Florida got another 10.0 on Friday night in its dual meet against Oklahoma, with Kytra Hunter becoming the first Gators gymnast in history to post two 10.0s on the floor exercise, and the first to notch a perfect score in consecutive performances since 1998. The Gators got a relatively stress-free win over No. 1 Oklahoma, too, taking down the Sooners by a 197.875-197.225 count and recording the first win over a No. 1-ranked team in a dual meet in school history.
And yet it never felt nearly as charged in the O'Connell Center as it did last week for the Gators' first home meet of the year, in which they electrified the over 10,000 fans in attendance with one of the best floor exercise rotations in collegiate gymnastics history that keyed a comeback victory over Georgia. This wasn't Florida in mind-blowing form, just the Gators executing routine after routine with few peaks and fewer valleys, taking the lead early and never letting their chalky grip slip.
Florida can be both of those teams, and maybe at once. Given that potential, everyone else should be very, very afraid of these Gators.
Hunter's 10.0 was the highlight of the night, and the best routine of the night...
...but it couldn't get her the all-around win: Bridget Sloan took that, posting a 39.750 that bests the 39.700 she and Hunter put up last week as the nation's best all-around score this year. Sloan placed first in the balance beam and uneven bars, tied Hunter for the win on vault, and came in second to Hunter on floor exercise, posting scores of 9.900 or better on every apparatus.
But beyond Sloan and Hunter, who combined for six 9.9+ scores, Florida put up just two: Claire Boyce's collegiate-best 9.900 on the balance beam and Bridgette Caquatto's 9.925 on the floor. A week after tallying an incredible 12 9.9+ scores, that should have been worrisome — except Florida brought up its floor as its ceiling was lowered, posting no score worse than a 9.750 all night and counting no score worse than a 9.850 in any rotation. (Teams count the five best scores from their six competitors on each apparatus.) A 49.400 on any one apparatus is considered an excellent score for a rotation; Florida scored at least that number on all four rotations.
That made it easy for the Gators to put together their 197.875, the second-best score in the nation this year behind their own 198.050 from last week, and dust a superb Oklahoma team that, even in defeat, posted a better score than the average total of every team in the nation other than Florida and Oklahoma. Florida will move to No. 1 in the next rankings release, having upped its scoring average — the basis for rankings in collegiate gymnastics — to 197.413. Oklahoma will fall ... all the way to No. 2.
Florida has wins over top-10 UCLA and top-15 Auburn on the road, and wins over top-seven Georgia and top-two Oklahoma at home. It has persevered through struggles and slow starts, come back from deficits, posted an unbelievable series of routines in the apparatus it will dominate all year, and coasted to a big win over the nation's No. 1 team with mechanical excellence.
Oh, and the 2014 season is a month old. For this Florida gymnastics team, this year may be more fun than it was in their — and our — wildest dreams.
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