Perfect night for the Gators

You had to know it was going to be a special night in Gainesville. The Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the University of Florida campus was host of the two teams that have won all five of the last national championships in Women’s Gymnastics. The number one Gators were hosting the fifth ranked Crimson Tide and the evening didn’t disappoint.

Three perfect scores from Alex McMurtry, Bridget Sloan, and Kennedy Baker in front of an announced crowd of 8,867 gave the Gators a team score that leads the nation in 2016 and is tied for seventh-best in program history.

Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) won the meet 198.175 to 197.525 the Crimson Tide (2-3, 1-2 SEC) score is currently the top score on the road nationally so far this season.  





















Florida was the event winner in the Vault (Kennedy Baker 9.950) (Alicia Boren 9.950), the Uneven Bars (Alex McMurtry 10.00), the Balance Beam (Bridget Sloan 10.00), the Floor Exercise (Kennedy Baker 10.00), and The All-Around (Bridget Sloan (39.775). The Gators scored season high scores from Baker and Boren, while also having a team season-high total in the event with a 49.500.

It was the Uneven Bars that first got everyone in the stadium all worked up. McMurtry with her ‘perfect 10’ on the apparatus won her second uneven bars title. It was her fifth event title of the year. McMurtry was a little surprised by the score when it popped up. It was the first 10 in the event of the 2016 season for the entire NCAA. It was McMurtry’s second 10 of her career (2015).

"I was surprised by the 10. I am kind of terrified of bars,” she said. “This routine gave me some confidence with the new release move and a new routine. When I stuck that landing, I thought I hit a good routine, but I didn't think it was a 10.0 until they flashed the scores."

Sloan’s was the first ever 10.0 on the beam in the O’Connell Center as Bridget continued the excitement for the large crowd. It is the sixth 10.0 score on different events for Sloan in her collegiate career. Hers was also the first 10 of the year in the event in the entire NCAA. She is now tied with Kytra Hunter for the most 10.0 marks in program history.

"I go last on the beam and it's a long wait,” the senior team leader said. “Before I was going, I was super relaxed and calm. I thought I was just going to go up there and rock this. Jenny said 'let's just end this with a boom'. I thought ‘OK’.

“I bet no one noticed but I kicked the beam really hard on the very first move I did. I stood up on the beam and was like 'oh my gosh my toe.' It really just took me away from my actual thought process. It is amazing what happens when you don't think and just let your body take over. I was just going through my routine and thinking 'oh that was good' and I landed my dismount.

“I remember the first 10 I got on beam and it was during my sophomore year at Kentucky. I did my beam routine and thought there was no way that they could take anything off. I felt very similar this week. Again, it was an incredible night."

Baker continued the fun in the arena when she posted her 10.0 on the floor routine. It was her first 10.0 of her career. Gators have scored 10.0 eight times in the program’s history and that comes from just five different gymnasts.

"I didn't go into it thinking that I was going to get a 10,” Baker said. “Then, I did the first pass and thought 'eh, that was good'. I did the second pass and thought 'oh that was better' and then I landed it and was thinking 'hopefully.' Then they flashed the scores and I was really happy."

It was the first time ever that Gators have posted three 10.0’s on three different events in a single meet. The Gators have had two 10’s in a meet twice, and in both meets the scores came in the same event.

"I really don't know what to say other than tonight was a very memorable night,” Florida head coach Jenny Rowland said. “I think not only for me, but for our entire team. These three over here that got perfect 10s (Bridget Sloan, Alex McMurtry and Kennedy Baker), I can't say enough about them. Their leadership on the team and putting forth the effort and putting in the work inside and outside the gym for this team, it is like no other.

“But really, we haven't been working on being perfect in the gym or anything. It so nice see them and when they are in the gym, they do a great job. It is great to see them move everything from the gym onto the competition floor and just shine and have fun. It is showing in their gymnastics."

It was the nation’s most competitive all-around contest of the season, as three gymnasts turned in totals at or above the nation’s leading mark. Sloan, who owned the previous nation’s high of 2016 of 39.65, upped her best to 39.775 for her fourth consecutive win. Baker and Alabama’s Lauren Beers shared second at 39.65.

The Florida versus Alabama meet airs again on the SEC Network Saturday, Jan. 30 at 9:30 a.m. and Sunday, Jan. 31 at 8:30 p.m. Also airs Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Gators open action for the second month of the season when they are at No. 13 Georgia on Friday, Feb. 5. Meet time is set for 7 p.m. in the Stegeman Coliseum.  

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