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Kentucky gymnastics seeking breakthrough at West Virginia regional

Kayla Hartley, competed on the uneven bars as UK defeated Arkansas in an excite night gymnastics meet  on Friday January 18, 2013 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kayla Hartley, competed on the uneven bars as UK defeated Arkansas in an excite night gymnastics meet on Friday January 18, 2013 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

The University of Kentucky gymnastics team will try to earn a berth in the NCAA Championships when it competes in the Morgantown (W.Va.) Regional at the University of West Virginia on Saturday.

Kentucky is seeded No. 4 in the six-team regional, behind No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Nebraska and No. 3 Illinois. West Virginia and North Carolina are seeded fifth and sixth, respectively.

The top two finishers from each of the six regional sites around the country will advance to the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles, to be held April 19-21 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

UK enters regional competition coming off a banner season in which it twice beat the school record for highest team score.

The Wildcats scored 196.775 in the final regular-season dual meet at Penn State to top the previous school record, which they set two weeks earlier at Ball State.

Kentucky's score of 196.5 at Ball State broke the 11-year-old record of 196.375.

Kentucky finished the Southeastern Conference schedule with three wins, the most in school history, highlighted by a home-opening victory over then-No. 9 Arkansas. UK also beat then-No. 13 Auburn twice, and tied then-No. 6 Georgia at home.

Kayla Hartley and Alexis Gross were named to the All-SEC team, becoming the first Wildcats to earn league honors since Michelle Gales in 2005.

UK's best finish at a regional was third at the 1990 Gainesville (Fla.) Regional and at the 1996 Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Regional.

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