By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
DULUTH, Ga. –
Tim Garrison is in his first season as the Kentucky head gymnastics coach, having led his squad to some of the most impressive team scores in school history. The 24th-ranked Wildcats are prepared to begin competition at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championships, which take place Saturday at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Garrison sat down with the SEC Digital Network to discuss his team in advance of Saturday’s meet.
SEC Digital Network: What is your team’s overall outlook heading into Saturday’s SEC Gymnastics Championships?
“They have a great outlook because we’ve consistently gotten better and better and better. We threw a lot at them in the beginning – when we first got here we threw a lot of conditioning at them and different things, and then throughout the season, it’s just been a lot of gymnastics thrown at them. Once they finally figured it out, and right around that Georgia meet, they started figuring it out, they’ve been hitting on all cylinders and it’s been nothing but forward from there.”
SEC Digital Network: How have you seen your team improve throughout the course of the season?
“I see it in their confidence. It’s one thing when you can talk to them and say ‘hey, you guys are good’ and you can tell them to believe and all these things, but unless they actually go out and perform it, they’re not going to buy in and they’re not going to believe it because they don’t know it for themselves. They had to prove it to themselves and I think that’s where they are right now. They’ve proven it to themselves that they deserve to do well and they deserve to hit the routines. You get consistent and all of a sudden your scores are there and your success is there. It’s not something that we told them, it’s something that through their hard work they’ve achieved and they’ve learned for themselves.”
SEC Digital Network: With every team that is competing in the top-25, how tough is the SEC Championship meet?
“It’s incredibly tough. The great part is that it comes down to one day. If you did it all on rankings, we wouldn’t have much of a shot. The facts are, it’s not based on rankings, we do it today in a seven-team meet. It’s going to be an uphill battle, no doubt. I don’t expect to walk in here and just run away with it, that’s for sure. But I think we’re consistent enough to where we can challenge and we can do well.”
SEC Digital Network: How do you feel that a meet like this helps prepare your team for the upcoming NCAA Regionals and Championships?
“I think it’s invaluable. I think you get in front of a great crowd, you get on a podium and you have to go through bye, which at regionals, you actually go through one less bye because there are six teams as opposed to seven. Another thing that’s important to me is that we’ve got two all-arounders who are critical to our success. Those two all-arounders have been warming up and competing all year long, they haven’t had to deal with sitting around and waiting, and then turning that switch back on. I think that’s going to be critical to their development towards the end of the season. Going into regionals, not having experienced that, it may have had some effect on them. Now, they get the opportunity to do that here, so I think it’s critical in a lot of ways for this meet to be such a great production.”
SEC Digital Network: Does competing on a podium make any difference for your gymnasts. Did you have to make any preparations for that?
“We actually did. We didn’t do anything for any other event other than beam, but we put our beam up on some staging to make them feel higher up and make them feel like it’s a little more bouncy, because the podium is a little more bouncy than if you were on a gym floor or a concrete floor. But for the other events, we did nothing extra to prepare other than just to let them know that it was going to be on podium.”