#5 Florida Gators gymnastics cruises past #14 Georgia

Special report on the Florida Gators gymnastics team:
ATHENS, Ga. – No. 5 Florida gymnastics took a 196.95 – 196.125 win Friday at No. 14 Georgia in front of a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 10,017.

The Gators opened the meet by equaling their season-best uneven bars team total of 49.50. Two Gators equaled their 2018 uneven bars best Friday – Amelia Hundley (9.925) and Alex McMurtry’s winning score of 9.975.

The Gators’ final three vaulters all scored a 9.9 or better – Rachel Slocum (9.90), McMurtry (9.925) and Alicia Boren won the event by equaling her collegiate best of 9.95.

McMurtry made her season floor debut Friday, posting a 9.925. She was one of three Gators with floor marks of 9.9 or better. Alyssa Baumann scored a 9.90 and Slocum added the double layout back in for her opening pass, earning a collegiate-best 9.95 to take second overall.

The Gators counted a fall in their beam total Friday. With the Stegeman Coliseum crowd cheering a floor 10.0, Baumann was calm and steady on beam as she turned in the evening’s winning mark of 9.90. Sophomore Amelia Hundley also posted a season-high 9.875. Freshman Nicole Webb, making her first appearance in the Gator lineup, turned in 9.725.

Boren shared the all-around win with Georgia’s Sydney Snead at 39.475. Snead won the floor with a 10.0 – the nation’s fourth perfect floor mark of the season.

Boren equaled her collegiate best of 9.95 for the sixth time to claim her first vault title of 2018. It is her top vault mark of the season.
McMurtry was nearly perfect with her 9.975 on bars. It is the second time this season – and third time of career – she’s earned a 9.975 on bars. The mark gave her the 20th bars win of her career.
Baumann wins her second beam title Friday. She placed first or second in four beam competitions this season.
Boren shares her third consecutive all-around title and now owns four wins this season. She’s competed as an all-arounder in 34 consecutive meets and tonight’s total marks the 30th time her total was above 39.15.
Senior All-American Kennedy Baker sat out Friday’s meet as she recovers from the flu.
Eight season- or collegiate-best marks by five different Gators were turned in Friday

RECORDS: Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC), Georgia (3-4, 3-3 SEC).

THE SERIES: Georgia leads the series 92-56-1.

Thoughts on tonight’s meet:
“The team had three solid events tonight. Even beam as the last event in a tough environment, what they were doing looked great. The little details that we’ve been working on are being fixed, landings are being fixed as well as executive and presentation. Really proud of them overall.

“I feel we are still moving in the right direction. We had to count a fall tonight, but on the other events, we showed big strides. Beam is an event we are very solid on and we will work out those little bumps. Really the performances overall, the confidence, the grace and the stepping up – it is really good to see this team continue to move forward.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

The lineups were shuffled a bit tonight. How did the new performers do?
“As a whole, we had several new faces in tonight and shuffled different people into the lineup. Everyone on the team felt and knew they were going to be successful. These three hadn’t competed a lot in the lineups they appeared in tonight. Alyssa [Baumann] did a fantastic job starting us off on vault. She really set the tone. [Rachel] Gowey went back in on floor. She’s competed a couple of times this season and did a fabulous job – nice solid routine. Then Nicole Webb, a freshman who had not yet been in the lineup this season. She really rocked her beam routine. She was a little hesitant as she knew there were two falls ahead of her and it was a tense situation, but she handled it very well and with a lot of grace.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

Alyssa Baumann had to perform on beam while a 10.0 was celebrated by the crowd. How did she handle that situation?
“Alyssa is so composed and so focused. I know she heard it but at the same time, I know she used that energy to her advantage. She didn’t let anything get to her – really proud of her.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

There was a fall before you on beam and while performing, the crowd celebrated a floor 10.0. What were you thinking while you performed?
“Before I got on beam, I knew someone had fallen, so there was a little bit of pressure there. But I knew I could hit my routine. When I was performing and someone had a perfect 10.0, I couldn’t hear myself think. I’ve never before performed with a crowd cheering like that. In elite, you can hear a pin drop. I just tried to tell myself it [the cheering] was for me and to stay calm and confident.” – freshman Alyssa Baumann

Alex McMurtry made her first appearance on floor tonight. How did that performance go?
“It was great to see Alex back out in the floor lineup. I think I can count on one hand how many floor routines she’s actually trained. She did a fabulous job and to come away with that confidence and knowing that you’ve got at least that many more until post-season is really just setting her up for a lot of success.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

How much work has Rachel Slocum been putting into her floor routine to get that double layout back in?
“[Rachel] Slocum has been putting a lot of work into that double layout. Really more so than anything, it was the confidence in her ability to perform it. She had to convince me that she wanted to do this. I knew when she came up to me this week and said ‘Jenny, I’m going to do it this weekend.’ When it was her wanting it, I knew it was going to happen. To see her perform it so well and have that success, I’m just ecstatic for her.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

On bringing back the double layout opening pass:
“I’ve been practicing it in the gym. Last week and this past week, they’ve been very, very good – some of the best I’ve ever done. I was ready to pull it out and I’m really glad I did. I just did what I was practicing and it was pretty good.” – senior All-American Rachel Slocum

Florida – The Gators are No. 5 in the Road to Nationals rankings.
Georgia – The Bulldogs are No. 14 in the Road to National rankings.

Top-10 home action continues Friday with a Gator gymnastics tradition – the 12th Annual Gators Link to Pink meet. Florida faces No. 10 Arkansas beginning at 6:45 p.m. in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gymbacks took fourth at 195.575 Friday at the GymQuarters Invitational in St. Louis, Mo.

Can’t be in the O’Connell Center Friday? Find the live stream on WatchESPN. The meet airs tape-delayed Sunday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

The Gators Link to Pink is the team’s annual breast cancer awareness meet. Each of the league’s eight gymnastics team will have a cancer-awareness meet this season.

Here’s what is planned for Friday’s fans:

Giveaway – 3,500 pink Gators Gymnastics T-Shirts courtesy of UF Health.
Pink Poster – Fans can pick up the 12th annual Link to Pink Team Poster at the marketing tables.
Pink Leos – Both teams set aside their usual school colors to wear pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness!
Survivor Tunnel – Breast Cancer Survivors will welcome the team to the floor during intros pre-meet!
Jr. Cheer – Arrive early for a special pre-meet performance by the Gators Junior Cheerleaders! To register for the Junior Cheer clinic, visit www.FloridaGators.com/Camps today!
Post-Meet Autographs – Stick around after the meet to get a poster or program signed by the Gators Gymnastics team and to meet your Florida Gators Gymnasts!

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.