Special to GC
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Florida gymnastics team opened February with its season-high road score to take the win Friday at Arkansas in front of a Barnhill Arena crowd of 4,654. Florida Event Winners Friday Vault: Alex McMurtry 9.95 Uneven Bars: Claire Boyce 9.85 Ericha Fassbender 9.85 Bridgette Caquatto 9.85 Balance Beam: Claire Boyce 9.875 Rachel Spicer 9.875 Floor Exercise: Kytra Hunter 9.925 All-Around: Ericha Fassbender 39.375 The Gators owned a 0.350 lead at the midway point of the meet after turning in their second-highest vault team total of 2015 (49.45) and posting the meet’s top uneven bars team tally of 49.20. Freshman Ericha Fassbender<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/fassbender_erica.php>, sophomore Claire Boyce<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/boyce_claire.php> and Bridgette Caquatto<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/caquatto_bridgette.php> shared the bars win at 9.85 with Arkansas’ Paige Zaziski. Freshman Alex McMurtry<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/mcmurtry_alex.php> used a 9.95 to take her second vault title of the season. The lead opened up after the third rotation as Florida posted a 49.325 on floor exercise while the Razorbacks were forced to count two falls toward their balance beam total. Senior Kytra Hunter<http://www.gatorzone.com/gymnastics/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=36> collected her fourth consecutive floor win Friday after turning in a 9.925. A six-for-six balance beam set gave Florida 49.225 total on the event. A pair of Gators – Boyce and Rachel Spicer<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/spicer_rachel.php> – shared the beam title with Arkansas’ Sydnie Dillard at 9.875. In her first collegiate all-around appearance, Fassbender won the meet title at 39.375. Gator Performance Notes: · Fassbender used three collegiate-best marks Friday to help her to win her first all-around. She turned in collegiate-best marks for vault (9.875), bars (9.85) and balance beam (9.85). · Two of the three Gators who shared Friday’s win on bars recorded their first collegiate title on the event – Fassbender and Boyce. For Fassbender, it was her first appearance in the Gators’ bars lineup. For Caquatto, it was her second bar win of 2015 and the third of her career. · McMurtry’s 9.95 on vault was the evening’s high score on any event. · Spicer’s share of the balance beam title is her first collegiate event win. Boyce claims a share of her third beam win of the 2015. · Hunter now owns 27 floor titles, which puts her two away from tying Florida’s career wins record on the event that Gator Great Melissa Miller set in 1989. Records: Florida (4-1, 3-1 SEC); Arkansas (2-5, 1-3 SEC). The Series: Florida leads the all-time series 32-3. Quotes: On tonight’s performance: “I was really proud of the athletes. We’ve had so many circumstances that we can’t control – quite a few injuries and lineup changes for every meet. They came out tonight with a lot of heart and a lot of passion. They competed aggressively and showed a lot of grit. I was thrilled with the performance tonight. “It really speaks volumes for the potential of this team. Look at the results – we were without Bridget Sloan, Kennedy Baker and Kytra Hunter would tell you that her first two events were not what she would have wanted. What I loved was that everyone on the team continued to fight and show their enthusiasm and aggressive nature. That’s what made the difference tonight.” - Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn How did the lineup adjustments work out? “On bars, we started off aggressively. Claire [Boyce] did a great routine and that’s the first time she’s gone up first on bars. With Kennedy out, it is an adjustment for the team because they are all used to her leading everyone off. So when you have a different person leading the team off, it’s always a bit of an unknown. Claire stepping into the role and did a great job, as well as Ericha [Fassbender] on beam. Grace [McLaughlin] came in as the third position on beam. I thought everyone that stepped in tonight not only did a phenomenal job, but they really competed with a lot of enthusiasm and heart. “We learned from the Alabama meet that it is important to have a great start and carry that momentum to the rest of the events. Claire started us off with what I feel is her best [bar] routine of the season. That was huge. I think everyone fed off that energy of her strong start and continued on that roll.” - Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn Freshmen filled several of those lineup spots tonight. How did they do? “I was thrilled for Ericha. It was the first time she’s done all-around. She’s shown tremendous progression throughout the season. We’ve had five meets and she gained experience and shown maturity each time. So tonight for her to do all four events and do as well as she did – I think it was huge for her. It is the same for Grace. She has been working hard all season and tonight she did a great job on beam. I was really happy with Grace’s performance. She warmed up three events and was ready to step in if needed. I’m thrilled with our freshmen and think they are doing a great job.” - Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn Noted: · Caquatto’s 9.925 on vault sets her collegiate best. · Grace McLaughlin<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/mclaughlin_grace.php> made her collegiate debut Friday, turning in a 9.775 on beam. · When the Gators last competed at Arkansas, a Gator freshman also won the all-around. Bridget Sloan<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/sloan_bridget.php> shared her first all-around win with senior teammate Ashanée Dickerson at 39.55 on Feb. 1, 2013. · Florida was without the reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, Kennedy Baker<http://www.gatorzone.com/gymnastics/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=47>. She suffered a concussion in Monday’s practice and was held out of Friday’s meet. Catch the SEC Network Broadcast of Friday’s Meet Friday’s broadcast of the Florida at Arkansas meet will air tape-delayed on the SEC Network Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. It also airs Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. ET. Find what channel the SEC Network is on in your area with the SEC Network Finder site.<http://getsecnetwork.com/channel-finder> National Rank: Florida – Florida is No. 2 in the Feb. 2 GymInfo rankings<http://www.troester.com/gym/WRankings/2015/0202/WT-20.htm>. The current rankings are based on total season average. Arkansas – The Razorbacks are No. 8 in the GymInfo rankings. Up Next: The Gators return home to play host to Missouri on Friday, Feb. 6 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Meet time is set for 6:45 p.m. Friday’s meet is Princess/Superhero Night and fans are encouraged to dress as their favorite princess or superhero. Come early to meet and mingle with other princesses and superheros who will be at Gate 4 to take pictures with fans. The first 1,000 fans, 12 and under, will receive a tiara or superhero mask. Missouri lost 195.825-195.150 to Kentucky Friday night in Columbia. The Tigers continue their home stand on Sunday, Feb. 8 when they meet Lindenwood. The Florida-Missouri dual will steam live beginning at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network+<http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/2321359/NCAA-Womens-Gymnastics-Missouri-vs-Florida-(W-Gymnastics)>, which can be viewed by all SEC Network subscribers. The meet also will air tape-delayed on ESPN2 on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.