Florida freshmen Bradley Beal and Kytra Hunter formed probably the Gators' finest power couple in the 2011-12 school year. After Hunter's superb performance on Friday night that helped Florida advance to the NCAA Championships' Super Six and gave her the NCAA All-Around Championship, the first ever by a Gator, we should probably start writing her name first in talking about the relationship.
Florida scored a 197.650 to finish second to Alabama's 197.675 in Session II of the NCAA Championships Semifinals on Friday night, and that tally, the best score by Florida at an NCAA Championships, helped the Gators make the cut for Saturday's Super Six along with Session II competitors 'Bama and Arkansas and Session I top three UCLA, Utah, and Stanford.
Hunter put together a collegiate-best 39.725 to win the all-around title, which is decided on Friday night during semifinal action. She outpaced Georgia's Kat Ding, who had a 39.650, by more than Ding beat Florida's Alaina Johnson and Alabama's Geralyn Stack-Eaton, who each scored 39.600 and tied for fourth, and became the ninth freshman ever to win the all-around title.
Hunter scored 9.975 on her vault, 9.95 on her floor exercise, and 9.90 on the balance beam and uneven bars, earning three first-team All-American honors (vault, floor exercise, all-around) and two second-team recognitions for the maximum five All-American recognitions; Johnson made two first teams (uneven bars, all-around) and three second teams, and both gymnasts joined Florida legend Kristen Guise as the only Gators to be so honored.
Four other Florida gymnasts earned the remainder of the Gators' 16 All-America honors: Ashanée Dickerson picked up three — first team on floor exercise, second on vault and all-around — for her performance in compiling a 39.500, the sixth-best individual all-around score on Friday night, and Mackenzie Caquatto (first team, bars), Marissa King (first team, vault), and Amy Ferguson (second team, floor) picked up one honor each. Hunter, Johnson, Dickerson, Caquatto, and King all qualified for the NCAA Individual Event Finals, to be held on Sunday.
But the scary thing about Florida's night is that the Gators could have been better. The Gators posted their best-ever score in NCAA competition on the vault, a 49.575 that led all 12 teams in the event on Friday, and tied for the best score on the uneven bars, 49.450, with UCLA, but two step-outs in floor exercise dinged the Gators ... who still put up a 49.275 that tied for second in the event on the night.
Florida takes aim at its first-ever NCAA Championship in gymnastics on Saturday in its 10th Super Six appearance, and these Gators look like they could very well break the four-team hegemony on NCAA titles in women's gymnastics. The action from Duluth begins at 4 p.m., and can be seen on ESPN3.