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Florida took second to Alabama in Saturday's SEC Championships in Birmingham, Ala.

Saturday March 22, 2014Gator gymnastics second at Southeastern Conference Championships

Birmingham, Ala. -

Florida took second to Alabama in Saturday's SEC Championships in Birmingham, Ala.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Florida gymnastics team took second in the Southeastern Conference Championships held Saturday in front of 8,256 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC).

 

Florida Event Winners Saturday

Balance Beam:

Kytra Hunter

9.925

Floor Exercise

Kytra Hunter

9.95

All-Around

Bridget Sloan

39.70

Alabama claimed its eighth SEC team title at 197.875 while the Gators turned in a 197.70. LSU took third (197.325) followed by Georgia (197.15), Auburn (195.55), Kentucky (195.075), Arkansas (194.90) and Missouri (194.65).

 

The Gators led the meet through the opening three rotations and took a 0.125 lead over the Tide into their final event, the floor exercise. The Tide closed competition with a meet-high 49.65 on uneven bars. The Gators were forced to take a tenth deduction for an out-of-bounds on floor, but that wouldn’t have made the difference as Alabama’s margin of victory was 0.175.

 

A pair of Gators came away with at least a share of SEC event titles. Sophomore Bridget Sloan defended her all-around title with her total of 39.70. Junior Kytra Hunter won the event titles on Florida’s finishing events – balance beam (9.925) and floor exercise (9.95). It was her second consecutive league floor title as she also shared the 2013 title.

 

GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:

·         Sloan’s all-around win is her ninth consecutive. The nation’s top four all-around totals have been turned in 13 times this season and Sloan owns seven of those marks (39.825-once, 39.75-twice, 39.70-four times). Bridget Sloan’s career total of all-around wins now stands at 16 – which ties for fifth all-time on the Gator career list.

·         For the first time in Florida’s 34 SEC Championship appearance, a pair of Gators went 1-2 in the all-around. Hunter was second at 39.65. Hunter has finished in the top three of the SEC Championships’ all-around competition each year of her collegiate career – first in 2012, third in 2013 and second in 2014.

·         Hunter is the first Gator to win the SEC balance beam title since Corey Hartung claimed a share of the 2008 title.

·         The all-around win has gone to a Gator in each of Florida’s 11 meets this season. Sloan has eight straight wins. Hunter won the season opener and shared the third title with Sloan. Johnson became the third Gator all-around winner last Friday.

 

GATORS EARNING ALL-SEC HONORS:

The All-SEC team is made up of the top two finishers on each event in each session of SEC Championships’ competition. Joining Sloan and Hunter on the 2014 All-SEC team are seniors Alaina Johnson and Mackenzie Caquatto.

 

Johnson, Mackenzie Caquatto and Sloan were among a seven-way tie for second on bars (9.95). Mackenzie Caquatto also shared second on beam at 9.90.

 

FLORIDA IN THE SEC: Florida was looking for its third consecutive SEC title tonight. The Gators have won nine SEC team titles (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013).

 

WATCH: The 2014 SEC Championships airs tape-delayed on ESPNU March 27 at 5:30 p.m. ET and on ESPN2 March 29 at 11 a.m. ET.

 

QUOTES
On Florida’s performance Saturday:

“I thought we did amazing. I think that was the best beam we have done all year. It was really solid. Bars, I feel like that was the best we have done all year. Vault was really solid, great all around. It was just finishing up we could have been a little bit stronger, but even if we had done our absolute best it would have been a real push. Give credit to Alabama, they did a great job tonight.

 

“We know that winning this conference is so hard. You cannot afford to count a mistake because that will take you down in the rankings. This result is just going to fuel our athletes to come out fighting really hard at regionals and nationals.” – Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn

 

On the level of competition:

“This conference is always so challenging. I have said it before, I really feel like this meet is harder than the Super Six competition. I love that it puts our athletes under this intense pressure situation - especially being here, almost in the hometown of Alabama. I thought our athletes responded wonderfully. I think it is going to be a great fuel. It will motivate them to train hard for the next couple of weeks to get ready for regionals and come out fighting really hard.”

 

How will tonight’s experience help the Gators?

“The SEC is filled with great teams. And every single team knows what it takes to win. It is all about the little details – the handstands, the toe point on bars, the sticks on landings.

 

“The Florida Gators will be back. We will go back to the gym and work hard to prepare so that at regionals and nationals, we are spot on.” – sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan

 

As the defending SEC and NCAA champions, did you think the Gators came in with a target on their back?

“We did come in with a target on our back. I think it is better to come in with a target on your back and know that teams want to beat you. The SEC is a big rivalry and it’s a friendly rivalry. I want to thank the crowd tonight. They were very respectful – they just wanted to see great gymnastics and that was awesome to see. Alabama, LSU and Georgia are all great competitors of ours. It is going to be really exciting when we are all back here for NCAAs.” – sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan

 

What is the plan going forward?

“This result definitely fuels our motivation. We will go home, watch film, critique ourselves and be hard on ourselves. Because that’s what needs to happen to win a NCAA title.

 

“There were a few problems on the other events. There were a couple of dismounts on bars where we didn’t get the stick and on vault there were some steps on landings. I know for myself, I’m going to go into practice and make sure every turn counts. It is an entire team effort. There are areas where things could have gone a little bit better. But it is fixable and we’ll be ready for regionals and NCAAs.” – junior All-American Kytra Hunter  

 

WORTH NOTING

·         Florida equaled its season bars best of 49.625 for the third consecutive meet. It is the fourth highest in school history. The 9.95 bars mark turned in by Mackenzie Caquatto, Alaina Johnson and Bridget Sloan equals the highest ever by a Gator in SEC bars competition.

·         A pair of Gators set or matched their collegiate-best on vault.  Sloan equaled her collegiate-best of 9.95 for the sixth time in 2014 and eighth time of her career.  Junior Rachel Spicer set her collegiate vault best at 9.90.

·         Hunter anchored the Gators’ balance beam lineup by matching her collegiate best of 9.925 for the fifth time. The mark is a season-best for Hunter.

·         Sloan is Florida’s first since Melissa Miller in 1988 and 1989 to win consecutive SEC all-around titles. One other Gator claimed consecutive league all-around wins – Lynn McDonnell in 1981 and 1982.

·         This is the second consecutive year that each of the SEC Championships’ top four teams all posted totals above 197.

·         Tonight’s attendance of 8,256 is the third-highest since the league championships went to neutral site venues beginning in 2001. The BJCC Arena will play host to the 2014 NCAA Championships April 18-20. Florida gymnasts have now used a mark of 9.95 to win the SEC Championships’ floor title four times since 2008 – Amanda Castillo (2007, 2008), Bridget Sloan (2013) and Kytra Hunter (2013, 2014). A Gator also won floor the last time the SEC Championships were held in Birmingham, Ala., as Ashanée Dickerson used a 9.925 to share the 2011 crown.

 

NATIONAL RANK:

Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the March 17 GymInfo rankings.

The current rankings are based on regional qualifying score (RQS consists of a team's three highest road scores and the next three highest scores. The high score is subtracted from the six event total and the remaining amount is divided by five).

 

The SEC has six in current top 15 – No. 1 Florida, No. 2 LSU, No. 4 Alabama, No. 6 Georgia, No. 12 Auburn and No. 15 Arkansas.

 

SEC EVENT CHAMPIONS:

All-Around

Bridget Sloan

Florida

39.70

Vault

Diandra Milliner

Alabama

9.975

 

Lauren Johnson

Georgia

9.975

Bars

Kaitlyn Clark

Alabama

9.975

Beam

Kytra Hunter

Florida

9.925

Floor

Kytra Hunter

Florida

9.95

 

Diandra Milliner

Alabama

9.95

 

Lloimincia Hall

LSU

9.95

                               

UP NEXT:

The six-team fields and individual event competitors for each of the six NCAA Regional Championships sites are announced Monday, March 24 at 3 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.

 

The top two teams from each of the six regional sites will advance to the NCAA Championships, set for April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.

 

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No. 1 Florida at Southeastern Conference Championships

Final Team Totals

March 22, 2014 ● Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center (8,256)

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Alabama

49.525

49.650

49.275

49.425

197.875

Florida

49.375

49.625

49.350

49.350

197.700

LSU

49.525

49.350

49.100

49.350

197.325

Georgia

49.450

49.700

49.050

48.950

197.150

Auburn

48.975

48.975

48.850

48.750

195.550

Kentucky

49.175

49.050

48.825

48.025

195.075

Arkansas

48.925

48.125

49.000

48.850

194.900

Missouri

48.850

49.000

48.625

48.175

194.650

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 SEC Gymnastics Awards

Gymnast of the Year: Katherine Grable, Arkansas

Event Specialist of the Year: Lindsey Cheek, Georgia

Freshman of the Year: Amanda Wellick, Arkansas

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Kim Jacob, Alabama

Coach of the Year: Jeff Graba, Auburn

 

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