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    SEC Gymnastics Update: Saturday

     

    Kentucky Gymnastics Smashes School-Record Team Score 
     
    UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Kentucky gymnastics record total team score record lasted just two weeks as the Wildcats reached a new program best 196.775 on Saturday at Penn State.
     
    No. 16 Penn State won the meet with a 197.325 team score.
     
    No. 19 Kentucky has been assaulting the school record books in recent weeks as UK totaled a then school-record 196.5 on March 3 at Ball State, but that was just a primer for the Wildcats’ performance on Saturday.
     
    The Wildcats (7-5-1, 3-3-1) extended their school-record streak of scores more than 196 to four.
     
    Needing a 49.3 on balance beam, the meet’s final event, Kentucky smashed the program-record beam score with a 49.475. The previous school-best mark was 49.35 set in 2006.
     
    Alexis Gross enjoyed arguably the best meet of her career as she claimed event honors with collegiate-high scores on both vault and balance beam. Gross notched a 9.9 on bars, and received a 9.95 on balance beam. 
     
    Gross’ unprecedented beam score came in the clutch as she was the penultimate competitor of the night. Her 9.95 was third-highest on the event in school history. She tied PSU’s Sharaya Musser for the event crown as both received a 9.9 from judge one and a 10.0 from judge two as both averaged a 9.95 
     
    “Another great team performance tonight,“ head coach Tim Garrison said. “We did well on every event, but the highlight of the meet was beam hitting six-for-six and breaking the school record in the last event of the night. This team is learning how to finish meets. We are very close to where we need to be heading into our conference meet and the post-season.
     
    Holly Cunningham followed Gross’s tremendous beam performance with a superlative routine of her own. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native stuck her landing for a career-high 9.9 to solidify the unprecedented team score. 
     
    Neither Gross nor Cunningham had earned a 9.9 or higher on beam in their respective careers, and Gross had never notched such a score in any event before Saturday.
     
    Shannon Mitchell also earned her first career 9.9 on beam. Kayla Sienkowski led the event off with a career-high 9.875, while the always-dependable Audrey Harrison claimed a career-best tying 9.85.
     
    Kentucky began the meet with a 49.1 on uneven bars. Shelby Hilton tied her top collegiate mark with a 9.825 before Kayla Hartley and Harrison claimed 9.8s. Gross then began her record-setting evening as UK trailed 49.475-49.1 after the first rotation.
     
    With the high scores flowing throughout Rec Hall at the double dual – PSU and Michigan’s men’s teams were facing off in a top-two dual meet as well – the meet had the feel of one with the potential to be historic.
     
    Kentucky's uneven bars score tied for eighth-best in school history, and was second-highest this season.
     
    The Wildcats kept the momentum going on vault and floor exercise despite some debatable scoring decisions through the first three rotations.
     
    All of Kentucky’s last five vault competitor notched 9.8 or higher as Jill Chappel scored a 9.8, while Harrison, Kenzie Hedges and Cunningham each put up 9.85s. Shelby Hilton anchored with a 9.825 to book UK’s 49.1 on vault.
     
    Kentucky trailed 98.725-98.275 after two rotations.
     
    Kentucky stayed in position to attack the school records when the action shifted to floor. Mitchell tallied a 9.825, Harrison went 9.85 and Kayla Hartley scored 9.8 in the anchor position. Kentucky scored a 49.025 on floor as PSU took a 148.025-147.3 into the final stanza.
     
    The Wildcats entered beam knowing they would need a herculean effort as the team’s previous season-high in the event was 49.15. Kentucky bettered that total by .325. 

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    No. 12 Auburn Gymnastics Defeats Pitt

    PITTSBURGH – No. 12 Auburn Gymnastics defeated Pittsburgh 195.850-194.250 Saturday night in Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.
     
    “I’m proud, because our team fought hard all night,” Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. “They went 23-for-24 tonight, which is really what we are trying to accomplish. I thought we were pretty sharp tonight. I thought we brought our ‘A’ game and our best effort and we came away with a win.”
     
    The win marks the fourth-consecutive victory for the Tigers and sixth in seven meets.
     
    Auburn jumped ahead in the second rotation with a total of 48.925 on vault. Caitlin Atkinson turned in the top score with a 9.825. Toi Garcia and Bri Guy added twin scores of 9.8. Pitt scored 48.325 on bars.
     
    In the third rotation, Auburn produced the two highest event scores thus far in the meet with 9.85 totals by Guy and Garcia in floor exercise. Atkinson added a 9.825 as the Tigers scored 48.975 to widen their total score advantage.
     
    Auburn got four scores of 9.825 on beam from Petrina Yokay, Abbey Habicht, Guy and Atkinson. Caryn Kadous also turned chipped in with a 9.8 as the Tigers totaled 49.100 on balance beam, their highest event score of the night.
     
    The Tigers trailed after the first rotation 48.900-48.850. Auburn got scores of 9.8 from Bri Guy and Megan Walker on uneven bars in the opening rotation to lead the team.

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    Nation’s Top Road Score Not Enough as No. 2 Florida Gymnastics Defeated at No. 7 Utah
     
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The No. 2 Florida gymnastics team (8-2, 6-1 SEC) closed out 2013 regular-season action with a 198.125-197.875 loss at No. 7 Utah (10-2-1, 4-1-1 Pac-12) Saturday evening in front of a Jon M. Huntsman Center crowd of 14,903.
     
    Although it was a loss, the Gators didn’t look disappointed post meet.
     
    “They did a great job everywhere and fought for every little thing. And then of course on the last event which is the most important when everything is on the line to go six-for-six and compete aggressively. There was no holding back and the team was not tentative at all. I loved that,” UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn said.
     
    It was a high-scoring meet Saturday as Utah’s total ranks as the nation’s third-highest score of 2013, while Florida’s score checks in as the nation’s fifth-highest of the season. The Gators’ score also stands as the nation’s top road score of 2013.
     
    The meet also produced some of the nation’s top all-around totals. Florida freshman Bridget Sloan shared her fourth all-around title of the season with Utah’s Georgia Dabritz at 39.70. Just behind them at 39.65 was Gator sophomore Kytra Hunter and Utah’s Tory Wilson.
     
    The 39.70 shares the nation’s third-highest mark of the season, behind Hunter’s 39.80 and Sloan’s 39.75 set on March 1.
     
    “I was extremely proud of our athletes coming away with the nation’s highest road score so far this entire year. It will help our RQS (regional qualifying score, which is used to rank the nation’s teams) and will help us go back to the No. 1 spot heading into the conference championships,” Faehn said. “I feel like we came out and we accomplished so much here and I am so proud of the team. And it really did prepare and help fuel them for what lies ahead this next week at the SEC Championships. And they are so excited. We finished beam and I told them how proud I was of them and that this type of performance is a performance that was going to help them challenge to win SECs, Regionals and Nationals.”
     
    The Florida-Utah meet airs tape-delayed on the Pac-12 Network<http://pac-12.com/portals/0/content/enterprises/programming/network.pdf> at 8 p.m. ET on March 21, 7 p.m. ET on March 22 and 12:30 p.m. ET on March 23.
     
    The Gators opened the meet with its third-highest uneven bars total of 2013, 49.55. Florida’s final four competitors all turned in marks of 9.90 or better including Sloan. She led the Gators with a 9.975 – her third consecutive meet with the nearly perfect mark. She registered the mark on bars on Feb. 22 and on beam on March 1.
     
    Florida also received marks of 9.925 from junior Mackenzie Caquatto and 9.90s from Hunter and Marissa King.
     
    Hunter led the Gators on the vault, sharing the event title with Utah’s Tory Wilson at 9.975. It was Hunter’s third consecutive nearly-perfect mark on vault and was the sixth time of her last 12 team vault performances she’s earned her collegiate-best on the event.
     
    The Utes took the mid-point lead after raising their uneven bars season-best by three-tenths to a 49.60. Dabritz ended the Utes’ bar lineup with a career-best 10.0 to take the event title.
     
    At the mid-way point, Utah held a 99.05 to 99.00 edge over Florida.
     
    The Gators performed well on floor on the third rotation. A pair of 9.9s from Hunter and Sloan led the Gators on the event as the team posted a 49.375.
     
    The Utes extended their lead to a tenth heading in the final rotation after posting a season-best of 49.425 on balance beam.
     
    Florida finished with a six-for-six set on the beam to earn its second-highest total on the event (49.50) of the season. Sloan’s 9.95 claimed her second consecutive title on the event. Senior Ashanée Dickerson posted a season-best 9.925 to share second overall with Utah’s Kassandra Lopez.
     
    As strong as the Gators finished, they couldn’t overcome the Utes as they turned in their season-best of 49.65 on floor. Dabritz claimed the floor win with a 9.975.
     
    Although they wanted the win, the Gators left the Huntsman Center feeling positive about their performance.
     
    “It’s always nice to walk away from a competition knowing you did your best. And I think all of us Gators did our best,” Sloan said. “Our energy was the highest ever on a road meet and our team score was incredible. A 197.875 – that is unreal! And it just feels really good to be able to compete this weekend knowing we hit all our routines and we got the scores.
     
    “Going on into next week, obviously we have a big meet coming up at SECs,” she continued. “Now we are feeling great, everyone looks great and it will be a great competition.”