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No. 1 Florida defeated No. T-3 Georgia 197.525-196.825 Friday. UF's score is the nation's eighth best of 2012.

Friday February 24, 2012No. 1 Florida Gymnastics Defeat No. 3 Georgia

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 1 Florida defeated No. T-3 Georgia 197.525-196.825 Friday. UF's score is the nation's eighth best of 2012.

The No. 1 Florida gymnastics team (9-1, 5-1 SEC) finished its Southeastern Conference regular-season schedule with a 197.525-196.825 win over No. T-3 Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC) Friday in front of a Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd of 6,134.

 

Gator Event Winners Friday

Vault

Kytra Hunter

9.95

Uneven Bars

Marissa King

9.925

Balance Beam

Marissa King

9.95

Floor Exercise

Kytra Hunter

9.95

All-Around

Kytra Hunter

39.675

As the pre-meet rankings showed, Friday’s meet was sure to be a tight competition and the action in the O’Connell Center Friday lived up to those expectations.

 

The Gators led the meet after each rotation and headed into the final event with a lead of 0.525 – a margin that clearly showed the win was still uncertain. Three consecutive out-of-bounds deductions of a tenth each on three Florida floor performers put the focus clearly on the Gators’ final two competitors to hit cleanly and to hit big.

 

The pair produced on both counts.

 

Junior All-American Ashanée Dickerson put up a 9.925 and freshman Kytra Hunter anchored the lineup with 9.95 to take her fifth floor win of the season. Their performances led the Gators to their final total which stands as the nation’s eighth-highest of the season and gave Florida just its second dual meet win in the O’Connell Center since 1990 over the perennial power Gym Dogs. Florida also won in 2010 in Georgia’s last visit to Gainesville for the first victory in 10 home duals between the two SEC teams.

 

Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn was surprised by the step-outs, but couldn’t fault the effort shown her team.

 

“Going out of bounds three times on floor was a little bit shocking, but I’ve always told them that if they’re going to make a mistake, I want it to be made going 100 percent full-throttle, and that’s what they were doing,” Faehn said. “They were so hyped up and energized that the mistake came from that. I don’t want them to make mistakes by holding back. That’s a minor thing, but it was surprising that it was three in a row.”

 

Hunter also took the evening’s all-around and vault titles with Gator season-best scores. Her 39.675 pushed her season all-around wins tally to four and the total equals the nation’s third-best all-around total of 2012 (Arkansas’ Katherine Grable and Jaime Pisani  share the nation’s high of 39.725).

 

She equaled her collegiate-best of 9.95 for the second consecutive meet for her third vault win of the season. Dickerson and sophomore Alaina Johnson shared second on vault at 9.90 with UGA sophomore Cat Hires.

 

Faehn spoke about the freshman’s presence of mind, which saved the Gators from taking a fourth step-out deduction.

 

“She’s amazing. I can’t say enough about how incredible she is, not just as a talented athlete but as a strong mental competitor,” Faehn said. “Kytra could have easily stepped out of bounds on that first pass but there was no way she was going to do that.”

 

The other event titles were picked up by junior All-American Marissa King. King’s 9.925 helped the Gators post a 49.40 on bars – their third consecutive bar total on the event of 49.40 or better. King’s win was her second of the season. Johnson was runner-up on bars at 9.90 and Dickerson shared third at 9.875 with UGA’s Noel Couch and Chelsea Davis.

 

King anchored the Gators balance beam set by matching her collegiate-best mark of 9.95 for the third time this season. She also had a 9.95 last Friday at Auburn and tonight’s win is her fifth of 2012.

 

The energy of the team and of the crowd sporting the blinking slotted shades that was tonight’s giveaway buoyed King Friday.

 

“We had a lot of energy tonight. As soon as we ran out of the tunnel it was wicked with flashing lights from the sunglasses, and we had a great crowd come out tonight to support us. I love to compete at home. It is just so awesome every time. It is really fun performing in front of a great responding crowd and that is what we had tonight.”

 

Hunter equaled her beam best with her runner-up mark of 9.925. Dickerson shared third at 9.90 with Georgia sophomore Kaylan Earls. As a team, Florida turned in its third-best beam total of 2012 at 49.45.

 

All six all-around competitors tonight posted totals of 39.40 or better. Dickerson was runner-up at 39.575 and King shared third with Georgia senior Kat Ding at 39.45.

 

The performances and balance throughout the Gators’ lineup are keys for this team, Faehn said.

 

“I love the variety that we have in the lineup. Randy Stageberg is the most perfect and most beautiful beam starter. I know that when she goes up she is always going to nail her routine. The starting roles are just as key as the all-arounders, if not more, because they’re the ones setting the tone for the lineup,” Faehn said. “I’m really pleased with the depth and variety of the routines and the skill choice. You’re not seeing the same thing over again. I think this is a really good balance of the group.”

Tonight’s meet airs on SUN Sports March 3 at 4 p.m. (Gainesville/Ocala Cox Cable channel 48 or 1048).

 

Florida now travels to Lincoln, Neb., to face No. 9 Nebraska on Sunday, March 4. The Cornhuskers upset No. 7 Arkansas 197.00-196.30 in Fayetteville, Ark., Friday evening. Meet time is set for 3 p.m. ET in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

 

No. 1 Florida versus No. T-3 Georgia

Feb. 24, 2012 ● Stephen C. O’Connell Center (6,134)

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Florida

49.375

49.400

49.450

49.300

197.525

Georgia

49.250

49.225

49.125

49.225

196.825

 

 

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