Rachel Slocum spit into her hands, once, twice, five times. She prepared her stance and sprinted toward the mat, gaining speed until she stopped just short of it. Among encouraging cheers from her teammates, Slocum positioned herself back to the start of the stretch for her second attempt and finished her vault routine with a score of 8.550.
The No. 7 Gators fell to No. 1 LSU 197.250-197.125 in a sold-out O'Connell Center, the first sellout in program history. Florida led the Tigers by .05 at the end of the first rotation, but was unable to overcome LSU in the next three rounds.
“I’m still trying to mull that over in my brain,” Slocum said. “I think it was just a counting issue in my steps.”
Even with what coach Jenny Rowland described as a “small hiccup” for Slocum, UF did not let the slip take over the energy and excitement it felt from its home crowd.
“During the routine I'm really honing in on hearing all of their voices,” junior Alicia Boren said. “I can hear each and every one of them.”
Boren placed second in all-around with a score of 39.450. Both senior Alex McMurtry and sophomore Rachel Gowey posted top scores on bars and on beam, respectively. McMurtry also led the Gators on vault, where her score of 9.900 put her in a three-way tie for second.
Though she dominated in each event, McMurtry was more concerned with how the team did as a whole.
“It was a bittersweet ending when we looked at the final score but I just can’t get over how proud of the team I am,” McMurtry said
The match also saw the return of senior Kennedy Baker, who dropped out of bars in the Gators opening meet against West Virginia. Her floor routine Friday night proved Baker hadn’t missed a step. She placed second for the event with a score of 9.925.
“I was just lit,” Baker said. “Seeing my teammates fall when I whipped them was just icing on the cake."
Rowland said she wasn't focused on the team’s loss, but rather its improvement and UF’s ending total, which was 1.225 points higher than its last match against the Mountaineers.
“It really doesn't have to do with gymnastics,” Rowland said. “Most importantly, it’s working together as a team. We were missing that first meet up, the energy was really low. They brought the energy this meet.”