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Mistakes cost UK gymnastics against LSU, but Cats coach encouraged

Audrey Harrison, a junior from Knoxville, paced Kentucky's 2-4-4 finish on the floor exercise. She also finished second on the beam.
Audrey Harrison, a junior from Knoxville, paced Kentucky's 2-4-4 finish on the floor exercise. She also finished second on the beam. Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky, off to its best start ever in gymnastics, cranked out another 195-plus score Friday night.

However, that wasn't good enough as No. 6 LSU edged the 16th-ranked Wildcats 195.875-195.250.

Averaging 195.238, the Cats have been consistent, but are anxious to score higher.

"We have to get out of our own way. That's kind of where we are right now," Coach Tim Garrison said. "But I'm even more encouraged now that we're a good team. We are; we're an excellent team. We're just not hitting like an excellent team.

"As we get a little more confidence ... we'll perform better. When we perform better, we're going to be able to hang with a lot of teams not only in this conference but around the country. Obviously we're disappointed; we're very disappointed in the outcome tonight. But there's a lot to be encouraged about."

Although LSU won all four individual events, UK (4-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) got a share of the all-around title as Audrey Harrison and LSU's Rheagan Courville each scored 39.225.

"I'm proud of what we did tonight," said Harrison, a junior from Knoxville. "We had mistakes that are not usual for us. It's rare to see those things happen. But it kind of gives us hope for the future because we know those little things can be fixed."

Things like the uneven parallel bars, where anchor performer Alexis Gross fell on her first release move.

"We hit that event right there, then we're right there neck-and-neck, and we start putting a little bit of pressure just because we're so close, you never know what can happen," Garrison said. "But we didn't. We had a major mistake, two major mistakes, and it cost us, no doubt about it."

For sure, UK had bright spots.

On the first rotation, Shelby Hilton scored a career-best 9.875 to place second on the vault.

On bars, Sara Shipley tied her career high with a 9.8, good for a share of third.

Harrison led a 2-3-4-5 UK finish on beam, scoring a career-high 9.85.

Harrison also paced a 2-4-4 showing on floor, scoring 9.85.

LSU (6-2, 2-1) got first-place finishes by Randi Lau on vault (9.90), Sarie Morrison on bars (9.85), Courville on beam (9.95) and Lloimincia Hall on floor (9.875).

"I felt like we competed a little bit tired. It was too hard for us to get the kind of performances that we got," Tigers Coach D-D Breaux said. "Nothing came easy tonight. They struggled, they fought — which we call character-building competitions. It took everything we had to come out of here with a victory tonight."

In her 36th season as coach, Breaux sees UK as a program on the rise.

"Kentucky did a fabulous job. I thought they continued to push us. They never let up," she said. "And that's the sign of a team that believes in their coaches, and a coaching staff that knows what they're doing."

Garrison is not one to disagree, even after a disappointing result.

"I don't believe at all in moral victories," he said. "(But) it's encouraging to see where we could be."

LSU 195.875, Kentucky 195.250

Vault Randi Lau (LSU) 9.90; (tie) Shelby Hilton (UK) and Kaleigh Dickson (LSU) 9.875. Bars Sarie Morrison (LSU) 9.85; Kaleigh Dickson (LSU) 9.825; (tie) Sara Shipley (UK) and Randii Wyrick (LSU) 9.80. Beam Rheagan Courville (LSU) 9.95; Audrey Harrison (UK) 9.85; Kayla Sienkowski (UK) 9.825. Floor Lloimincia Hall (LSU) 9.875; (tie) Audrey Harrison (UK) and Jessica Savona (LSU) 9.85. All-Around (tie) Audrey Harrison (UK) and Rheagan Courville (LSU) 39.225; Kaleigh Dickson (LSU) 39.150.

Next meet

Georgia at Kentucky

When: 7 p.m. Friday

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