Just another day at the office for Alabama and a bittersweet finish for Kentucky.
Top-ranked Alabama overwhelmed the field Saturday in NCAA Regional Gymnastics competition at Memorial Coliseum.
The Crimson Tide finished with 197.400 points, just shy of their season-best 197.575. Alabama snared its NCAA-record 25th regional title and advanced to nationals for the 28th consecutive season.
No. 12 Nebraska edged No. 13 Illinois for second place — and a trip to NCAA nationals, April 22-24 at Florida — 195.975-195.425. Then came No. 24 Central Michigan (195.125), No. 20 UK (194.975) and Michigan State (194.475).
"We couldn't have beat Alabama. They're far too deep and talented," Kentucky Coach Mo Mitchell said. "We had a legitimate chance of taking second place, but we just didn't put it together. It was a little disappointing to end our season this way."
In addition to the top two teams, also advancing to nationals were the top two all-arounders from non-qualifying teams.
Alabama's Geralen Stack-Eaton took all-around honors, edging teammate Ashley Priess 39.550 to 39.525. Then came individual qualifiers Sarah Schmidt of Illinois (39.225) and Nicole Curler of Michigan State (39.175). UK's lone all-arounder, Andrea Mitchell, tied for 10th place.
The Wildcats are expected to learn Sunday if Whitney Rose will move on to nationals. She finished in a five-way tie for first place on vault, scoring 9.90.
Stack-Eaton, a sophomore from Horsham, Pa., tied for first on vault and bars, and tied for third on floor by scoring 9.90 in all three. She tied for second on beam with a 9.85. She was coming off the Southeastern Conference Championships, where she fell during her bars routine.
"I was just happy all-around. It just boosted my confidence from SECs, having a fall," Stack-Eaton said. "Now that I know I can do it, I'm just going to improve on that."
With six teams, UK and Alabama drew first-rotation byes. Then the Wildcats opened on bars and beam, their two weakest events.
"We knew if we could just hang in there on those two events that we could bring it home strong on the last two," Mitchell said.
UK did hang in there on bars, placing third with a 48.675.
Beam, though, was another matter. The Cats took last at 48.025.
UK placed third on the floor and tied for second on vault.
"I told them to 'don't let one event be indicative of our season,'" Mitchell said. "At SECs, we kind of let ourselves down on bars, and this meet we kind of let ourselves down on beam. ... The whole thing wasn't bad. It's just that when you end your season this way and then you've got five seniors who end their careers this way, you want it to be on a little bit better note."
The Cats were making their sixth consecutive regional appearance under Mitchell, and the team's 22nd overall.
Freshman Caitlyn Ciokajilo led UK on bars (9.80); senior Emily Green on beam (9.725); Green and junior Jasmine Minion on floor (9.90); and Rose, a sophomore, on vault (9.90). Phylicia Reshard, a junior, scored a career-high 9.85 on floor.
Green and Minion finished in a seven-way tie on floor. Wildcat watchers howled when Green's score was posted.
"I thought I deserved higher, too," she said. "But it's nice going out with a big finish and the crowd all cheering for you. And booing your score was nice.
"I'm glad I get appreciated and my floor routine gets appreciated."