Florida Gators gymnastics defeats Alabama at home

Special report on the Florida Gators gymnastics team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -No. 5 Florida gymnastics used the nation’s fifth-highest total of 2018 for a 197.85 – 197.075 win over No. 9 Alabama.

Florida Event Winners Friday

Vault:

Alex McMurtry

9.975

Uneven Bars

Alex McMurtry

9.95

Floor Exercise:

Kennedy Baker

10.00

All-Around:

Alicia Boren

39.60

The final performance of the meet brought the crowd to its feet, as senior All-American Kennedy Baker nailed her floor routine, receiving her third floor 10.0 of her career.

Two of the nation’s top five team totals now belong to Florida – No. 1 198.15 (Jan. 26) and No. 5 197.85 (Feb. 2).

The Meet’s Flow
The Tide led by 0.025 after the opening rotation, but after a season-best 49.50 on uneven bars, the Gators owned a 0.225 lead at the midway point. Florida added to that lead each of the final two rotations as the Gators finished with a season-best 49.625 on floor.

For the second consecutive meet, Gator senior All-American Alex McMurtry took the opening two event titles. Her near-perfect 9.975 for her Yurchenko double full marked the eighth time she’s scored a 9.975 or better on vault. Then McMurtry used a 9.95 to take the evening’s uneven bars title.

McMurtry was among a trio of Gators that shared second on balance beam at 9.925. Freshman Alyssa Baumann and junior All-American Alicia Boren shared second on the event. Alabama’s Nickie Guerrero anchored the Tide’s beam lineup with the meet’s winning mark of 9.95.

Every Gator posted a floor score of 9.875 or better Friday, including three equaling their collegiate bests – Baker (10.00), Boren (9.95) and Baumann (9.925).

Boren and sophomore All-American Amelia Hundley went one-two in the all-around, both with season-best totals. Boren posted a 39.60 and Hundley a 39.40.

GATOR NOTABLES:

* Florida turned in 12 season and/or collegiate best marks Friday and two season-high event totals

* Florida’s season-best uneven bars total of 49.50 included four marks of 9.9 or better:

o 9.90 – Rachel Gowey and Amelia Hundley

o 9.925 – Alicia Boren (collegiate best)

o 9.95 – Alex McMurtry

* Florida’s season-best floor exercise total of 49.625 included five season or collegiate-bests:

o 10.00 – Kennedy Baker (third career 10.0)

o 9.95 – Alicia Boren (equaled collegiate best for eighth time)

o 9.925 – Alyssa Baumann (equaled collegiate best)

o 9.875 – Rachel Gowey (equaled collegiate best) and Amelia Hundley (season best)

* This is the third consecutive meet with a perfect mark for the Gators

o Jan. 26 versus No. 1 Oklahoma – McMurtry 10.00 for vault and beam

o Feb. 2 at No. 17 Auburn – McMurtry 9.95 for vault (performed Yurchenko full – 9.95 start value)

o Feb. 9 versus No. 9 Alabama – Baker 10.00 on floor

* Since 2003, Florida and Alabama have taken the home win in each of their 16 dual meet competitions

* Baker wins her 14th floor title. She has seven career floor marks of 9.975 or better.

* Baker’s 10.0 is the third in the nation and the first in the Southeastern Conference in 2018

* Boren wins her eighth all-around title. Tonight’s was her third of 2018 and second consecutive.

* Tonight’s crowd of 8,236 stands as No. 13 in the program’s history.

RECORDS: Florida (5-1, 3-1 SEC), Alabama (3-3, 3-2 SEC).

THE SERIES: Alabama leads the series 73-44-2.

HEAR FROM THE GATORS:
Thoughts on tonight’s meet:
“It was a lot of fun tonight. Wow, I think everyone is on a bit of a high right now. We had some struggles this week with some nagging injuries and illnesses. Even with new lineups, the team accepted the challenge and handled it with a lot of grace.
“In our team meeting before the competition, we talked about ‘filling our bag.’ That is something we have been talking about a lot and everyone came forward and said something that they wanted to work on today. We had a lot of confidence and we had a lot of people saying that they believed in themselves. There were a few individual goals set; some said that they did not want to be perfect; they wanted to be great tonight. All of those qualities that we have been working on in the gym shined through tonight and I am really proud of this team.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland
On her perfect 10:

“After my first pass, I kind of just could feel it. I was into it. The rest was easy. It felt really, really good to get a 10 at the end.” – senior All-American Kennedy Baker

On going on floor exercise after Alicia Boren’s 9.95:

“I’m definitely excited after Alicia. If she nails her first pass, I’m so lit for her whole routine. It’s always good to see her do a bomb routine and then get to go after. I think that it definitely inspires me to do my best. I’m after her, so I can’t disappoint.” – senior All-American Kennedy Baker

On her performance tonight:

“I think the Gators had a lot of momentum this week. We just had a strong week of practice and we brought it into the meet tonight. I’m really proud of getting some of those landings, that’s what I was working on. And once we start on vault, we have the momentum to keep going throughout the meet.

“I think I used my vault, took it bars, and took it to beam. It’s just really exciting to see us build on every event and build on every meet. It’s going to be a fun season.” – senior All-American Alex McMurtry

On the night:
“I thought I did really good. I’ve really been focusing on being confident in myself. The girls and the coaches always tell me that but I always struggle with that. So I really worked on that. It didn’t necessarily come out on vault but, it did come out in the rest of the meet.” – junior All-American Alicia Boren

On competing in the second half of the meet:
“It’s awesome to be able to cheer them on the first two events and then go out there for last two events and really hit my routines. In this meet, I was just trying to do normal. The last two meets, I have been trying to be too perfect. So the goal for this meet was to just to not put too much pressure on myself and I knew that. My teammates kept telling me to be confident and they believed in me. So, that is what I tried to do tonight.” – freshman Alyssa Baumann

On having back-to-back 9.925s tonight:

“On beam, it was great to hit a 9.925 after such a long beam routine. I added some extra skills in. I like to see what my beam routine can be. After doing the beam routine, it gave me a lot of confidence going into floor and I finally threw my head back in the floor routine. I was just having a lot of fun out there.” – freshman Alyssa Baumann

On Alyssa Baumann’s additions to beam [NOTE: Baumann unexpectedly – to her team and to herself – added some skills to her beam performance tonight]:
“She does them all very well. She just wanted to stay on the beam.” – Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland

On when she will perform on floor:

“I’m able to do floor routines now in practice, so I’m just building my way up. Hopefully, (I’ll) be able to compete next weekend. I love being able to touch and even start tumbling on floor, it just gets me excited.” – senior All-American Alex McMurtry

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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.