Florida knew coming into Saturday's Super Six that it needed a nearly perfect night to dethrone No. 1 Oklahoma. The Gators simply didn't get it.
That's the barest, most honest assessment of Florida's night, which was thoroughly solid but rarely spectacular, producing a 197.350 score that was both a tenth of a point worse than their semifinal-winning score on Friday and good only for fourth behind national champion Oklahoma (197.675), resilient and explosive LSU (197.450), and surprisingly potent Alabama (197.435).
Florida didn't post a rotation better than 49.3625 until a 49.450 on its closing bars rotation, and may have been slightly underscored on the balance beam and vault, where only Alicia Boren falling flat on her vault stuck out as a truly significant flaw. Oklahoma had three rotations of 49.425 or better, amd LSU had two, and that tells most of the story of how the Sooners won and the Tigers roared back from underwhelming performances on the uneven bars and beam to take second for the first time in program history.
And Alabama matched Florida on the vault, where the Gators received the same score as the Tide to some miffed confusion from at least one non-Florida fan, and outdid Florida by more than two tenths of a point on the beam, where Florida appeared to perform as well or slightly better than it did in Friday's semifinal, yet earned a team score more than a tenth of a point lower than it had a day prior.
Florida's individual gymnasts largely acquitted themselves well, though. Senior leader Bridget Sloan posted a 39.650 over her four performances, a score that topped all performers on the night and would have also won the all-around crown she captured on Friday, and sophomore Alex McMurtry wasn't far behind with a 39.5625 that was third among all competitors. Sophomore Kennedy Baker added a very respectable 39.3875 as an all-arounder despite having a stellar floor routine docked for what appeared to be a near step-out.
And senior Bridgette Caquatto nailed tricky bars and floor routines to compensate for an underwhelming vault, and senior Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto produced a fantastic score on her final bars routine, and Ericha Fassbender and Peyton Ernst contributed their solid floor and beam routines, and Boren had a fine floor performance on an otherwise rough night.
This was not a meltdown, though: It was just a team that didn't have the firepower to take on the sport's titans on their best nights without a similarly flawless set of performances being unable to make magic happen. No team counted a fall in this Super Six, and the top four teams all had a chance to win entering the final rotation, making it a dramatic and thrilling event — but Florida was, alas, at the rear of that top pack.
For Florida, three straight titles was enough to stake a place on the national stage in gymnastics. For the Gators who will remember this night, and the tears in their eyes, failing to grab a fourth on Saturday will be motivation for future Super Six showdowns.