The odds were all lined up in favor of the Florida gymnastics team. After coming off a first-meet win that featured a record-breaking 39.575 all-around score from junior Alicia Boren, the Gators were finally back at home. And for the first time ever, they were performing in front of a sold-out O’Connell Center.
But unfortunately for UF, things didn’t go its way.
Senior Rachel Slocum fell short on her first attempt at vault, earning an 8.550. Shortly after, freshman Megan Skaggs fell on the uneven bars, finishing second to last in the event. At the Friday night’s conclusion, No. 7 Florida (1-1, 0-1 SEC) fell to No. 1 LSU (2-0, 2-0 SEC) by a margin of 0.125.
“This Gator team likes to keep it interesting,” coach Jenny Rowland said.
Even in its defeat, the team saw some high points on Friday night. Senior Alex McMurtry scored highest in vault (9.925) and sophomore Rachel Gowey ranked first on beam (9.950). Included in this list of accomplishments was senior Kennedy Baker, who returned from sitting out against West Virginia with an energetic floor routine that earned her second in the event.
“Obviously we wanted to beat LSU,” Baker said. “We had mistakes, but everyone had each other’s back, and I think that was really important for this meet.”
Teamwork was the theme against the Tigers, and Rowland applauded her team for keeping its head high and encouraging each other through some of the meets more difficult moments.
“This team was close throughout the entire competition,” Rowland said. “I saw them arm in arm throughout the meet.”
As Florida heads further into the season, it will count on its younger members to have standout performances. One change to the team this year can be seen in the rise of its freshmen, a group that features SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week Jazmyn Foberg.
“These freshmen came in ready to fight, determined and nothing is going to stand in their way,” Rowland said.
The Gators do not see the meet against LSU as a setback. Instead, they are focused on the comradery and spirit of the team as they continue SEC competition into next Friday’s match against No. 6 Kentucky.
“You would have thought it was March or April with the team we had out there,” McMurtry said. “We just had so much energy.”