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Gators junior Kytra Hunter has three of Florida's five perfect 10s this season.

Friday February 21, 2014Gators' Streak of Perfect 10s No Easy Feat in Eyes of a Judge

Gators junior Kytra Hunter has three of Florida's five perfect 10s this season.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- She has performed the same routine thousands of times at gymnastics meets all around the country.

And after 20 years, Amy Diuguid still needs only one hand to show the number of perfect 10s she has awarded.

"It's very difficult to give a 10,'' Diuguid said by phone Thursday. "I've only given five."

The fifth one came a few weeks ago when she judged LSU All-American Lloimincia Hall's floor routine a perfect 10 in a home meet against Alabama.

Hall is one of only three gymnasts this season -- Florida's Bridget Sloan and Kytra Hunter are the others -- to record multiple 10s.

Both of Hall's 10s came in the floor routine. Meanwhile, Sloan and Hunter electrified the O'Dome last month when they pulled off 10s on back-to-back floor routines in a victory over Georgia.

The Gators have made the rare perfect 10 seem commonplace in recent weeks. The two Gators have combined for five this season.

The week after her performance against Georgia, Hunter recorded another 10 on the floor Jan. 31 in a victory over No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. Sloan came back with a 10 on beam in a victory at Kentucky on Feb. 7.

Bridget Sloan

Finally, a week ago in a home win over Arkansas, Hunter nailed her vault routine for a 10. Sloan narrowly missed her third 10 of the season with a score of 9.975 on floor.

"I want the next 10,'' Sloan said. "One judge saw it, so that was good. That's what I'm going to keep pushing for."

Before you start thinking what Hunter and Sloan (photo, left) have done is routine, consider that in the 42-year history of the UF gymnastics program, the Gators have 20 perfect scores in individual events.

Hunter and Sloan have 25 percent of them in the past four meets. If college gymnastics awarded a Heisman Trophy like football, Hunter and Sloan would be at the top of the list of potential winners.

In fact, when LSU visits the O'Connell Center tonight, the building will be stocked with the top performers in the country. According to research on NCAA.com, there have been 10 perfect 10s this season.

Eight of them will be in the house. LSU's Rheagan Courville nailed a perfect score on vault, and Oklahoma's Haley Scaman (floor) and UCLA's Samantha Peszek (bars) have also pulled off the rare feat.

"It's going to be a really big meet,'' said Diuguid, who has not judged any of Florida's 10s this season but will be at the O'Dome tonight.

Florida coach Rhonda Faehn, who had a 10 on the vault at the 1987 U.S. Championships, is fully aware of the rarity of what the Gators have done in recent weeks.

After Sloan and Hunter went back-to-back on the floor against Georgia, Faehn was as excited as her team.

"I've never seen that before,'' she said afterward.

Much of that rarity lies in the fact that humans judge the sport. They may be watching the same routine, but their instant analysis can vary widely.

During the beam, vault and uneven bar routines, judges sit across from one another. As they judge the floor, they are on opposite ends diagonally from each other.

"That's why sometimes one judge with have a 10 and the other will have a 9.9 or 9.95," Diuguid said. "So you have to be perfect on both of those angles. That's so hard.

"We are judging the routine from this one angle. So it has to look perfect from our angle, and the other judge's angle. They might see a leg separation on one of the tumbling passes and I might not because of my angle."

The scrutiny increases during the postseason when four-judge panels determine scores. With the highest and lowest scores dropped, a gymnast would need to get three 10s on the four judges' scorecards to finish with a perfect score.

Diuguid and her colleagues are all members of the National Association of Women's Gymnastics Judges and USA Gymnastics.

They are assigned meets each week from the organization's directors based on their availability through an on-line scheduling system.

Diuguid was one of the judges when Gators junior Mackenzie Caquatto scored a 10 on bars last season against Missouri.

Judges score events using symbols, and when Diuguid looked at her scorecard, the same feeling swept over her as earlier this season when she judged Hall's floor routine to be perfect.

"I have to have nothing on my paper and I have to have that feeling that it was a perfect 10,'' she said. "If there is anything on my paper, like a tiny step or their chest is down, it just didn't feel like a 10 to me. I'm not going to give a 10.

"I don't feel persuaded by the crowd. I've got to have a feeling. It's all got to come together."

A perfect dismount is often what constitutes a 10 in the crowd's view, Diuguid said. But she refuses to get swept in the emotion of the moment.

"For the audience, that's the most exciting part, when they can stick,'' she said. "They have to look graceful and artistic, and they have to show power, too. There is so much that goes into a routine. Sticking the dismount is just one part. There is so much that comes before that.

"But obviously, you can't get the 10 unless you stick the dismount."

As she scores Diuguid focuses on an array of factors: overall skill, form, body control, balance, agility, flexibility and the height a performer reaches during her routine.

She won't know until tonight if she will see all those in a single routine. Her scorecard will tell her if she does.

But she can appreciate the rarity of what Sloan and Hunter have done of late.

"It is exciting that the girls are getting a 10,'' she said. "Once they get a 10, they know what that feels like to be able to get the next one. And every time I have [scored one], honestly, it's an amazing feeling."

 

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