University of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart had to be grinning from ear to ear this past Sunday.
Not only did his men's basketball team move to 17-2 and 8-0 on the year on Saturday, but his Women's Tennis team was taking on Stanford for Barnhart's second attempt at the second non-basketball national championship in school history at Madison, Wisc. later that day.
Despite losing to Stanford, 4-0, the Wildcats finished second in the nation in Women's Indoor Tennis, showing that the athletic department had indeed come full circle just three years since Barnhart's arrival.
But the successes of the Women's Tennis team aren't just the only victories enjoyed by Barnhart and the athletic department lately. Women's Gymnastics garnered a record setting performance in Friday's victories over George Washington, Ball State and Ohio State. The win not only moved the 'Cats gymnastics team to 4-3 on the season, but also should propel the 'Cats into the Top 15 in the nation this week, after sitting at No. 18 for three weeks straight.
Gymnastics coach Mo Muhammad was Barnhart's hire, as was Coach Mickie DeMoss, whom nearly upset No. 18 Georgia for the second time in as many games. The Wildcats held the lead with 1:18 to go, before falling down the stretch to the stronger 'Dawgs, led by freshmen Tasha Humphrey's 32 points. Still the fact the Wildcats narrowly defeated the ranked Dawgs on the road is a testament to how far they've come.
Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving finished off their spectacular regular seasons with wins against Cincinnati. The Men's team finishes the year at 8-1 and gives the Wildcats the next strongest attempt at the heralded National Championship trophy. The Women's team, who was supposed to be rebuilding this year, finishes their regular season at 7-3 and a surprising 3-2 in the SEC.
With UK's strongest season coming up, the athletic department can't help but grin after watching its winter program take another step towards becoming a national powerhouse and a presence for the Sears Directors Cup.
Women's Tennis - Capped off an unbelievable run this weekend, finishing second in the entire country and almost gave Kentucky its second non-basketball national title. The 6-2 'Cats have already started outdoor play and are hoping its hot indoor finish will propel them to an even better Outdoor finish. National Finish: 2nd
Men's Tennis - The Men's Tennis team is not playing up to the par of the Women's team, but fought hard in Saturday's 5-2 loss to No. 1 ranked Baylor. The Men's team plays its National Indoor Championship next week in Chicago. With a strong run, the Wildcats could be as shocking as the Women. National Finish: TBA
Women's Gymnastics - After taking three victories on Friday night's quad meeting, the Wildcats are now 4-3 on the season. Despite struggling in SEC play, the Kentucky Wildcats are currently ranked No. 18 in the country, but that ranking will likely go up after a record breaking weekend score. National Finish: TBA
Men's Basketball - No surprise here. The Wildcats are booming at No. 4 in the country and likely to continue to move up as they approach another chance at an undefeated regular season in the SEC. The 17-2 Cats are already halfway home after a weekend defeat of Vanderbilt put them at 8-0. National Finish: TBA
Women's Basketball - After a shakey start in SEC play, the Women's team is now 14-9, after almost pulling off the upset at Georgia yesterday. Key wins over Georgia and Ole Miss should help when the selection committee is taking a look at the 'Cats, but a dreadful away win-loss record might keep them out of the NCAA's. Still it's a testament to Coach DeMoss to see the 'Cats even in contention. National Finish: TBA
Men's Swimming and Diving - The Men's team keeps on winning and their national ranking keeps on climbing, as the 'Cats will most likely garner their first top ten ranking of the season after a strong victory over Cincinnati. The Men's team will give UK it's second best shot at a national title this winter. National Finish: TBA
Women's Swimming and Diving - The women's team has used the motivation from the men's team to move to a surprising 7-3 on the year and a 3-2 record in the conference. While the women's team won't be contending for national championships this winter, they are as good as they have ever been. National Finish: TBA