History is made as Florida Gators gymnastics rallies to win program’s first NCAA Championship

By Corey Mitleider and Scott Barr – OGGOA Contributors

WEEKEND: Tennis wins SEC Tournament, again | Lacrosse routs Northwestern

A devastating start to the NCAA Super Six made it look as if No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics was going to fall short of its lofty goals yet again. Instead, an incredible rally by a tough and determined team led Florida to a come-from-behind victory and the 2013 NCAA Championship, the first in the history of the program.

The Gators became just the fifth team in NCAA history to win a national title in gymnastics, doing so Saturday at UCLA’s home gym, the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. UF joined Alabama, Georgia, UCLA and Utah as the only programs to win a national championship in the last 32 years.

Florida finished with a final score of 197.575, defeating Oklahoma (197.375), Alabama (197.350), UCLA (197.100), LSU (197.050) and Georgia (196.675) to claim the school’s second national title in gymnastics. UF previously won the AIWA title in 1982.

Despite emerging victorious on Saturday, the Gators trailed through the first five rotations of the meet due to a terrible start on balance beam to open the competition. Even though Florida was the top-ranked team heading into the Super Six, UF did not compete in the Olympic rotation order, instead beginning on beam, followed with a bye, then floor exercise, vault, a second bye, and finishing on uneven bars.

The Gators registered their third-lowest score of the season on beam; considering the stakes and the competition, it made an elusive national title appear completely out of reach just one rotation into the competition.


Two of Florida’s best performers – senior Ashanee Dickerson (9.075) and sophomore All-American Kytra Hunter (9.325) – fell off the beam, forcing UF to count one of their extremely low scores towards the team total in the event. The Gators finished with a 48.875, the program’s lowest score on any apparatus over the course of the season and the worst event score out of the entire Super Six field.

Fortunately, the team had a bye during the second rotation and was able to regroup after a disappointing start to the meet. UF began its steep climb back into contention when it moved to floor on the third rotation.

The Gators brushed off another bad score, the first of the floor rotation, to put together a school-record 49.725 in the event. The NCAA Super Six-record score included a huge 9.975 by Hunter and three 9.950s from freshman All-American Bridget Sloan, senior Marissa King and freshman Bridgette Caquatto.

Florida continued its historic comeback with a 49.500 on vault. Sloan registered her third 9.950 of the afternoon on the apparatus and saw three teammates – Hunter, King and junior Alaina Johnson – contribute 9.900s.

The incredibly impressive totals in those two events put the Gators right back in the competition. Florida had its second bye during the fifth rotation and watched as Alabama pulled slightly ahead by 0.025 with one rotation to go. UF, which lost the 2012 title to UA by 0.075, had a chance for redemption.

The Gators kept their heads on the bars but did not start with overly impressive scores. Each of the first three gymnasts to compete for Florida registered sub-9.900 scores. Fortunately for the Gators, the Crimson Tide struggled on the beam.

Alabama had Kayla Williams register a 9.625 on the apparatus, a score that otherwise would have been thrown out had Sarah DeMeo not fallen off of the beam. UA was forced to count the 9.625, putting UF one step closer to the title.

Florida’s final three gymnasts contributed big scores with Sloan and junior Mackenzie Caquatto turning in 9.900s and Johnson registering a huge 9.950.

The Gators had the leading scorer in each event with Hunter’s 9.975 on floor standing as the highest individual score in the entire meet. In fact, seven of the nine 9.950+ scored in the Super Six competition were achieved by UF, which explains how the team came back from an unexpected early deficit.

Florida on Saturday was competing in its seventh NCAA Super Six in the last eight seasons. Though Sloan already captured the 2013 NCAA Championship in the all-around, posting the best score in Friday’s competition, she and her teammates will go for individual event titles on Sunday.

Eleven different events will be performed by six Gators as the team hopes to close the season with even more hardware. On this night, however, the focus is on the championship trophy that Florida is bringing back to Gainesville, FL.

The Gators’ national-title winning performance will air on Tuesday, April 30 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU and again on Wednesday, May 1 at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

* OGGOA contributors Corey Mitleider (@cormit123) and Scott Barr (@sbarruf) can be reached on Twitter. Feel free to leave comments and questions below.

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12 Responses to “History is made as Florida Gators gymnastics rallies to win program’s first NCAA Championship”

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    I was watching today with high expectations and stunned at how the first rotation ended. I don’t know what they were saying during the first bye, but smoething really clicked. I actually turned it off and just looked at scores for the next hour and i saw them blow away the floor and get back in it. What a comeback. Coming back from .5+ down after 1 rotation to win by .2 in gymnastics is almost impossible. I can’t even begin to find a comparable comeback in some other sport, this would be virtually unheard of, especially in this sport.

    WTG Ladies!

    • W says:

      Saw an Alabama fan/writer compare it to Auburn’s Iron Bowl comeback against the Tide a few years ago. Thought that was accurate enough. So impressive tonight by the ladies.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        i would put it even past that, something along the lines of LSU comeback down 23 points in the 2nd half against Kentucky basketball about 10-15 yrs ago. It is that hard to make up that much ground in this sport.

        Adam, I know I replied before you had fully detailed story, hope I didn’t take away your thunder. Was watching the extra innings game at Mizzou, double header against Longwood, and this simultaneously. at the large lead against longwood, i shut that down to focus on the other 2, really surprised Longwood got another 3 runs, not sure what happened there, will wait for your report.

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    i don’t believe they trailed after 5 rotations, after the 4th rotation, before their 2nd bye, gators and bama were tied, it was first of each in final rotation that put UF 0.025 behind until bama blew the beam and UF did another incredible rotation, even with 1 bad result that got dropped, put extra pressure on the rest to be able to drop that result. it was 149.10 or so, don’t remember exactly

    • The story is correct. Florida trailed 148.125-148.100 heading into the sixth rotation.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        ah, 148.1, not 149.1, but at the time the scores showed bama and UF tied after the rotation, then showed them picking up after first of each in final. Not really important, just what they showed, i was watching live on espn3 and watching the scores at the same time, maybe they were incorrect in their scoring they posted, because I was really excited going into final rotation where they were tied and it looked like no one could catch up, was a question of whether UF could win first or UA would win 3rd in a row, and just being even was like a whole new ballgame..

        • Florida and Alabama were tied for a split second, when the Tide only had five of their six gymnasts having completed whatever their fifth-rotation event was. But the sixth gymnast scored better, which changed the event total and gave them the 0.025 lead heading into the final event. Then in the sixth rotation, after the first gymnast for each team went, Alabama’s lead actually went up to 0.050 for a split second.

          • Ken (CA) says:

            I must have been looking at just the wrong time, but either way, amazing that they had 1 session to go and were actually in contention after the disaster on the beam, then acually were able to win it going away in the final 3 sessions. Simply amazing heart they had tonight, and would not be denied.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    the great news is, lots of underclassmen were involved, should continue to have great results as long as Coach Rhonda keeps up the great recruiting she has done in last few years. The lacrosse blowout was amazing, and hope that all the great recruiting there keeps us at a high level as well, sounds like the NC is ours to lose there as well, women’s capital cup should be in our pocket again. The Men’s capital cup not sure we will even be in top 10, may lose our first. Spring men’s sports not been doing so well.

    Women’s tennis and lacrosse should have high finishes if not championships, men’s events like track not done as well this year. And Golf has truly sucked for both this weekend. will be interesting to see if they can finish so badly in SEC championships and still make it to regionals..

  4. Michael Jones says:

    Congratulations UF gymnastics team!!! And major kudos to Jeremy Foley for achieving and sustaining a standard of excellence across the board in UF athletics that has to be approaching legendary status.

    GO GATORS!!!

  5. SB says:

    Great win by the Gators. Still shocked we came back from a sub 49 to start, just incredible. Stellar coverage on OnlyGators.

  6. RML says:

    The guys who take time to write articles on Gators gymnastics are true die hards. I didn’t even know we had a gymnastics team.

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