Kentucky gymnastics set for first NCAA Championships

Alex Hyland (Vicky Graff Photo)

ST. LOUIS – After posting a 197.050 at the NCAA Minneapolis Regional, the Kentucky gymnastics team qualified for the 2018 NCAA Championships for the first time in program history. UK will compete in Friday’s second semifinal meet at 7 p.m. live on ESPNU inside the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.  Bart Conner, Kathy Johnson Clarke and Laura Rutledge will be on the call.
 
The Wildcats are set to compete against Utah, Washington, California, Oklahoma and Florida in the meet. The top three teams from each of Friday’s semifinal meets will move on to Saturday’s Super Six meet. Arkansas, Nebraska, Georgia, LSU, Alabama and UCLA will compete in the first semifinal at 1 p.m. UK has faced six of the teams in the semifinals this season. Kentucky met OU at the NCAA Regional, while UK faced the five other Southeastern Conference teams during the regular season and at the SEC Championships.
 
All rotations were predetermined by random draw, and Kentucky will start the meet on the bye before heading to the bars. The Wildcats will compete on the beam before another bye and will wrap up the meet on floor and vault.
 
All-Americans, Individual event champions and all-around champions will be determined during the semifinal competition.
 
Nationals For the First Time Ever
UK posted a 197.050, sending them to the National Semifinals for the first time in program history. Oklahoma finished first in the regional, while UK defeated Denver, Iowa, Iowa State and Minnesota. The 197.050 was the third-best score in program history and just the fourth time UK posted a score above 197.000.
 
A Record Bars Performance at the Right Time
The Wildcats went into the final rotation down .150 to Denver. UK responded with a 49.400 on the bars, pushing past the Pioneers to send UK to St. Louis.
 
The 49.400 was the highest bars score in school history by .75. Mollie Korth, Katrina Coca and Ella Warren all pulled out 9.9s, with Warren’s being a career high. Alex Hyland went 9.875, and Katie Stuart rounded out the scoring.
 
Region Coach of the Year
Kentucky gymnastics head coach Tim Garrison was named Central Region head coach of the year, the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women (NACGC/W) announced. The award is Kentucky’s first regional honor in program history.
 
Second in the All-Around
Alex Hyland posted one of her best all-around performances of her career for a second place finish at the NCAA Minnesota Regional with a 39.550. Hyland had two 9.9s, including a second place finish on the vault.
 
Regular Season All-America
Mollie Korth was named a 2018 regular season All-American for the second-straight year after finishing the regular season with an all-around 39.475 regional qualifying score, good for 14th in the country. Korth averaged a 39.225 in the all-around and competed in all four events at every meet but one this season. Her high of 39.625 this season tied her career best and is the second highest all-around score from a Wildcat behind eight-time NCAA National Champion Jenny Hansen. The Cambridge, Wisconsin native finished 15th in the nation on the vault, earning her All-America distinction in that event as well. Korth scored a season-high 9.95 in the event and had an RQS of 9.9.
 
SEC Champion
Junior Sidney Dukes took home a share of the SEC floor championship after a 9.9 at the SEC Championships. As a team, UK finished fourth with a score of 196.550.
 
All-SEC
Three Wildcats were named All-SEC for their performances at the SEC Championships. The top-two scores from each session earn All-SEC honors, and Dukes, junior Alex Hyland and sophomore Mollie Korth won the award.

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