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    SEC Gymnastics Today: March 2

    No. 4 Gym Dogs Post Season-High In Win Over No. 3 UCLA

    ATHENS, Ga. - The fourth-ranked University of Georgia Gym Dogs (6-3) outpaced the third-ranked UCLA Bruins (9-2-1) 197.700 - 196.975 on Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum.

    Georgia was ignited by season-high team totals on vault and beam and tied its season-best on bars to post the highest overall team score since the victory over UCLA on March 6, 2010. Georgia now leads the country with 24 consecutive rotations of scoring a 49.0 or better.

    “Today, there was something in the water," said head coach Jay Clark. "We all got up and we all commented about it. I was as calm as water that looks like grass. It was unbelievable. They had a sense of confidence. This morning when we all started getting around the gym you could just feel the buzz starting to come. They stayed on message really for the first time this year in that they competed from a really free, loose, aggressive mindset. They were having fun. They were out there joking around and having a good time.”

    Kat Ding won the all-around title for the third time this season with a score of 39.65, the highest all-around score for a Georgia gymnast since Courtney Kupets and Tiffany Tolnay at the 2009 NCAA Super Six. Noel Couch, who has competed in school record 23-straight all-arounds, posted a career-high 39.550.

    “We’ve been working on this for the entire year”, said Ding. “We’ve been talking about staying consistent but we needed to show some sort of a peak and this was a great night to start and we’re going to keep going in that direction. This was a great ending to a rough week. The hard weeks mean so much more when you can work hard and have a positive outcome.”

    The Gym Dogs scored a season-high team vault total with a 49.450. Chelsea Davis, who led off on vault for the ninth time this season, sparked Georgia with a 9.85. Couch and Sarah Persinger followed by tying their season-highs, scoring 9.9 and 9.85, respectively. After Cat Hires 9.9 performance, Ding tied her career-best with a 9.95.

    Georgia, who ranks second nationally on bars, tied their season-best score with 49.375 highlighted by Davis who scored a career-high 9.95. Gina Nuccio then tied her season-high bar routine with 9.9 to push the Gym Dogs to lead UCLA 98.825 - 98.750 after two rotations.

    The Gym Dogs posted a 49.475 on beam, the highest team total on beam this season. Couch and Laura Moffatt paced UGA by scoring career-best performances of 9.9 and 9.875, respectively. Ding kept Georgia on a roll, earning her career-high beam score of 9.925 followed by a 9.85 for Sarah Persinger, also a career-best.

    Persinger tied her season-high of 9.875 on on floor, followed by Ding's career-best 9.925. Nuccio posted a 9.875 while Couch finished with a 9.9 to give the Gym Dogs a team total of 49.400 on floor.

    Georgia will travel to Michigan next Friday before the regular season finale at Stegeman Coliseum against NC State for Senior Day on Sunday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m.



    Alabama Gymnastics Falls at No. 2 Oklahoma, 197.300-197.150

    NORMAN, Okla. – The No. 5 Alabama gymnastics team fell to the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners Friday by a score of 197.300-197.150. It marked Alabama’s first loss of the season, dropping the Crimson Tide to 9-1-0 overall and 6-0-0 in Southeastern Conference competition. The Sooners improve to 16-2-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the Big XII. 

    “Oklahoma is the No. 2 in the country and they’ve been scoring this way for a reason,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I’m certainly all about winning, but sometimes when something like this happens to your team, and they’re a little disappointed, I don’t think that hurts us in the long run. I think we’ll get back in the gym and it will really help us focus on the things that can make us better.”

    It was Alabama’s highest road score of the season and fourth 197-plus score in its last five meets. The Tide was led by senior Geralen Stack-Eaton, who won the all-around with a season-high 39.525.  Stack-Eaton and senior Ashley Priess won the vault with matching 9.95s while junior Ashley Sledge won the uneven bars with a 9.925.

    The Tide finished off the night with a 48.925 on the balance beam, led by 9.825s from sophomore Kim Jacob and Sledge. Sledge was a last minute substitution after a sore ankle sidelined senior Ashley Priess.

    “We had a little bit of a glitch at the end where Ashley Priess’ ankle locked up and I had to make a substitution right at the end,” Patterson said. “To see Ashley Sledge come in and score 9.825 when she didn’t expect to be in the competitive beam lineup, I think that is the kind of things that are going to help us at the end.”

    Alabama started the meet off on fire, putting together a season-high 49.450 on the uneven bars after all six gymnasts scored 9.85 or better led by Sledge’s 9.925, which tied her career-best. Jacob, who made her 2012 debut on the uneven bars, scored a career-best 9.85 while freshman Kaitlyn Clark scored a career-best 9.9. Sophomore Sarah DeMeo led the Tide off with a 9.85, which tied her season best while Stack-Eaton tied her season best with a 9.9.

    Stack-Eaton and Priess paced the Tide to a 49.525 on the vault with matching scores of 9.95. It was a career-best mark for Priess, whose previous best was 9.9. The rest of the Tide’s lineup came away with matching 9.875s. Through its first two rotations, Alabama scored nothing less than a 9.85, giving it a .475 lead going into the second half of the meet.

    Alabama then turned in a solid floor exercise score of 49.25 after junior Marissa Gutierrez and Stack-Eaton closed out the rotation with scores of 9.9.

    “We started off strong with our first two events and I thought we did a good job on the floor exercise where we switched things around and got some new people out on there,” Patterson said. “We’re getting to the end of the season where we have to get some different people some experience.”

    After back-to-back weeks on the road, Alabama returns home Friday, March 9 when it will face Missouri in the Tide's Tornado Relief Meet starting at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum. Tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum or online at RollTide.com.



    Pisani’s Titles Lead to Razorback Victory
               
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Led by senior All-American Jaime Pisani’s five individual titles, Arkansas’ eighth-ranked gymnastics team closed its regular-season home schedule with a 196.325-195.475 victory over No. 18 Minnesota in Barnhill Arena on Friday.
               
    Although it was the final regular-season meet at home, Barnhill Arena is the site of this year’s NCAA South Central Regional, set for April 7 at 4 p.m.
               
    Friday’s meet was Senior Night for Pisani, Mariah Howdeshell and Genny Salvatore.
               
    The win improved Arkansas’ record to 10-5 with nine wins against teams ranked in the top 25.
               
    With all-arounder Jordan Salsberg out for the year with a knee injury and freshman Stephani Canizaro out after competing in three events the last two meets, and with All-American Katherine Grable, ranked No. 1 in the nation in the all-around, limited to two events due to an injury, the Razorbacks had to shuffle their lineup on Friday.
               
    With those changes, junior Amy Borsellino competed on bars for the first time in her career, Howdeshell on vault for just the second time this year and freshman Sammy Kolbas on bars for the first time.
               
    “This week was interesting,” co-head coach René Cook said. “We lost Jordan and Stephani wasn’t able to go, and Katherine was limited. With the lineup changes, we had a lot of new faces out there. We only had five on floor. I think it was outstanding. They really showed what we’re made of.”
               
    Pisani won the all-around title with a 39.675, vault with a 9.90, tied for the bars title with Howdeshell with a 9.925, beam with a 9.90 and floor with a 9.95.
               
    “It was an awesome night for us,” Pisani said. “Everyone in the lineup was awesome. We went out and tried to have fun tonight. Everyone stepped up and did their job.”
               
    “Jaime is amazing,” Cook said. “She’s so athletic and has a great time out there.”
               
    Arkansas opened with a 49.10 on vault, led by Pisani’s 9.90. Borsellino had a season-high 9.85. Sophomore Bailee Zumwalde had a 9.80, and Howdeshell and sophomore Scarlett Williams each scored a 9.775.
               
    Minnesota scored a 48.675 on bars, led by Lucy Ennis with a 9.825, but the Gophers were forced to count a 9.60 and a 9.65.
               
    In the second rotation, Arkansas scored a 49.375 on bars, which ties for the third-best score in school history. Howdeshell and Pisani, both tied for No. 6 in the nation, had a 9.925 each. Sophomore Shelby Salmon had a 9.875, Borsellino and Grable a 9.825, and freshman Samantha Kolbas a 9.80.
               
    Minnesota had a 49.125 on vault, led by Jenny Covers with a 9.875.
               
    Through two events, Arkansas led 98.475-97.800.
               
    In the third rotation, Arkansas scored a 48.775. The Razorbacks were led by Pisani’s 9.90. Williams had a 9.775, junior All-American Kelci Lewis had a 9.725, Grable a 9.70 and Kolbas a 9.675.
               
    The Gophers had a 49.10 on floor, led by Janell Campbell’s 9.875.
               
    Heading into the final event, Arkansas led 147.25-146.90.
               
    In the final rotation, with only five floor workers in the lineup, Arkansas posted a 49.075.
               
    Pisani, ranked No. 1 in the nation, led with a 9.95. Lewis had a 9.875, Borsellino a 9.85, Zumwalde a 9.80 and Williams a 9.60.
               
    Minnesota recorded a 48.575 on beam, led by Shannon Golich with a 9.875.
               
    The Razorbacks close the regular season at West Virginia next week and at Missouri the following week.



    No. 10 LSU Defeats N.C. State

    BATON ROUGE – The 10th-ranked LSU gymnastics team knocked off No. 20 North Carolina State 196.550-194.875 in the Fifth Annual Etta James Memorial Meet in front of the fourth-largest home crowd in school history as 5,159 fans witnessed the victory inside the Maravich Center Friday night.

    Freshman Lloimincia Hall earned her second all-around title of the season with a 39.425 total, including an amazing 9.975 floor performance that is tied for the nation’s best score in the event.

    After the meet it was announced that LSU Athletics and the Baton Rouge community raised $100,000 for Bradie James’ Foundation 56. The money will go back into the local community to fight breast cancer.

    The 196.550 team score will count toward LSU’s regional qualifying score (RQS) when the newest rankings are released Monday because the Tigers will be able to drop the 195.750 scored at Georgia on Jan. 28.

    “I am happy with the win, but I am not satisfied with the score because we are better than this performance and we are giving away landings,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “To compete at the next level we are going to have to stick landings and perform with much better control.

    “We did things better this week than last week, and this team has done a great job of staying in the process and responding to what we need to do in practice. When they come all the way around, it will be a breakthrough performance and we will score a 197.”

    LSU (5-8) posted a season-high 49.225 on bars and just missed the season best on floor with a 49.325. The Tigers also produced a 49.025 on beam and a 48.975 on vault.

    Hall took home the floor and all-around titles to increase her season total to seven individual titles, and Rheagan Courville earned the vault and bars crowns to move to 15 total titles this season. Sarie Morrison tallied the bars title as well, marking her first individual title of the season and 13th of her career.

    On vault LSU counted scores from Courville (9.875), Kaleigh Dickson (9.80), Hall (9.775) and Ashley Lee (9.775), and the Tigers also received 9.75’s from Jessie Jordan and Randi Lau.

    For the first time this season an LSU gymnast earned a 9.90 on bars as Morrison recorded the score first and Courville made it back-to-back 9.90’s at the end of the lineup. Hall produced a 9.825, and Jordan and Lau both tallied 9.80’s to give LSU the season-high 49.225.

    Hall, Jordan and Lau all registered 9.85’s to lead the Tigers on beam, and LSU also counted a 9.75 from Ericka Garcia and a 9.725 from Kaleigh Dickson.

    On floor, Maliah Mathis tallied a season-high 9.90 while Courville scored a 9.85 and Jordan recorded a 9.825. The Tigers also used a 9.775 from Dickson to go along with Hall’s outstanding 9.975 to end the meet.

    “I love floor,” Hall said. “It’s my favorite event because I have so much fun when I perform it, especially in front of our great home crowd.”

    NC State (9-4) was led by Stephanie Ouellette who finished third in the all-around with a 39.000 score and Lane Jarred who won the beam title with a 9.875.

    In five years of hosting the Etta James Memorial Meet, LSU and the community have raised more than $250,000 to support Foundation 56’s efforts to fight breast cancer in Baton Rouge.

    “Bradie is the shining example of what we aspire our LSU student-athletes to do by giving back not only to the university but to the community,” Breaux said. “A lot of people worked tirelessly to generate money for Foundation 56, and we saw tonight how giving and supportive our community and the ‘James Gang’ are. Tonight was a tremendous event.”
     
    LSU will head back on the road next week as the Tigers travel to face Iowa at 7 p.m. CT in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Live audio will be available on www.LSUsports.net/live.



    Auburn Defeats Southern Utah, 196.700-193.150


    AUBURN – Senior Kylie Shields had a career night in the all-around competition with a total of 39.475 as she led No. 15 Auburn to a 196.700-193.150 win over Southern Utah on Friday in Auburn Arena.

    “It’s been really fun to watch Kylie,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “We want her to go out on a good note. She was feeling a little bit of pressure the last couple weeks. This week, she started to settle down and it’s nice to see her come out with one of the best performances of her career.”

    The Tigers posted their second-highest score of the year and their third total over 196.000 on Friday night, something that will aid Auburn as it seeks to improve its national standing with NCAA Regionals approaching. The score also ties for the fourth-best total in program history, joining the 196.700 against LSU in 2006.

    “We talked as a staff beforehand and we feel like the team is starting to feel comfortable in their gymnastics and comfortable in their roles,” Graba said. “It’s fun to watch. Every good score is important. Going over 196.000 is important to us because it helps our RQS. We were excited to see that. I’m really excited to go 24-for-24 and do good gymnastics in the process. “

    Auburn put together its best vault score of the season in rotation one and jumped out to an early lead. Led by a 9.850 from Kylie Shields and a quartet of 9.825 scores, the Tigers scored 49.150 on the apparatus.

    The second-highest uneven bars total of the season for Auburn widened the gap even more after two rotations, 98.575-96.550. A career high tying 9.925 for Shields, along with a 9.900 from Petrina Yokay paced the Tigers as they posted a team score of 49.425 on bars. Allyson Sandusky added a 9.925 and Megan Walker scored 9.850.

    The Tigers scored 48.875 on beam without a fall. Led by a 9.850 from Shields and a pair of 9.800 scores from Yokay and Bri Guy, Auburn stretched its lead to 147.450-145.000 after three rotations.

    Shields tied her career high on floor with a solid 9.850 run as Auburn secured the victory. Guy capped the fourth rotation with a career-best 9.950 on floor to end the night in exciting fashion and finish Auburn’s total of 49.250 on floor.

    Guy finished second in the all-around with her score of 39.350. Southern Utah’s only all-arounder, Caitlin Kennedy, finished with 38.375. Auburn posted the highest individual score on each event, with Shields recording the leading total in three events.

    Auburn is in action next on March 9 at Southeast Missouri State.



    Kentucky Gymnastics Posts Season-Best Score, Defeats Top-25 Opponent

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky gymnastics team continued where it left off last week, shattering its season-best overall team score with a 195.950 to earn its second-consecutive win over a top-25 opponent in a 195.950-195.750 victory at No. 21 Illinois on Friday inside Huff Hall.

    The high team score for Kentucky (6-6, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) is it’s best since posting a 196.05 in 2010 against Kent State. UK has also scored a 195.5 or higher in back-to-back meets for the first time since midway through the 2010 season.
     
    “This team took another step forward today and I couldn’t be more proud,” said UK head coach Tim Garrison, who is in his first season at the helm of the UK program. “Going on the road against a top-25 team and coming out with a win shows that they are beginning to believe in themselves. It’s fun to watch them grow more confident in training and then apply that in competition.”
     
    The Wildcats defeated Illinois on vault and floor exercise, while junior Caitlyn Ciokajlo took home event honors on uneven bars and sophomore Kayla Hartley won the floor title. Overall, Kentucky set or tied 10 season highs and 10 career highs in the meet

    UK has performed well on the road this season, earning 195-plus team scores in three of their last four road meets. Kentucky posted a then-season high 195.05 at Illinois-Chicago on Jan. 28, before matching that performance in a dual meet at LSU on Feb. 3. Two weeks ago, UK had a setback at top-five ranked Georgia, scoring a 193.125. The Wildcats have answered in the two meets since its loss to UGA with 195.525 last week and the impressive 195.95 on Friday.

    Coach Garrison’s squad was fantastic on vault, scoring a season-best team score of 49.125. The high mark is the best for the Wildcats since it set the school record with a 49.4 last year in a dual meet at Ohio State. An impressive total of five of the six gymnasts on vault for UK set or tied a career high. Morris and freshman Kenzie Hedges led Kentucky on the event with Morris setting a career-high 9.85 and Hedges tying a career best with the same score. Harrison also tied a career high with a 9.825, while fellow sophomore Holly Cunningham also scored a 9.825. Gross and fellow freshman Shelby Hilton each scored a 9.775, which tied a career best for Gross and set a career high for Hilton.

    The win for UK was sealed on balance beam, where it posted a season-best team score of 49.050, which is only the 10th time in school history UK has posted a 49.05 or higher on the event. Four Wildcats posted a 9.8 or higher on beam, including three that posted 9.825s. Sophomore Kayla Sienkowski tied a career high with a 9.825, while Harrison set a career high with the same score. Morris also grabbed a 9.825 on the event, followed by Cunningham, who posted a 9.8. Gross tied a career best with a 9.775, while Mitchell also scored a 9.775.

    Kentucky started the night on uneven bars, posting the second-best team score of the season on the event with a mark of 48.85. Ciokajlo led UK on bars with a 9.85, marking the third-consecutive meet that she has posted a 9.85 or higher on bars. Morris and Harrison were also solid, posting 9.775s, while freshman Sara Shipley scored a 9.75. Gross continued her consistency on the event with a 9.7, while senior Whitney Rose grabbed a 9.625.

    The Wildcats earned a team score of 48.925 on floor exercise. Hartley led UK and finished tied for first overall on the event with an impressive 9.85, while Harrison followed with a 9.8.  Hedges finished third on the team with a 9.775, while Hilton, Sienkowski and Gross each posted 9.75s.

    Harrison and Gross finished third and fourth respectively in the all-around competition by posting career-high marks. Harrison grabbed a 39.225, while Gross followed with a 39.0.

    Last year, Illinois and Kentucky faced off in a season-opening tri-meet in Memorial Coliseum with UK finishing first with a 194.350. The Fighting Illini were second with a 193.65, while Northern Illinois was third with a 189.075. This was Kentucky’s first-ever meet in Champaign, Ill.

    The Wildcats will be back in action again next Sunday when it plays host to the final home meet of the year against George Washington and Ball State. The meet will serve as Senior Night for Kentucky as it honors the four-year accomplishments of Rose and Morris. The meet is scheduled to begin 2 p.m. ET.