Gators gymnastics edges Razorbacks

The No. 1 Florida gymnastics team followed Link to Pink’s meet performance by putting on a spectacular show on the road against No. 22 Arkansas last Friday evening.

Using the nation’s second-highest total of 2013, the Gators defeated the Razorbacks at Barnhill Arena, 197.575-196.175. Arkansas notched its season-high score as Florida won nearly every event.

Senior Ashanée Dickerson earned her third vault title of the season by notching a 9.95 on the event, while junior Mackenzie Caquatto earned the same mark to take home her second uneven bars title of the year. Freshman Bridget Sloan, who was named the SEC Gymnast of the Week on Tuesday, used a collegiate-best 9.925 to earn her second career balance beam title.

“I saw all of us come together and unite as a team,” Sloan said. “We really came together as a team tonight and as a freshman I had no idea what that feeling was going to be like but right now I feel like I’m on cloud nine and it’s absolutely incredible.”

The only event Florida didn’t earn first in was the floor exercise event where Arkansas’ junior Katherine Grable was victorious at 9.95. Dickerson and senior Marissa King were among the three-way tie for second at 9.90.

“We had a lot of passion,” Dickerson said. “We just went out there and had fun. We just do what we do everyday in the gym and it was a great win for us.”

Three Gators (4-1, 3-1 SEC) were highly competitive in the all-around category against the Razorbacks (1-3, 0-3 SEC), taking the top three spots. Sloan and Dickerson shared first place at 39.55 where Sloan earned her first career all-around. This marked Dickerson’s third all-around victory of the season and 16th of her career, while King came in third with a season-best 39.50.

Reigning SEC Gymnast of the Week and 2012 NCAA all-around champion, Kytra Hunter, performed only in the uneven bars and junior All-American Alaina Johnson is still out resting her sore back. Florida gymnastics coach Faehn wanted to give Hunter some rest during this competition, proving that the Gators gymnastics team can hold their own even without one of their most athletic gymnasts.

“I was really happy with the way all of our athletes responded, especially knowing that we were going to rest Kytra on three of the four events and Alaina was still out. They knew we were going to change up the lineups,” Faehn said. “And what I loved was that every athlete stepped up and took ownership of their event. I have told each and every athlete who gets put in the lineup that they are capable of scoring an amazing score.”

The Gators are back in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. Friday evening to take on No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, 3-0 SEC), the defending national champions. This is one of Florida’s most anticipated meets of the season. The meet will be aired Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. on Sun Sports.

Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at