High definition highlights from the Gators’ narrow win over Auburn at home — video by Jeremy Silveira.
For the second consecutive year, the No. 1 University of Florida gymnastics team (2-0, 1-0 SEC) needed a big performance on the final event to take the win in its dual meet with No. 4 Auburn (1-2, 0-2 SEC) on Friday night at the O’Connell Center. Last year, Florida used a six-for-six balance beam set to take the win at Auburn. This year, the Gators needed to hit their floor exercise routines to overcome the 0.175 deficit after the third rotation.
A less-than-stellar beam set put the Gators in the negative position heading into the final rotation.
Florida’s floor set total of 49.45 – the nation’s highest of this young season – moved the Gators past the Tigers for a 196.50-196.25 win. Four Gators finished among the meet’s top three floor performers, including the event winner Corey Hartung. She matched her collegiate best of 9.95 for the sixth time of her career to win her second consecutive floor title. Smith matched her collegiate-best set a week ago of 9.90 to take second. Three shared third at 9.875 – Florida’s Melanie Sinclair and Elizabeth Mahlich and Auburn’s A.J. Mills.
The Gators opened up the meet with strong performances on vault and uneven bars. Smith, making her first appearance in a competitive vault lineup since her freshman season at UCLA in 2006, turned in a collegiate-best 9.90 for her first vault win. Sinclair and freshman Nicole Ellis shared third at 9.85, helping UF to a season-best total of 49.225.
The top event total of the evening was turned in by the Gators on their next event, the uneven bars. Florida’s total of 49.50 – also the nation’s top total so far in 2009 – was boosted by a three-way Gator tie for first at 9.925. The score was a collegiate-best for two-thirds of the bar winners – sophomore Alicia Goodwin and Hartung. Sinclair was also among the top bar performers, sharing her second consecutive bar win of the season.
Although no falls were used toward Florida’s balance beam total of 48.325, the event total reflects several balance checks and wobbles. Sinclair was Florida’s top performer on the event, taking fourth at 9.80. The Tigers swept the beam in the final standings – Puckett (9.90), Rachel Inniss (9.875) and A.J. Mills (9.85).
Hartung picked up her 13th all-around title as a Gator Friday with her season-best total of 39.475. Sinclair edged her season-best up to 39.45 to take second.
The Gators were without junior Rebekah Zaiser, who is out for the season after breaking a bone in her right foot while practicing her floor routine Tuesday. Zaiser led off the UF beam set in every meet last season and also was UF’s first performer on beam and floor last Friday in the 2009 opener versus Oklahoma.
Next week, Florida travels to No. 5 Arkansas for its first road meet of the season. Meet time is set for 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23