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Freshman Kytra Hunter was one of four Gators to win event titles Friday, taking both the floor and all-around.

Friday January 13, 2012No. 3 Florida Gymnastics Opens Home Action with Win Over Illinois-Chicago

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman Kytra Hunter was one of four Gators to win event titles Friday, taking both the floor and all-around.

Four different Gators picked up apparatus victories Friday, as the preseason No. 3 Florida gymnastics team (2-0, 0-0 SEC) opened the 2012 home season with a 196.175-191.875  win over Illinois-Chicago (1-0) in front of a Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd of 4,796.

 

Tonight’s meet will air on SUN Sports Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m. and re-airs on Feb. 5 at 9:30 a.m.

 

Gator Event Winners Friday

Name

Event

Score

Ashanée Dickerson

Vault

9.90

Alaina Johnson

Bars

9.90

Marissa King

Beam

9.925

Kytra Hunter

Floor

9.925

Kytra Hunter

All-Around

38.925

Last week in the Gators’ season-opening win at North Carolina State, only freshman Kytra Hunter posted a mark of 9.90, which she used to pick up her first floor title. Tonight, each of the Gator event winners used marks of 9.90 or better to claim their event wins.

 

Florida opened the meet with solid team totals of 49.20 for both vault and uneven bars. Junior All-American Ashanée Dickerson pushed her collegiate total for vault wins to an even dozen with her season-best mark of 9.90. UF also received marks of 9.85 or better on the event from Nicole Ellis (9.85) and Hunter (9.875) as they rounded out the top three vault performances of the meet.

 

Sophomore All-American Alaina Johnson anchored the Gator lineup with her season-best of 9.90 to claim her second consecutive uneven bars title. Hunter was runner-up at 9.85, while Dickerson and Marissa King shared third at 9.825.

 

Florida used marks of 9.80 or better toward their balance beam total of 49.25 Friday. King was steady and solid in her anchor performance Friday, posting a collegiate-best 9.925 to take her second consecutive title on the event. Johnson and Dickerson shared second at 9.85.

 

A bruised heel kept King from showing the consistency she wanted on beam a year ago. Tonight, with the pressure of competing after a fall, King’s performance showed the results of her hard work in the gym.

 

“I’m really, really pleased with my beam. I was disappointed last year because of my injury, which affected me on the beam. I really trained hard this preseason because I want to be in the beam lineup. I want to be consistent and I want the girls to trust me and have confidence in me to hit my routine. Today showed that,” King said. “I’m really proud of myself for going out there and hitting that routine even with the pressure of having a fall before me.”

 

Although it is only the second competition of the season, Florida’s beam total of 49.25 Friday was bettered only three times during the entire course of last season. UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn liked what she saw from the lineup tonight, especially King’s rock-solid performance to end the lineup.

 

“On beam, I was thrilled with the way they performed,” she said. “I loved seeing that Marissa just attacked the beam after having an athlete fall. I could see it in her eyes before she went up – she knew she was going to hit and I knew she was going to hit. I had complete confidence in her.”

 

Hunter wowed the O’Connell Center crowd with her spectacular tumbling, as she picked up her second straight floor exercise win with her collegiate-best mark of 9.925. Johnson made her season debut on the event, taking second at 9.85 while junior Randy Stageberg was third with a 9.775.

 

The Gators were forced to count a fall toward their floor total for the first time since 2008, as the team tallied a 48.525.

 

Hunter was the only Gator entered in the all-around and she picked up her second straight win with a total of 38.925. Illinois-Chicago’s Rachel Montoya was runner-up at 38.65.

 

The heralded Florida freshmen class was excited to perform for the first time in front of the O’Connell Center crowd. Hunter got involved early, as she joined King in running out with the final two letters for the F-L-O-R-I-D-A flags to start the pre-meet introductions. She is starting to get the feel for collegiate competition and some of those adjustments came through in her floor.

 

“I showed off my routine more than I did at NC State. My landings were more controlled and I threw my head back (on finishes),” Hunter said. “I just went out there and had fun.”

 

Hunter likes the supportive atmosphere of collegiate competition.

 

“The cheering and going out there and having fun with your team are what I like,” Hunter said. “It’s not relaxing but it feels great to have a family behind you.”

 

Although the season is only two meets old, Faehn is already looking to keep the Gators fresh throughout the four-month season. Floor is the event where the gymnasts undergo the most pounding so that lineup will often have planned changes in personnel to give gymnasts opportunities to perform and to keep others in the best possible health. Tonight two All-American floor performers – Dickerson and King – did not compete on that event.

 

“We could easily go out there and compete with our strongest athletes and blow it out, but that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Faehn said. “It’s hard, and it’s frustrating for the athletes too, but we have to stick with the plan and make sure they are paced.

 

“It’s early – it’s the second meet – so there are going to be falls and mistakes, but it’s something we have to learn from,” she continued. “We’re trying to get everyone out there to gain experience and compete as much as possible.”

 

Next up for the Gators is the Southeastern Conference opener at No. 23 Kentucky on Friday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. Follow the Gators’ results at Friday’s meet via Twitter at GatorZoneGym.

 

 

Florida versus Illinois-Chicago - Final Team Totals

Jan. 13, 2012 ● Stephen C. O’Connell Center (4,796)

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Florida

49.200

49.200

49.250

48.525

196.175

Illinois-Chicago

48.175

48.000

47.800

47.900

191.875

 

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