After the No. 1 Florida gymnastics team earned the nation’s highest total last week against No. 17 Auburn in the Link to Pink meet, sophomore Kytra Hunter was named SEC Gymnast of the Week.
Hunter took home three events to notch the all-around: vault (9.975), balance beam (9.900) and floor exercise (9.925). LSU’s junior Maliah Mathis is the SEC Specialist of the Week and Georgia’s Brittany Rogers is the SEC Freshman of the Week.
To notch her second all-around of the season and eight of her career, Hunter upped her own nation’s season-high from 39.675 to 39.70. That marks the second-highest of her young collegiate career as Hunter earned a 39.725 to win the 2012 NCAA all-around title.
Florida’s 197.65-196.025 win Friday in the O’Connell Center hit home for Hunter as she lost her grandmother to breast cancer in 2005. Hunter’s determination to make her grandmother proud showed throughout the meet, as the sophomore scores were nothing below a 9.90.
“It’s the favorite meet for many of us,” Hunter said. “We’re not just competing for the team, we’re also competing for a cause. For those of us who know someone who has battled cancer or lost someone, it’s fun to have those angels watching us compete.”
Hunter earned her third vault title of her career as she posted a collegiate best 9.975 on the event and notched the beam title by earning a season-best 9.90. The Gators’ floor win was her second of the season as Hunter now has 30 career event titles.
“I’ve been having a little trouble on beam during competitions so my main focus was on beam,” Hunter said. “That was my series that I’ve been having trouble with, so I fixed that. I think what really started the night was when we started to stick vaults back-to-back, and that really got us pumped up and it carried on through the whole meet.”
Hunter is now nationally ranked No. 1 in the all-around, tied for No. 2 in vault (9.942), No. 2 in bars (9.906) and floor (9.917) and tied for No. 18 in beam (9.844).
The Link to Pink Meet against Auburn (0-6, 0-3 SEC) will air Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU and again Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
After being lifted to No. 1 in the country, the Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to face No. 22 Arkansas on Friday at 8 p.m. in the Barnhill Arena. The meet will air Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. on CST.
Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at email@example.com.