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Sophomore Kytra Hunter upped the nation's leading all-around total to 39.70 with her win Friday.

Friday January 25, 2013No. 3 Florida Gymnastics use nation's top total to claim Gators Link to Pink title

Gainesville, Fla.

Sophomore Kytra Hunter upped the nation's leading all-around total to 39.70 with her win Friday.

The nation’s top total of 2013 pro The nation’s top total of 2013 propelled the No. 3 Florida gymnastics team (3-1, 2-1 SEC) to a win Friday in front of a pink-clad crowd of 8,159 – the sixth largest crowd in the program’s history. The Gators’ total of 197.65 leads the nation so far this season. No. 18 Auburn (0-6, 0-3 SEC) also turned in a season-best total Friday of 196.025.

 

Florida’s Event Winners

Event

Name

Score

Vault

Kytra Hunter

9.975

Uneven Bars

Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto

9.925

 

Bridget Sloan

9.925

Balance Beam

Kytra Hunter

9.900

Floor Exercise

Kytra Hunter

9.925

All-Around

Kytra Hunter

39.70

It was the seventh annual Gators Link to Pink meet. All of the Southeastern Conference’s gymnastics teams will have a pink meet this season, with the intention to help raise awareness about the fight against breast cancer.

 

Tonight’s meet will air tape-delayed on ESPNU Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. and again on ESPN2 Feb. 3 at 6 p.m.

 

Those who have faced cancer was something many of the Gator gymnasts had in the back of their minds Friday. Sophomore Kytra Hunter spoke about how the meet is anticipated by the team each year and how it inspires them.

 

“It’s the favorite meet for many of us. We’re not just competing for the team; we’re also competing for a cause,” Hunter said. “And for those of us who know someone who has battled cancer or lost someone; it’s fun to have those angels watching us compete. I know a lot of the girls look up to those angels so that’s really the only thing I can think of. And the few extra people we have [in the stands] did give us a lot of adrenaline.”

 

School colors were set aside Friday as both Florida and Auburn wore pink to show their support to raise breast cancer awareness. All Southeastern Conference gymnastics teams will participate in a pink meet this season.

Breast cancer took Hunter’s grandmother in 2005. She did have Grandmother Helen in her thoughts Friday and perhaps that helped boost Hunter to her second all-around title of the season – upping her own nation’s season-high from 39.675 to 39.70. That total is the second-highest of her young collegiate career. She set her collegiate-best of 39.725 to win the 2012 NCAA all-around title.

 

All of Hunter’s scores Friday were a 9.90 or above, including equaling her collegiate vault best of 9.975 for the third time of her career to take that title. It was the second consecutive meet a Gator has earned the near-perfect mark on vault, as senior All-American Ashanée Dickerson posted the mark last Friday versus Missouri. Dickerson shared second on vault tonight with fellow senior All-American Marissa King and freshman Bridget Sloan at 9.925.

 

Hunter also claimed her second floor win of 2013, anchoring the Gators’ lineup with a 9.925. She matched her season-best on balance beam of 9.90 to take the win.

 

“I’ve been having a little trouble on beam during competitions so my main focus was on beam; my series that I’ve been having trouble with, so I fixed that,” Hunter said. “I think what really started the night was when we started to stick vaults back-to-back and that really got us pumped up and it carried on through the whole meet.”

 

Florida did start the meet red-hot on vault, as the team’s total of 49.625 is just a fraction away from the program’s all-time record of 49.65 set versus UCLA in 2004.

 

“We definitely picked up more stuck landings and it showed,” UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn said. “It made a difference in the overall energy because everyone feeds off of that. It was great Marissa King finally put one in. The first couple of meets it was just a matter of her getting used to competition season.  Now she’s starting to zero in on where she’s landing.”

 

A pair of freshmen turned in collegiate-bests on the uneven bars to share that event title. Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto stepped into the Gator lineup tonight for the first time and posted a 9.925 to share the win with Sloan.

 

Dancose-Giambattisto’s mark equals the highest ever turned in by a Gator in their competitive bars premiere, equaling the mark set by junior All-American Alaina Johnson in 2011. It was Johnson who Dancose-Giambattisto replaced in the lineup tonight to rest a sore back.

 

Faehn thought Dancose-Giambattisto was impressive in her collegiate competitive debut.

 

“She’s a natural bars swinger.  She’s a beautiful bars swinger with incredible extension and toe point,” Faehn said. “When she competed elite for Canada she had a different dismount and we told her this [double layout] was something she needed to learn and she did. So to come out and not only do something new, be in the pressure of the line-up and stick I think that said a lot for her and her mental toughness.”

 

Dickerson and King also shared second with season-best floor marks of 9.90. Mackenzie Caquatto shared second on beam with Auburn’s Caitlin Atkinson at 9.875.

 

The Gators’ all-arounders took the top three spots. After Hunter, Dickerson was second at 39.525, just off her season-best total of 39.575 set last week. Sloan, making her all-around debut, took third at 39.425. Her total matches the third-highest tally by a Gator making their all-around debut.

 

Sloan, the 2009 World all-around champion and part of the U.S.’s 2008 silver medal Olympic team, learns something from each of the four collegiate meets she’s been a part of this season.

 

“This was the first time that I’ve done all-around so I learned that you definitely have to be ready for that last floor routine because it comes at you fast,” Sloan said. “I was really excited to get out there. We had a great crowd tonight, an unbelievable support system. Our routines were spot on. We were sticking all over the place and it was a great day to be a Gator.”

 

Faehn thought tonight’s enthusiastic crowd helped boost the Gators.

 

“The crowd was incredible. We’ve always said that when the crowd is full, there is so much energy then we do better because our gymnasts just feed off of it,” Faehn said. “We had some benchmarks we wanted to accomplish. Heading into this meet we wanted to compete aggressively, but we also wanted to compete some other athletes and stick some landings and I think we completed all three tonight.”

 

Florida will be in pink again next week, as they travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to face Arkansas on Friday, Feb. 1 for the Pink Meet. Competition begins at 8 p.m. ET in the Barnhill Arena.

 

No. 3 Florida versus No. 18 Auburn

Final Team Totals

Jan. 25, 2013 ● Stephen C. O’Connell Center (8,159)

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Florida

49.625

49.525

49.275

49.225

197.650

Auburn

48.950

48.950

49.075

49.050

196.025

 

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