UK gymnastics struggles, fails to advance in NCAAs


Emily Green performs on the beam at the women’s gymnastics SEC tournament on Saturday, April 10, 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

By Chandler Howard

The regional round of the NCAA gymnastics tournament lived up to the hype, but even with home-gym advantage and record crowd support, the UK gymnasts were unable to match the buildup.

UK hosted the NCAA Central Regional Championship at Memorial Coliseum, one of six sites to showcase a regional championship. The top two teams from each of the six regions advanced to NCAA finals in Gainesville, Fla.

The qualifiers competing were No. 1 Alabama, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Illinois, No. 20 UK, No. 24 Central Michigan and No. 27 Michigan State.

Due to the format of the competition, each of the six teams received a bye in two of the six rotations. UK sat out during the first and fourth round.

After its bye, UK kicked off its regional appearance on the uneven bars. The team posted the third-highest performance of the competition with a 48.675. Freshman Caitlyn Ciokajlo finished the event with a team-high 9.800.

The Gym Cats then competed in the beam exercise. No UK athlete was able to post higher than 9.725, which led to the lowest combined team score of the night on the beam.

“We did OK on the first event but we thought we could go to beam and really put it together,” UK head coach Hajile “Mo” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen that way. I told the team not to let one event be indicative of our season.”

The fifth rotation gave way to a glimmer of hope for UK as it posted the second-highest floor exercise score of the competition. Junior Jasmine Minion and senior Emily Green each finished with a 9.900, which was tied for the third-highest score of the competition. Junior Phylicia Reshard also performed a career-high 9.850 in the event.

The Cats were able to come away with a combined 49.075 on the vault exercise. The score was tied for the third highest of the six teams’ performances. Sophomore Whitney Rose finished with a 9.900, tying for first in the event.

But UK’s successful conclusion was not enough to pull it within the top two spots, as it finished fifth.

Top-ranked Alabama looked up to form as it rolled easily past its opposition snagging the first position with a final score of 197.400. Nebraska took second place, finishing with a 195.975.

“We truly wanted to be the team who went to nationals for the first time in school history,” Green said. “It just didn’t happen for us tonight.”