LIVE BLOG: No. 28 Ball State at No. 13 Kentucky

Welcome to the second official week of season, and (in a COVID-free world) the first week where all teams will participate in GYMNASTICS! This will be our first official look at Kentucky this season since its opener against Arizona State was postponed and eventually canceled last week. On the bright side, the Wildcats made the most of their trip to Arizona with a team retreat. Kentucky enters 2022 ranked No. 13 in the WCGA preseason coaches poll. The Wildcats finished No. 11 in 2021 after tying Arizona State at the Utah Regional, narrowly missing a nationals berth by 0.150. The majority of Kentucky’s 2021 routines will be returning, including performances from Bailey Bunn, Raena Worley and Josie Angeny. Unfortunately, Makenna Clarke announced that she will miss all of 2022 with a season-ending knee injury. However, the Wildcats’ current roster has plenty of talent to fill in the hole she’s leaving in the floor lineup. Watch out for junior Kaitlin DeGuzman. This might just be her breakout season. 

We will have to wait a little longer to see if Georgia’s performance last Thursday in Crisler was a fluke. Originally slated to compete here for Excite Night, the Gymdogs had to pull out of the competition last minute due to health and safety protocols. Instead, Ball State will be making the trip to Rupp Arena to take on the Wildcats. Ball State began its season last weekend at a tri meet at Missouri, where it came in second with a 193.775. Historically, the Cardinals know how to put on a show when they migrate over to Lexington. Ball State put up a strong 194.475 the last time it came to Kentucky for the 2018 season opener. Be on the look out for one of the top beam teams in the MAC, highlighted by Lauren Volpe. Here’s a little sneak peak of what we have to look forward to:

I’m so glad that Kentucky thought on its feet, and Ball State was willing to make a double meet weekend out of a single. For its trouble, the Cardinals will find themselves in the Friday Night Heights “Matinee” on SEC Network! How exciting!

Barring any more complications, Kentucky will finally get its season going tonight! Don’t underestimate what Ball State will bring to the table. This is going to be a fun competition!

Get ready for a leo debut from the Wildcats!

Tentative lineups for the Cardinals can be found below.

Rotation 1: Kentucky VT, Ball State UB

Worley performed a beautiful last Yurchenko 1.5 warm up. Let’s get this show on the road!

Procasky (UK): Yurchenko full. Nearly stuck. Small slide back. Good first routine for the freshman. 9.800

Nychyk (BSU): Toe handstand to Maloney to overshoot. Held that last handstand. FTDT. A little low on the landing with chest down. 9.675

Wilson (UK): FHS front pike 1/2. A little bouncy. Good height. A 3ish tenth hop in my opinion. Another freshman for UK! Strong first vault from her as well. 9.825

The judges are taking a good long minute to score the last routine.

Sulek (BSU): Maloney to overshoot. Some leg form on the catch. Blind change to Rudi dismount! Unique dismount there! Love it! 9.725

Nixon (UK): Yurchenko full. Good height. Hop to the side with a little pike down. She might’ve twisted a little early if I’m being picky. 9.825

9.675 is the only bar score the announcers have seen. I saw a 9.825 flashed. That explains the wait. The scores must’ve been too far apart.

Ruthberg (BSU): Ray. She’s swinging a little loose in my opinion. Decent handstands. Overshoot handstand to toe up to high bar. Stuck FTDT. 9.725

Magnelli (UK): FHS front pike half. A little lower than the last one. With a step. 9.75

Sumner (BSU): Maloney to pak salto. A little close on the catch. Nice last handstand. Blind full to double tuck. Took a dramatic pause on the top on the blind full. Stuck dismount. 9.65

Patterson (UK): FHS front pike half. Those have gotten so much better! Small hop back. She wins my vote for most improved UK vaulter! 9.875

Evans (BSU): Vault over mount. Blind change to piked Jaeger. Overshoot handstand. Nice routine so far. Blind full to double tuck dismount. A little pogo bounce on the landing. Overall strong 9.725

Worley (UK): Yurchenko 1.5! A nice one in the air with a hop to the side. Should be a strong score for that vault. 9.900

Teter (BSU): Blind full to Tkatchev to overshoot. Smooth connection. A little short on the last handstand. Blind change to double front dismount. Small step to the side. Good anchor routine for the Cardinals. 9.775

AFTER ONE: Kentucky 49.225, Ball State 48.625

This was a strong performance across the board. I felt like Ball State was getting a little iced on bars. The judges were taking some time between posting each score. We’ll see if that persists in the next rotation. Kentucky did not count a score below 9.8 on vault today. The Wildcats will be happy with that start.

Rotation 2: Ball State VT, Kentucky UB

Ostendorf (BSU): Yurchenko full. Good power but a large hop back.

Davis (UK): Blind full, blind half to Jaeger. Overshoot. A little low on that. Double layout. Very straight body. She was cranking that one around. Small step back.

Elsadek (BSU): Yurchenko full. Not quite as high as the first with a hop back. This angle makes it so hard to see how big the hops and steps are. The vault looked very technically sound, I will say.

Angeny (UK): Short handstand. Blind to Jaeger to overshoot. Better last handstand. Double layout. Lovely form in the air. Small hop.

Pfister (BSU): FHS front pike half! Loved that vault for her! Strong landing too. Best landing on the day from any vaulter!

Nixon (UK): Maloney to overshoot. Announcer called it a ray? Am I confused or is she? Huge FTDT as usual. Stuck landing. She’s hype! 9.90 No biggy

Schweikert (BSU): Yurchenko half. Nice vault. Not a bad landing.

Bunn (UK): Blind to Jaeger. Looked a little sideways in the air to me. Overshoot. Nice last handstand. Double layout. Small slide back.

Ruthberg (BSU): Yurchenko full. A little piked in the air. With a hop back.

DeGuzman (UK): A freshman? Blind to Jaeger to overshoot. Her lines are just lovely. Double layout. She went for the landing, but couldn’t quite hold it long enough today. Definitely a strong debut routine for her.

Henry (BSU): Yurchenko 1.5! Lovely in the air. Kicked open just a little too much looking for the landing. A step back today. Should still be a good score. 9.825

Worley (UK): Clear hip to Tkatchev. Pak salto. Nice last handstand! The most technically sound FTDT I’ve ever seen. Stuck landing! That score should be really high. The largest deduction I would take would be amplitude on the Tkatchev.

The Ball State coach got called about attending this meet on Wednesday after practice.

AFTER TWO: Kentucky 98.500, Ball State 97.575

Ball State put up some strong vaults today highlighted by 10.0 SVs from Henry and Pfister. Once the vault team hones in on the landings, the scores will only continue to go up. Kentucky had a few missed handstands at the beginning of the lineup, but that’s normal for the beginning of the season. There were definitely quite a few bright spots including DeGuzman’s bars debut and Worley’s 9.95 in the anchor spot. Nixon did her normal beautiful bar set and was rewarded with a 9.90 of her own. Once again Kentucky did not have to count a score below 9.80. Watch out for these Wildcats folks.

Rotation 3: Kentucky BB, Ball State FX

Haigis (UK): BHS LOSO. Solid. Switch leap to straddle 1/4 down to the beam. Unique leap pass there. Cat leap to front Aerial. Large break at the hips. RO back 1.5 dismount. Stuck. The wobble will be the largest deduction. Solid start for the Wildcats. 9.775

Elsadek (BSU): Double pike. Huge height. Switch ring to wolf full. Front lay, front half to stag jump. A little low on the half. B-S-UUUUUUUU! Double tuck. Strong landing with the chest up. 9.700

Magnelli (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO. Lovely. No wobbles here. Switch leap, straddle 1/4. Solid. Front Aerial. A little off, but Finessed it. Wobble on the full turn. Everyone’s nemesis. Gainer pike off the end. Stuck. 9.725

Ostendorf (BSU): Double pike. Good landing. Front lay to Rudi. Smooth connection there. I had a friend with this music once. I can’t unhear it. Strong leap pass. Double tuck! BSU knows how to end with that double. Get that extra tenth of bonus! 9.75

Riegert (UK): A beam debut for the freshman! Side Aerial to BHS. Undercut that ALOT. But fights to stay on. Switch leap, back tuck. Nice solid combination there. RO 1.5 dismount. Stuck. Kentucky has been working the landings! It was a miracle Riegert stayed on on that series turns out. Her Aerial was VERY crooked. Go girl! Way to fight! 9.700

Waldo (BSU): Front double full to front tuck! E pass alert! Front full, front lay, front half straddle jump. Threw in a standing back tuck to fill the backward skill requirement. Ends with a Rudi. 9.675

Bunn (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO. She’s off. She wanted to fight for that so bad, but there was nothing she could do. Taking a second to regroup. Switch leap, split jump. RO back double full. Small slide back.

Ruthberg (BSU): Front tuck step out through to double tuck. Strong landing. Double pike. A little squatty on the landing but she held on nicely. Switch ring, switch half. Did the music just get less loud? Rudi to straddle jump. Arm wave in the air on the jump. Her punch must’ve been a little off into the jump. 9.625

The judges are in a conference right now. It’ll be a second before Worley can go. Waiting to see Bunn’s score. It’s a 9.050.

Worley (UK): Scores are tight on beam tonight. Cat leap, switch side. Front Aerial, BHS LOSO. Lovely. Her usual. She’s comfy up there. You’d never know Bunn just fell before her. RO back 1.5 dismount. Stuck cold. Kentucky is on its way to dropping Bunn’s score. 9.875

Teter (BSU): I’m loving these bird tweets before the music starts. Front layout, Rudi. Double tuck. Bounces out of it. Just keeps it in bounds. Tour jete full. Front full, front layout. Nice routine from Teter minus the second pass landing. Dab it out! 9.825

Ageny (UK): BHS LOSO LOSO. Pulls it up nice and tall to finish. She’s not trying to give up anything. Front Aerial. Solid. Beat jump, straddle 1/4. Nice. Side Aerial, tuck full dismount. Small hop back. Unlikely to see any 9.9s from UK tonight on beam. 9.800

Henry (BSU): Full in to start. This girl has some power! Small step to the side. Front lay, front full. Switch side, popa. Double pike. Good height and nice landing. A little wink at the end. She knows it was good. 9.825

AFTER THREE: Kentucky 147.375, Ball State 146.350

Both teams fought through that rotation. Kentucky avoided counting a fall on beam but was only able to break the 9.8 mark twice with the strong one-two punch of Worley and Angeny. Overall, there was much more fight in this lineup than I’ve seen in the last couple seasons. That’s reason to hope the Wildcats will break 49 on beam in the near future. Ball State floor was obviously highlighted by Henry’s huge tumbling and performance flare. I’m excited to see how the Cardinals continue to improve on floor once the little details are cleaned up later in the season.

Rotation 4: Ball State BB, Kentucky FX 

Ostendorf (BSU): BHS LOSO. Right up to the end of the beam. Solid. Split jump, tuck full. Front toss. A little long. RO back 1.5 dismount. Stuck. Get excited people!

Bunn (UK): I’m loving this blue eyeshadow. Wild cat scratch before the first pass! Double pike. Nice landing. Switch half, wolf 1.5? I think. She is feeling this dance! Back 1.5 to front pike. Soulja boy, tell em. Rudi. A little low and bouncy on the landing. Otherwise strong lead off routine. 9.775

Elsadek (BSU): Hello by Adele for the beam song. Okay! Strong leap series. BHS BHS LOSO. Some legs in the air. Solid landing. Side Aerial layout full. Small hop in place on the landing. The commentator says it was a stick. I could be wrong.

Howell (UK): Double tuck. Huge height. Switch side, popa. A little under position on the popa. Front full, front lay. Clean. Double pike. You could tell she was tired before she took off. She barely got her feet down before putting down her hands. 9.00

Ruthberg (BSU): BHS LOSO BHS. That was a little scary. She was pretty crooked on the layout and still went for the BHS. Switch leap, switch leap. Side Aerial to layout full. Stuck. Nice finish. 9.125

Magnelli (UK): Rudi LOSO. Switch side, popa. Double pike. Landed short with her legs straight. Minimum 3 tenths on that landing, I think. That routine was so short. It caught me off guard. 9.675

Sumner (BSU): Side Aerial to BHS series. Smooooooooth. Front Aerial to beat jump. Switch leap, split jump. I love the way she moves up there. Large wobble on the turn. Cat leap, side Aerial back full. Stuck. Largest deduction was the turn unfortunately. 🙁 9.625

Haigis (UK): Rudi to LONG LOSO. Switch side, popa. This is a fun routine! Double pike. A little over with a slide back. The team is hype for that routine. Another two pass routine for Kentucky.

Volpe (BSU): Side Aerial to beat jump. BHS LOSO. Some knees on the BHS. Switch leap, split jump. A little short of 180. Split 3/4. No wobbles so far. Side Aerial to back full. Stuck! Should be the biggest score so far. 9.775

Davis (UK): Double pike. Good landing. Stuck, in fact. Switch side, popa. Good amplitude. Back 1.5, front layout. I loved how floaty that was. How can you not sing along to this song? Double tuck. Good chest up. Point at the camera if you did the best routine of the rotation. Oh wait. 9.925 Go off!

Waldo (BSU): Front Aerial. Pause. Dance to front toss. Wobble. Repeating the series. Front Aerial to toe foot FHS. Nice. Switch leap, straddle 1/4. Nice. Tucked punch Rudi. Good landing. Interested to see what the judges do with that score. I loved the unique series.

Worley (UK): Tucked full in. Okay! Idk how you can do a full in and land light on your feet, but she managed. Front full, front lay. Controlled landing. Double tuck. Strong landing there too. Should go 9.9+. 9.925. Boom. Who needs the judges anyway? I kid.

Final: Kentucky 196.525, Ball State 194.750

Kentucky put together a strong opening score despite a few mistakes tonight. The Wildcats started strong on vault and bars, losing a little momentum on beam and floor. However, the team did a good job of regrouping after mistakes were made. Tonight was Raena Worley’s night to shine, claiming victories on all four events and the all around. Worley’s 39.650 was the second highest all around performance of her career… it was the first meet of 2022. Hailey Davis put up an impressive 9.925 for a new career high on floor as well.

Ball State casually bested its season opening score by nearly a point. I told you that the Cardinals rise to the occasion when in Lexington. And to think they thought they’d just be practicing tonight. Volpe asserted herself yet again as THE beam queen, but I loved the originality of Waldo’s series as well. The gym world needs more originality! Victoria Henry impressed on both of her events, showing off her power and difficulty. Ball State’s consistent mid 48s on each event are something I’m sure the Cardinals will hope to build on as the season goes on. I’m crossing my fingers that the vault lineup will be able to cross the 49 threshold at its meet on Sunday. They were just 0.050 away tonight with a few landings to improve.

AA Winner: Raena Worley (39.650)

VT Winner: Raena Worley (9.900)

UB Winner: Raena Worley (9.950)

BB Winner: Raena Worley (9.875)

FX Winner: Hailey Davis, Raena Worley (9.925)

Live Blog by Tavia Smith

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