite Night. Greene has been nominated for multiple Kids’ Choice Awards and is popular on social media with over two million dedicated followers.
Kentucky enters its 37th season in competition in 2018. In that time, the Wildcats have had individuals qualify for the NCAA Championships 20 times, won eight individual NCAA Championships, had eight All-America selections, 10 individual SEC Champions, six SEC Freshmen of the Year and 20 All-SEC selections.
Scouting the Cardinals
Ball State was 6-11 during the 2017 season and posted a high score of 195.650, which they posted two times last season. Kentucky traveled to Muncie, Indiana, last year to take on BSU, where they defeated the Cardinals 195.300-194.025. BSU finished seventh at the Mid-American Conference Championships last season after posting a score of 194.750. Ball State did not qualifying for the NCAA Regionals, but three athletes – Kaitlyn Menzione (all-around), Sarah Ebeyer (vault) and Baylee Bell (beam) were named alternates.
Scouting the Colonials
George Washington is coming off its 13th NCAA Regional appearances in program history after qualifying for the Morgantown regional. GW is ranked No. 21 in the preseason coaches poll, and was picked to win the East Atlantic Gymnastics League. EAGL all-around champion Cami Drouin-Allaire returns to the team this season, along with 11 letterwinners from last season.
Scouting the Redhawks
Southeast Missouri finished fifth in the Midwest Independent Conference last season has just four upperclassman on the squad. The Redhawks’ best event was the floor last season, averaging 48.242. SEMO averaged a 48.015 on vault, a 47.523 on bars and a 48.242 on the floor.
Returning Two All-Americans
Mollie Korth and Alex Hyland were both named All-Americans last season. Korth earned All-America honors as an individual competitor after earning sixth in the All-Around with a score of 39.4500. That mark was highlighted by a 9.925 on bars, tying a career high and seventh place finish in the national meet. Hyland was a regular season All-American. She averaged a score of 9.894 over the course of the 2017 regular season, which was fourth in the nation.
Kentucky had two All-Americans for the first time since 1996, when Jenny Hansen and Robin Ewing were All-Americans.
Three Wildcats – Mollie Korth, Alex Hyland and Sidney Dukes – were All-SEC for their performance in the first session of the SEC Championships. Korth earned All-SEC for her first session all-around win with a 39.425. Hyland earned All-SEC with the SEC beam title while Dukes finished second in the first session on the beam with a 9.9 in the first session.
SEC Freshman of the Year
After winning four SEC Freshman of the Week awards, Mollie Korth was named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2017. Korth joined the record books as the sixth SEC Freshman of the Year in UK history. She joins Jenny Hansen (1993), Kristin Hoeferlin (1997), Ashley Burkholder (1998), Julia Gore (2000) and Whitney Rose (2009).
First Win Over Alabama
SEC powerhouse Alabama came to Memorial Coliseum last season, and after 70 failed attempts by the program, the Wildcats took down the Crimson Tide for the first time in school history after a program best score of 197.475. Mollie Korth paced the Wildcats, who posted a career high of 39.625 in the all-around. Her score of was the seventh highest in program history, and the best score from any Wildcat other than National Champion Jenny Hansen.
Highest Preseason Ranking Ever
In the Road to Nationals Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Kentucky is ranked 10th with 1,213 points. UK’s ranking is the highest preseason mark in program history. UK is the fourth-highest ranked SEC team, with Florida, LSU and Alabama.
SEC Beam Champion
Alex Hyland, with a score of 9.95 at the SEC Championships, became the first event SEC champion since Jenny Hansen won two events in 1996. Jenny Hansen won nine SEC Championships and is the only other Wildcat to accomplish the feat.
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