JACKSONVILLE - At the end of the first rotation, LSU’s Ashleigh Gnat sprinted towards the vault and perfection. With her yurchenko double full, the senior from Lake Mary, Florida notched her third perfect 10 of the season on the apparatus, putting the Tigers up .20 over the Gators.
Through the next three rotations, Florida played catch up.
But they wouldn't have enough repeat as SEC Champions.
Gnat led LSU to the 2017 SEC Championship title over her home state Gators, 198.025-197.825. It’s the Tigers’ first conference title since 1981, after winning their first regular season SEC title two weeks ago.
Alabama and Georgia rounded out the top four, respectively.
“Being able to get a 10 is such an honor for us and for our team,” Gnat said. “However, it was a great way to set off a good meet.”
Despite the loss, Florida posted its highest road score of the season after struggling away from home during the regular season.
Juniors Alex McMurtry and Kennedy Baker claimed the top two all-around spots, which is the fifth time in the last six years that a Gator has won the SEC all-round.
It also was McMurtry’s first collegiate all-around title.
“This is the first meet I have hit four events,” McMurtry said. “Really excited that it was today at SECs and that I could take the title.”
Baker took advantage of being back in the all-around lineup after weeks of limited competition due to injury with a collegiate-best of 9.925 on beam.
The Florida crowd chanted for a 10 after her near flawless routine on floor, which earned her a 9.95 and a share of the floor title with McMurtry.
“It felt so good,” Baker said. “It’s so frustrating standing there and watching them and not being able to contribute. So being able to go out there and compete was such an amazing feeling.”
A mix-up during the award ceremony mistakenly left freshman Amelia Hundley and Rachel Gowey off the All-SEC Freshman team, when both should have been announced as a part of it.
Hundley was also named to the All-SEC team, and junior Grace McLaughlin was named to the SEC Community Team for the second year in a row.
Despite leaving Jacksonville without a first-place trophy, the Gators have momentum heading into the NCAA Gainesville Regional that they host in two weeks.
“Second-place, it makes you hungry, and I like that,” UF head coach Jenny Rowland said. “It fuels the fire.”