Florida Gators gymnastics to meet Kentucky in top 10 match-up

Special report on the Florida Gators gymnastics team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida gymnastics meets its second consecutive top-10 opponent this Friday at the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum. Florida and Kentucky share No. 6 on the current Road to Nationals rankings.

This is first time in the 84 all-time meetings between Florida and Kentucky both teams bring a top-10 ranking.

How to Follow the Gators:
This is one of two dual meets across the nation this weekend featuring top-10 matchups (other is No. 10 Alabama at No. 2 LSU). Both meets air live Friday on the SEC Network.

The UF-UK meet kicks off the Jan. 19 Friday Night Heights action at 7 p.m. ET. Olympians John Roethlisberger and Alicia Sacramone Quinn call Friday’s action with Lauren Sisler adding sideline reports.

On the go Friday? Follow the action on WatchESPN.

In the Gators’ Home Opener:
It was the nation’s top dual meet of the weekend and the competition between then No. 7 Florida and No. 1 LSU lived up to the billing. LSU’s margin of victory – 0.125 of a point – marks the fifth time among LSU’s last eight wins against UF (dating back to 2015 season) that 0.150 or less resulted in a Tiger victory.

Friday’s crowd of 9,661 at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center was the first sellout in program history.

The Gators led the meet after the opening rotation, but trailed LSU by 0.175 at the midway point. Florida only could gain a quarter of a tenth on each of the final two rotations, not enough to close the mid-meet gap, as LSU won 197.25 – 197.125. Florida senior Alex McMurtry won her second consecutive uneven bars title of the season with a 9.925. Sophomore Rachel Gowey’s 9.95 on balance beam equaled the high mark of the evening. That scored set her collegiate best to give Gowey her second consecutive beam win.

Freshman Megan Skaggs tied senior teammate Kennedy Baker for second in the floor standings at 9.925. That is the highest mark ever for a Gator making her collegiate floor debut.

LSU’s Lexie Priessman took the vault win at 9.925. Myia Hambrick used a 9.95 to win floor exercise for the Tigers. She also was the all-around winner at 39.55.

About the Wildcats:
Kentucky’s been impressive in its opening two meets. The Wildcats started the season by winning the Excite Night quad (196.075) in front of a sold out Rupp Arena crowd of 10,006. Last Friday, the Wildcats opened Southeastern Conference road action with a 196.95-196.525 win at then No. 11 Arkansas. UK’s Ella Warren shared the latest SEC Freshman of the Week honor after her performance at Arkansas.

The Wildcats return two All-Americans and bring in six freshmen. 2017 SEC Freshman of the Year Mollie Korth won the all-around at Arkansas (39.525) and also took the vault and floor wins.

National Rank:
Florida – Florida is No. T-6 in the second Road to Nationals standings.
Kentucky – The Wildcats are also No. T-6 in the Road to Nationals standings.

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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.