Two weeks into the 2014 gymnastics season and Florida has already begun the uphill battle towards improvement. The Gators improved their record to 2-0 after a road win against Auburn on Friday night. An .850 margin allowed UF (197.075) to defeat Auburn (196.225).
“Much better, they competed more aggressively,” Coach Rhonda Faehn said in a phone call after the meet. “Especially, I feel they had more energy.”
UF’s score against Auburn was .425 higher than the 196.65 the team posted against UCLA on Jan. 11. With this improvement, UF could see a climb in the rankings after falling from No. 1 to a tie for fourth last week.
Florida’s improvements were not only seen at the team level; individuals such as senior Mackenzie Caquatto also made strides in the second meet of the year.
After receiving one of the worst scores in her college career against UCLA in floor (8.40), Caquatto turned around to win the balance beam (9.950) event against Auburn.
“She was thrilled. That’s what she’s really capable of doing, she just really lit up the floor,” Faehn said. “Last week was fluky… it was nice to see her rebound.”
Caquatto, who competed all-around at UCLA, competed in every event except floor against Auburn.
“She put in great routines we could have easily competed her,” Faehn said as to why Caquatto abstained from competing in floor. “We felt we maybe overwhelmed her in the first meet.”
Caquatto’s 9.925 on vault tied her collegiate best, which she set on Feb. 22, 2013 in a home meet against Kentucky. Faehn said her vault Friday was the best she has ever seen from Caquatto.
Sophomore Bridget Sloan also tied her vault collegiate best with a 9.950. Sloan also secured wins in both uneven bars (9.925) and all-around (39.700).
“Her performance tonight was on par with where she was at the national championship,” Faehn said.
Freshman Silvia Colussi-Pelaez competed for the first time with the Gators. Colussi-Pelaez exhibitioned floor (9.60) and uneven bars (9.125), where she took a fall, against UCLA. But she showed improvement with a 9.725 on floor in Auburn, Ala.
“She did well enough at UCLA,” Faehn said. “She trained really well so we wanted to give her the opportunity.”
Claire Boyce, Florida’s other freshman, competed for the second time in both balance beam and floor.
While her balance beam remained consistent with what she posted against UCLA (9.850), Boyce’s floor routine lost some spark between California and Alabama. A fall during her floor routine turned the 9.825 she scored against UCLA into a meet low of 9.125 on floor.
“That was an odd fall on floor, that was unusual for her and I’m sure she’s not happy with it,” Faehn said. “Falls can be positive because you have to learn from it.”
Follow Erica A. Hernandez on Twitter @EricaAlyssa