Just making it to the Super Six is an incredible accomplishment in itself, and after the very first event it looked like the Gator women would just have to settle for making it that far.
Rather than packing it up after two gymnasts (Ashaneé Dickerson, Kytra Hunter) fell on the beam in the Gators very first event, the girls rallied behind each other and pulled off a miraculous comeback to win the first gymnastic national title in school history.
Not only was it the first gymnastic championship in school history, Florida became just the fifth team to win the title in the past 32 years joining Georgia, Alabama, UCLA and Utah.
“We wanted to leave everything out on the floor and we did today,” said Florida freshman Bridget Sloan. “We really just came together as a team. We were like, ‘We can do this. We can come back from this.’ We fought. This competition just goes to show that even with mistakes, if you fight until the end you will have a great outcome.”
And fight they did.
Florida put together a school record score of 49.725 on the floor exercise, including a 9.725 from Kytra Hunter, which was the highest score on any apparatus at the event and the highest score in Super Six history.
And just like that, Florida was back in it and in second place.
The comeback continued with a 49.500 on the vault and a 49.47 on bars.
“When the competition was nearing an end, I pulled the team into a huddle and said just stay calm,” Head coach Rhonda Faehn said. “I don’t know what’s going on. Nobody knows what’s going on with the scores. We have to wait until it’s done. That was kind of a hard time for all of us.”
But when the scores came in it was Florida on top of Oklahoma and Alabama with a final score of 197.375.
The National Championship is not only a milestone for the University, the athletes and for coach Faehn, but for one gymnastin particular it became the best birthday present ever.
In her final meet as a Gator, Marissa King celebrated her 22nd birthday the best way possible, as a champion.
“I will always remember my 22nd,” King said. “We just didn’t walk in and they handed us the trophy. We worked so hard for this.”