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Beam costs Cats as Arkansas rallies in gymnastics

Whitney Rose is one of two seniors on Kentucky's roster as the 2012 gymnastics season begins.
Whitney Rose is one of two seniors on Kentucky's roster as the 2012 gymnastics season begins.

What's the opposite of Dream Team?

For Kentucky's gymnasts, the answer is Beam Team.

Leading No. 13 Arkansas after two rotations Friday, UK fell apart on the balance beam for the second week in a row as the Razorbacks rallied for a 194.925-193.525 Southeastern Conference victory in Memorial Coliseum.

Last week, beam bobbles sank the Wildcats' chances against top-ranked Florida.

Friday, leading 97.575 to Arkansas' 97.325 after completing vault and bars, three Cats fell off the beam.

Whitney Rose, who opened the night with her 12th career title and 11th on vault, was first to fall. The slip seemed contagious as Jasmine Minion and Storey Morris later fell.

"I feel like it is (contagious), and I feel like I set the tone," Rose said. "We're just going to work hard and it'll come together as long as we stay together. That's a tough event — it's all mental."

No. 27 UK (2-2, 0-2 SEC) will host No. 5 Georgia next weekend.

Beam is "a recurring problem, but we can do a lot better in every event," assistant coach Chuck Dickerson said. "We're not going to put all the emphasis on beam, but that is a place we need to do a lot better at. I think they let a little bit of the pressure get to them because, right now, it looks like we're pretty settled on the other three (events)."

The Cats have been under the direction of Dickerson and Heather Hite since October, when UK announced that head coach Mo Mitchell was no longer with the team. No reason was given for Mitchell's departure and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said then that a search would be conducted before the post is filled for the 2011-12 season.

With the 4-inch beam seeming more like a tightrope now, might the Cats simplify their beam routines?

"I think we do, and we do some more pressure sets (in practice). They just look a little scared up there," Dickerson said. "I don't want them to 'try to stay on.' I want them to attack it, and they weren't in an attacking mode tonight on that event."

Rose, a junior, got the Cats off to a strong start with her winning vault, a 9.875.

Then Caitlyn Ciokajlo, a sophomore, won her second title of the season and career by scoring 9.875 on bars. The highlight of her routine was a Jaeger to a straddleback.

"I basically let go of the high bar and I flip and I catch the high bar again," Ciokajlo said in explaining the Jaeger.

The straddleback is her transition to the low bar.

After Rose's fall, the only Cat to stay on the beam was Andrea Mitchell. The senior scored 9.725, good for fifth place, and wound up second in the all-around to Jaime Pisani. The Arkansas All-American scored 39.125 to Mitchell's season-best 39.050.

"It was a better all-around, for sure," Mitchell said. "I had a better score ... and it's early in the season, so I'm just glad to be able to continue to keep building from here. So that makes me very confident and excited."

In addition to Pisani's all-around, Arkansas (1-2, 1-1) netted titles on beam and floor exercise.

Jordan Salsberg scored 9.775 on beam, and Pisani was among three Razorbacks who tied for second at 9.750.

Pisani and Katherine Grable gave the Hogs a 1-2 finish on floor with a 9.90 and 9.825. UK's Minion placed third at 9.80.

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