In a game of numbers like gymnastics, sometimes one low score is enough to cost a team a win.
According to UK gymnastics head coach Tim Garrison, minor mistakes made a “huge difference” in his team’s elimination at the National Semifinals on Friday night.
“If you make mistakes in an environment like this, they are absolutely critical,” Garrison said. “You’re gonna have a tough time fighting back.”
When Kentucky opened on the bars in the second rotation, Katrina Coca had her second-lowest score of the season with a 9.3250. The junior from Stillwater, Oklahoma, has won four individual bar events of her career, winning three of them this season.
But, when the stakes were the highest, Garrison said she made “a technical mistake."
“She (Katrina) just made a mistake. If you’re off just by just a fraction, then mistakes happen,” Garrison said.
Aside from Coca, Alex Hyland also struggled on the bars tonight. Hyland had a 9.2625 on the bars, her lowest bars score this season. It’s .4625 points lower than her previous season low.
In the following rotation on the beam, Hyland’s usual top event, she had a 9.2500. This is another season low for her, .55 points lower than her previous season low.
Despite a comeback on the floor with a 9.8500, her struggles continued with a 9.3375 on the vault, another season low. She was named All-SEC for her 9.9 on the vault at the SEC Championships last month.
“Alex made a mistake on the first event tonight, and I don’t think she could let it go,” Garrison said. “For her it’s a matter of ‘I’ve been so consistent for this team and I need to be that tonight.'”
Second-team All-American Mollie Korth said that, for herself, despite her 9.925 vault performance tying for fourth among all vault competitors, “it was hard to be confident."
“The intimidation factor of other teams got to me,” Korth said. “Facing the top 12 teams in the nation, you know, I just think we were the underdogs.”
Sidney Dukes, the co-SEC champion on the floor this season, scored on the lower end of her personal stats. Her 9.825 on the floor tonight is the third time she’s scored a 9.825 or lower this year.
While the Cats had their share of shortcomings Friday, Garrison said he’s more focused on something else.
“I wanted to focus on the accomplishments of this season,” Garrison said. “My first question to them was, ‘When is the last time the University of Kentucky gymnastics team went to nationals?’ They all answered in unison, ‘Never.'"
Other than Korth’s vault score, Ella Warren’s and Danaea Davis’s 9.8625 and Alaina Kwan’s 9.85 served as notable highs for a team that’s new to the biggest stage.
“Teamwise, I think what we took away from this is that we can compete,” Korth said.
Garrison said that, after Friday’s competition, he sees this as “preparation for next year, physically and mentally."
“It’s the beginning of the climb,” Garrison said.