(photo courtesy of UK Athletics)
There is a top 10 team at Kentucky that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves and that is the gymnastics team. This is a team that was relatively unknown 5 years ago but a very strong senior class has vaulted the Cats into the upper tier of college gymnastics. They head into this year’s tournament as the 9-seed. The team begins their quest for an NCAA crown today in Athens in what is a unique tournament format. It’s a 4-step process:
STEP 1 (Regional): Finish in the Top 2 of 4-team region between 8-seed Georgia, Missouri, and Iowa State
STEP 2 (Regional Finals): Finish in the Top 2 of 4-team regional final that, if seeds hold, would be 1-seed Oklahoma, 8-seed Georgia, and 16-seed California
STEP 3 (National Championship Semis): Finish in the Top 2 of a 4-team semifinal
STEP 4 (National Championship Finals): Beat the remaining 3 teams for the title
UK is certainly a threat to make the National semifinals as they did for the first time in school history last year, finishing 6th overall. But every step of the way will be a challenge. I attended the match against Central Michigan at the end of the season and multiple times in promo videos and Senior Night festivities, the push to make the National Finals was mentioned. This group is led by a group of accomplished seniors: Alex Hyland, Katie Stuart, Danaea Davis and Sydney Dukes. It is truly amazing what these women can do in the various events they compete in. I would highly recommend taking the time watch these super athletes. And the meets move very quickly.
Today’s regional matches can be followed on ESPN3.