Florida Gators gymnastics wins share of second-straight NCAA National Championship

By Jordan McPherson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After trailing for most of the Super Six for the second-straight year, it came down to sophomore Bridgette Caquatto pulling off a miracle for No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics, which forced a late tie and split the 2014 NCAA Championship on Saturday night in Birmingham, AL.

UF’s final competitor in the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, Caquatto needed to score a 9.95 on floor if the Gators wanted to earn a share of the national title with the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners.

And she delivered, matching her career-high mark for the third time this season as Florida locked up with Oklahoma for the lead just one year after winning the title for the first time in program history.

“It was absolutely incredible,” Gators head coach Rhonda Faehn said in a post-meet interview. “Our athletes, I mean, they knew what was on the line, and they just competed their hearts out.”

Florida and Oklahoma both posted a 198.175 — the highest score in Super Six history — and subsequently split the title after a long delay as judges attempted to ensure there was no method by which to break the tie. By tying with the Gators, the Sooners became just the sixth program to finish in the top spot. LSU (197.600) finished in third and Alabama (fourth, 197.550), Georgia (fifth, 197.050) and Nebraska (sixth, 196.500) rounded out the field.

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Florida gymnastics looking good through Feb.

By Corey Mitleider and Scott Barr – OGGOA Contributors

Two months of meets are in the books, and Florida Gators (7-1, 6-1 SEC) gymnastics sits comfortably ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Oklahoma after picking up recent victories over perennial powers Alabama (No. 4) and Georgia (No. 7). An undefeated month with four Southeastern Conference victories sets up Florida for a strong close to the regular season. The Gators have a pair of meets remaining against Minnesota (No. 14) in Gainesville, FL for Senior Day on March 1 and at Utah (No. 8) on March 16.

GYMNAST OF THE MONTH

Freshman Bridget Sloan
Scoring: all-around (39.563), second in NCAA on uneven bars (9.915 – RQS), T-seventh in vault (9.900)
Highlights: 9.9 or above in 10 of 15 events including 9.975 on bars vs. Kentucky
Awards: 10 titles (three all-around, one vault, four bars, two balance beam)

Sloan, who was named SEC Gymnast of the Week (once) and SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week (twice) during the month, talked about her experience in enemy territory after winning the all-around and beating Georgia in its arena. “Definitely a different experience and a learning experience. Coming into a hostile environment like this, I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “There was a little bit of barking going on, but I think that is what fueled us. We definitely fed off of it and I think that is why we had such a great road team score.”

ROUTINE OF THE MONTH

Senior Ashanée Dickerson scored a near-perfect 9.975 on her floor exercise routine to cap Florida’s victory over defending national champion Alabama in Gainesville on Feb. 8. The score was a career-best for Dickerson on floor exercise and head coach Rhonda Faehn took it a step further saying, “That was the best routine of her four years here, it really was. That was amazing.”

Check out national rankings and more on Florida gymnastics…after the break!
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Big January propels Florida gymnastics to No. 1

By Corey Mitleider and Scott Barr – OGGOA Contributors

Only one month into the 2013 collegiate gymnastics campaign, the Florida Gators (4-1, 3-1 SEC) have already ascended to the No. 1 ranking as they head into the biggest meet of the young season on Friday. Florida will host 2012 national champion Alabama, which took the crown last season after edging UF by the slimmest of margins.

GYMNAST OF THE MONTH

Sophomore Kytra Hunter
Scoring: First in NCAA all-around (39.688), second on uneven bars (9.900), T-second on floor exercise (9.917), third in vault (9.933)
Highlights: 9.975 on vault vs. Auburn; 9.900+ on all four events at LSU, vs. Auburn
Awards: Nine titles (two all-around, two vault, two bars, two floor, one balance beam)

Hunter was particularly motivated during the Link to Pink meet against Auburn on Jan 25 as she lost her grandmother to breast cancer in 2005. “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.”

ROUTINE OF THE MONTH

Junior Mackenzie Caquatto scored an elusive perfect 10.0 from the judges on her uneven bars routine during Florida’s victory over Missouri on Jan. 18. She is the fifth Gators gymnast to earn the perfect mark on bars and the first since 2009. Caquatto was excited to help Florida achieve the fifth-highest bars team total in school history (49.60). “When I stuck the dismount, I knew it was one of the best routines I did and was happy I could contribute to the team,” she said. “It was a good moment and I will never forget it.”

Check out national rankings and more on Florida gymnastics…after the break!
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