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Rachel Spicer turned in a 9.825 on floor in Florida's 196.65-196.625 win at UCLA.

Saturday January 11, 2014Preseason No. 1 Gator gymnastics team nips No. 4 UCLA to open 2014 season


Rachel Spicer turned in a 9.825 on floor in Florida's 196.65-196.625 win at UCLA.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The preseason top-ranked Florida gymnastics team claimed a win by the narrowest margin possible – 0.025 – at No. 4 UCLA in the season opener for both teams held in front of Pauley Pavilion crowd of 5,265. The Gators’ total of 196.65 put a fraction in Florida’s favor as the Bruins posted a total of 196.625.


Florida Event Winners Saturday

Uneven Bars:

Bridgette Caquatto


Floor Exercise

Kytra Hunter



Kytra Hunter


In the all-time four regular-season meetings between the two teams in Pauley Pavilion, tonight was the first Gator win in the Bruins’ home arena. This was the second Pauley Pavilion appearance for the Gators in as many meets, as Florida finished the 2013 season by winning the program’s first NCAA Championship in the arena last April.


It was evident that it was first meet of the season for both teams as some routines were missing the polish that comes with more competitions. Florida had a fall on three of the four events, but none of those misses were computed into the final team total. The Gators owned a three-tenths lead heading into the final rotation. The Bruins turned in their highest event total of the evening, 49.375, on floor exercise but Florida finished with just enough, 49.10, on balance beam to take the win.



·         Junior All-American Kytra Hunter took two event titles – all-around (39.375) and floor exercise (9.925). The two wins push her career total of event titles to 41, making her the 12th to collect 40 or more event titles during their Gator career. The all-around win was her 11th as a Gator.

·         Sophomore Bridgette Caquatto used a collegiate-best 9.90 to share the evening’s uneven bars title with UCLA’s Olivia Courtney. It was her first event title of her collegiate career.

·         Senior Mackenzie Caquatto anchored the Gators’ balance beam lineup with a vital mark of 9.875 to take third overall in the event’s standings.


RECORDS: Florida (1-0, 0-0 SEC SEC); UCLA (0-1, 0-0 Pac-12).


THE SERIES: All-time, UCLA leads 25-10. All but nine of the all-time meetings have come in NCAA Regional or Championship action.


WATCH: The Florida-UCLA dual replays Sunday, Jan. 12 at 1 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network. Cox Cable in Gainesville/Ocala is providing a free Pac-12 Network preview weekend for its digital subscribers. The Pac-12 Network can be found on channel 704 or in HD on 1704 (only available to Cox Contour subscribers).


What did you think of the Gators’ performance tonight?

“It is a great starting point. I told the team afterward it is incredibly challenging to start your first meet on the road. I challenged them to compete their hearts out and to compete aggressively. And they did that. We had numerous mistakes and areas that we are going to work on but that is what it is – a starting point.  They know where we have to go from here.


What I loved seeing is how strong they finished on balance beam. There were some areas that we struggled as the meet went on and they finished strong to come out with the win. I think it speaks volumes for how strong they will be.” - Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn


How did the freshmen perform tonight?

“For the freshmen, I encouraged them to use this as a first step. I thought Claire (Boyce) did a phenomenal job. Really impressed with her competitive mind and I feel we could see her on the other events later this season knowing that she is such an aggressive competitor. Sylvia (Colussi-Pelaez) did two exhibition routines on bars and floor. She was pretty solid – did have a fall on bars but it is a starting point. She has strong potential which will be strengthened when she has more competitions.” - Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn


What will the Gators be working on in practice?

“We have a quick turnaround because we leave for Auburn on Thursday so we really only have two practices. It is going to be a matter of putting in more numbers. We know there are going to be mistakes when we don’t put in enough numbers. We intentionally did that. We knew they weren’t going to be 100 percent like we would be at the end of the season. We have to pace our athletes and make sure they aren’t going to break down early in the season. So we’ll put in a little bit more numbers to help them be confident and consistent going into future meets.” - Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn


What did you think of the Gators’ first meet of the season?

“Personally, I don’t want to start out the season with a 198 score. We had some errors here and there but I always say “Get them out early.” All in all, it was a great opportunity for us to show off our new freshmen and to show what our team is made of. I thought it was a great first meet for us.” - sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan


After a couple of stumbles, how did the team bring the mood up?

“We knew as a first meet, it was a little bit unknown territory. We haven’t competed for a while so Rhonda told us to keep confident and cheer each other on. It was awesome to see that if we had a mistake, the next person after the mistake was able to get it right back. I thought that was incredible.


As a team we were able to pull it together. We didn’t have the best score as a team but in the end we had a decent enough of a one to get the win. It was a learning experience.” - sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan


What will you be working on in upcoming practices?

“I’ll be doing side aerials all day long (the skill missed in Saturday’s beam routine). I think I need to focus a little bit more. I was definitely focused for the beginning of the routine and then toward the end of the routine I thought “One skill left.” That one skill wasn’t the greatest skill ever. It will come down to putting in numbers in the training.” - sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan


What is the addition to your beam routine this season?

“The front aerial is a very new skill for me. I actually was not nervous one bit for it, which is awesome. I absolutely love doing that skill and begged Rhonda to let me put it in my beam routine for this season. So it was awesome to get the chance to show it off. I did that skill in Elite, then took it out, so I’m glad to bring back some of my Elite skills and put them in my routines.” - sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan


Florida opened the season with three all-arounders (Mackenzie Caquatto, Bridget Sloan and Kytra Hunter)…the Gators last had three all-arounders in a season-opener in 2012, taking the top three spots in a dual at North Carolina State…two made their debuts in Florida’s competitive lineups Saturday – sophomore Bridgette Caquatto made her first appearance among UF’s six vault competitors and freshman Claire Boyce was part of the balance beam and floor exercise lineups…the Gators turned in the third-highest season-opening total in school history (behind 2008’s total of 197.125 and 196.925 in 2011…Hunter collects her second season opening all-around win tonight, as she also won the title in her collegiate debut in 2012…Sloan’s runner-up vault mark of 9.925 was just off her collegiate-best of 9.95, which she last earned in the 2013 NCAA Super Six team final…Florida has edged UCLA by a 0.025 margin in two of the last three meetings between the two teams – UF used the same margin to take second over UCLA at the 2012 NCAA Championships Super Six team final…in the nine all-time regular season meetings between these two programs, tonight’s result was the second decided by 0.025…the Bruins edged Florida by the slimmest margin allowed in the sport in their last regular-season visit to Gainesville for the 2004 regular-season finale (198.25-198.225).



Vault – Olivia Courtney (9.975)

Bars – Courtney (9.90)

Beam - Samantha Peszek (9.925)


Preseason National Rank:

Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the GymInfo preseason poll. It is the first time since the first release of a preseason poll in 1992 that the Gators top the list.

UCLA – The Bruins are No. 4 in the GymInfo preseason poll. 



The Gators head to Auburn, Ala., to face Auburn (1-0, 0-0 SEC) for the Southeastern Conference opener for both programs. Meet time is set for 8 p.m. on Jan. 17. Auburn opened its 2014 season Friday with a 194.875-189.825 win over Texas Woman’s University in front of an Auburn Arena crowd of 5,032.


The Florida-Auburn dual will air tape-delayed on ESPNU (Gainesville/Ocala channel 251 on Cox Cable) on Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. ET.


Streaming video of Friday’s meet can be found on Auburn All-Access. Scoring will be available on


Florida Gymnastics

Florida Gators






@UFCoachRhonda (Rhonda Faehn)


No. 1 Florida at No. 4 UCLA

Final Team Totals

Jan. 11, 2014 ● Pauley Pavilion (5,265)



























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