Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Monday, June 24, 2024

As Tiffany Murry began her floor exercise to lead the Gators off in their final event, teammates Amanda Castillo and Melanie Sinclair could be seen laughing and dancing to it.

The lighthearted attitude on the side of the floor carried over to the scores as UF put up its highest total of the season in the event (49.6).

With a .4-point lead heading into the last rotation, the No. 3 Gators' floor routines sealed their 197.7-196.875 victory against No. 2 Utah to end the regular season in the O'Connell Center on Friday.

"We always do so much better when we have fun," Sinclair said. "Gymnastics is a fun sport, and if you don't have that energy from within then it's hard to show it when you go out and compete."

The enjoyment began from the first event of the meet, when the Gators (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) jumped out front and didn't allow Utah to catch up.

UF's strong start immediately warded off any concerns of rust from its first bye week this season.

"Somebody had questioned whether we would be a little bit rusty, because some other teams had struggled with that," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. "Last year, we did the same thing and ended up winning SECs. I think our team does well with a little bit of rest, because its gives their minds a chance to relax and get back up to be fresh for the competition."

The Gators relied on five all-around competitors to carry the team to its second-highest team total of the season - the most UF has used in a meet since 1994.

Castillo led the way, taking the victory with a new collegiate best all-around score (39.625) while Sinclair also set a new personal best (39.575) to finish second. Ashley Reed completed the sweep of the all-around with her third-place finish.

The other two all-arounders, Corey Hartung and Nicola Willis, finished fourth and sixth, respectively.

For most of the season, UF has struggled with the small things, but on Friday, the Gators were able to hit almost all of their handstands and stuck most of their landings.

"Everything we have been doing in the gym, such as handstands and landings, definitely paid off today," Sinclair said. "We hit more landings then we have done all season, and the score showed it."

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Finishing the regular season on a high note was exactly how Faehn wanted to see her three seniors end their career, but she reminded them what was still left ahead.

"What a way for our seniors to go out of the O'Dome, and I told them that we still obviously have quite a bit of the season left - our most important part of the season," Faehn said. "I was just proud of the way they put it together tonight."

With the postseason starting with the SEC Championships on March 29 in Duluth, Ga., the Gators will use the next two weeks to continue to fine-tune their routines.

Faehn is unsure what her team can improve on from its meet against the Utes.

"I don't really know if we can do much better than what we did tonight," she said.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.