Coming off a win against No. 2 LSU at home last week – its second straight home victory over a top five opponent – UK gymnastics could not pick up another in its regular season finale against Georgia, falling in Athens 197.325-196.900 in the regular season finale.
Kentucky tied Georgia in the first rotation, which saw the Cats on bars and Bulldogs on vault, at 49.250 apiece. Sophomore Raena Worley anchored the Wildcats with a career-high-tying 9.900. Bailey Bunn and reigning SEC Specialist of the Week Cally Nixon each recorded 9.850’s, while freshman Hailey Davis tied a season-high mark of 9.825.
The Cats struggled on vault, ending at 49.075. Junior Josie Angeny’s 9.850 was tops on the team in the event. Kentucky watched Bulldog senior Megan Roberts pace her team with a 9.925 on the bars and lead them to a 49.300 score, putting them in a 98.550-98.325 hole halfway through competition.
The Wildcats scored a third consecutive 49-point rotation on its floor exercise, which included a season-high 9.775 by sophomore Raina Albores. Worley again served as the driving force, putting up a match-high 9.925 on the apparatus.
Unfortunately for Kentucky, Georgia was setting a new season-high on beam while they took the floor. Three different Bulldogs – Rachel Baumann, Haley De Jong and Marissa Oakley – totaled 9.925 or higher to spark an impressive 49.475 team score. This put the Cats against an even deeper deficit ahead of the final task.
Like Georgia, the Cats showed well on beam, tying their best beam performance of the season with a 49.350. The score also represented their best team tally of the night. Angeny led the Cats by scoring a 9.875, which brought her all-around score to 39.400.
The Bulldogs, though, would not be denied. They totaled a 49.300 on the floor, wrapping a bow on their thoroughly outstanding win. Despite recording its third-highest overall team score, Kentucky was outgunned in each apparatus with Georgia clearly using the energy and emotion of Senior Night to fuel a season-high overall squad total.
“We have made major strides this season and are capable of performing at a high level consistently,” Wildcat head coach Tim Garrison said post-match, according to a university release. “Tonight wasn't a perfect night by any means, but we managed a respectable score in a tough loss.”
Worley again was the top Kentucky all-around performer despite a 9.775 on vault weighing her down. The Virginia native notched at least 9.900 in each of the other three events on her way to a 39.500.
The loss drops Kentucky to 4-4 to end the regular season. Every school the Cats faced was in the College Gymnastic Association’s top-20 at the time of the meeting, and are all still in the nation’s top-22 currently.
Next up for Kentucky is a trip to Huntsville, Alabama for the SEC Championship on Mar. 20. The conference title matches will be broadcast on SEC Network, with a time to be announced.
Braden Ramsey contributed to this report.