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Friday February 3, 2012No. 3 Florida Gymnastics Drop First Meet of Season at No. 6 Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -

The No. 3 Florida gymnastics team (6-1, 2-1 SEC) lost its first meet of the season Friday in front of a Coleman Coliseum crowd of 12,457, as defending NCAA champion and No. 6 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) used the nation’s second-highest total of the season of 197.725 to take the win over UF’s 196.90.

 

The nation’s top two team totals of the season have been posted in the Gators’ last two competitions. Florida set the 2012 national high total of 197.775 last week in its home win over then No. 1 Arkansas, No. 24 Maryland and Bridgeport. Tonight, the Crimson Tide posted the nation’s second-highest total of 2012 with their winning tally.

Gator Event Winners Friday

Uneven Bars

Mackenzie Caquatto

9.90

Balance Beam

Ashanée Dickerson

9.90

The Gators come away tonight with a very solid road score, which is needed for seeding for the NCAA championship portion of the season. But UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn said the little mistakes added up for the Gators tonight.

“It was definitely not our best night. There were areas where we were a little flat or a bit sluggish. We didn’t get some of the landings and the team knows that,” Faehn said. “They’re human and that’s normal after coming off such a high from last week.”

The Gators weren’t quite as sharp on their opening rotation, the uneven bars, as a week ago as steps on dismounts dinged their scores. UF posted a team bars total of 49.225. Sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto won the event title for the second consecutive week, this time using a 9.90 to take her eighth bar win of her career. Alaina Johnson shared second on the event with UA’s Ashley Priess and Ashley Sledge at 9.875.

The Tide started out big on the opening rotation, posting the nation’s leading vault total of 49.60. That total was boosted by big marks from its later portion of the lineup as Diandra Milliner won the event with her first 10.0 on vault, while Marissa Gutierrez was second at 9.95 and senior All-American Geralen Stack-Eaton returned from a week off due to a concussion to post a 9.925.

Florida earned a 49.25 on the vault as steps on the landing hurt their potential score. Freshman Kytra Hunter led UF on the event with her mark of 9.90 while Johnson turned in a 9.875.

On floor exercise, Florida was led by Ashanée Dickerson’s 9.875. Hunter also posted a 9.85 and Amy Ferguson opened up the floor set with a 9.825 as the Gators tallied a 49.10 on the event. While the Gators were on floor, the Tide was posting the nation’s third-highest balance beam total of 49.425. Three Tide performers earned 9.90 beam marks – Milliner, Sarah DeMeo and Priess.

Faehn challenged her Gators to finish strong when they went to beam for their final event.

“What I loved is the heart they showed on balance beam,” Faehn said. “I challenged them on their last event to show their heart and they did just that.”

The Gators went six-for-six on their finishing event and turned in its second-highest beam total of the season (49.325). Dickerson used her second-consecutive 9.90 on the event to earn a share of her second beam title of the season and the 10th of her career. Marissa King anchored the beam set with a 9.875 while Randy Stageberg and Johnson each earned 9.85.

Performing in front of a big crowd against one of the nation’s top teams is an experience Faehn thinks will help this team later in the season.

 

“It’s going to be a great learning experience for them. We walk away tonight with a really solid road score,” Faehn said. “We obviously have things we are going to work on when we get back home and that’s fine because we have nowhere to go but up.”

Tonight’s meet airs on CST (Gainesville/Ocala Cox Cable channel 259) Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

 

Florida now returns home to play host to one of its most popular meets of the season – the Sixth Annual Link to Pink meet presented by Nationwide. The Gators will face No. 14 LSU on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Link to Pink meet is part of a Southeastern Conference initiative to raise awareness about breast cancer prevention and treatment. Each of the league’s teams will participate in a “pink” meet this season, with each team wearing its own shade of pink. More than 8,200 fans turned out in support of last year’s meet at the O’Connell Center.

 

The first 2,000 fans Friday receive a free pink t-shirt courtesy of Nationwide and the first 1,000 fans receive Link to Pink posters compliments of Nationwide and Sun Sports. Fans can pick up buy one, get one free admission coupons at Gainesville area Chick-fil-a locations. Tickets for Friday’s meet are $4 for adults while children 17 and under and UF students with Gator 1 cards are admitted free.

 

 

No. 3 Florida at No. 6 Alabama

Feb. 3, 2012 ● Coleman Coliseum (12,457)

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Alabama

49.600

49.25

49.425

49.450

197.725

Florida

49.250

49.225

49.325

49.100

196.900

 

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