Midway through her beam routine, Kennedy Baker wobbled.
A normally consistent performer, this time was different.
She landed her straddle half turn on her left ankle, trying to regain her balance for a moment before falling off completely.
It’s a skill that she does week in and week out, hitting it every time in her first four attempts before that.
It took her just a second to compose herself before she mounted the beam and finished off the routine, visibly disappointed.
The mistake was uncharacteristic for the junior All-American who has already won two all-arounds this season, but who has been battling illness the last two meets.
While the fall didn’t help the team score of 197.125, its second-lowest of the season, it did show that Florida could battle back when faced with challenging circumstances on the road.
“I think the team handled and reacted to that pressure quite well,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. “The team did their job.”
Fellow junior Alex McMurtry had her own struggles.
On her last tumbling pass, she ran out of steam, landing her double tuck on her ankles in her season floor and all-around debuts.
But Rowland is confident that McMurtry will move past the mistake.
“If anything, I think it’s just going to fuel the fire a little bit more,” Rowland said. “She’s one that does a very good job of being able to keep things in reality.”
As a team, the meet was not the sharpest of the season for the Gators, but the lack of team consistency did allow individual gymnasts to shine.
Freshman Sierra Alexander, who has now completed three straight times on vault after not competing the first four meets, led off the vault rotation with a 9.80 for the second meet in a row after earning a 9.725 in her first attempt at Alabama.
“Sierra is just improving daily,” Rowland said. “She has a spirit about her that is contagious, that’s energetic. She has the desire and the will to continue to get better.”
Sophomore Alicia Boren also nabbed her second straight all-around title, her third of the season, scoring a meet-high 9.950 on floor in the win over Arkansas.
The meet left the Gators with room to improve, a task they are not taking lightly.
“I think there was a bit of a missed opportunity in general,” Rowland said. “(I’m) looking forward to getting back to where we know this team is capable of being.”