By LARRY VAUGHT
Senior Alex Hyland became only the second Kentucky gymnast to make four straight NCAA championship appearances and earned second team All-America honors this season with her 15th-place showing in the all-around competition.
She was also the SEC Gymnastics Scholar Athlete of the Year as a senior thanks to her 3.944 overall grade-point average and was one of 71 UK athletes that graduated this weekend.
She finished her senior season ranked as the nation’s 17th-best all-around gymnast, ranking No. 44 on the vault, No. 62 on the bars, No. 23 on the beam, and No. 64 on the floor.
After her final meet, she posted an emotional farewell on social media that I thought was certainly worth sharing.
“Gymnastics, thank you for letting me chase my dream. You never told me it was going to be easy, but you made it worth it. You pushed me. You challenged me. You made me sweat, and you made me cry. But most of all, you made smile. You gave me 16 of the best years of my life and I will miss you so much.
“To my mom: I can’t express in words how much I appreciate you and everything you do. My mom never missed one meet in my 16 years of gymnastics … January through April every single weekend she took flights and made 15 hour+ drives just to see me compete and never missed a moment. She showed up exactly when warm up started and she had to deal with stressed out me on meet days maybe not being so nice to her, so thank you mom I love you so much
“To my coaches and UK staff: Thank you for pushing me to be my best every single day. You all made me a better person and I’m so thankful for each and every one of you. Kentucky truly changed my life.”