Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Friday, April 19, 2024

Some things truly are better late than never, and that includes a first road win.

No. 9 UF (4-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) beat Michigan State on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., 196.85 to 194.775.

It was the Gators' highest score this season, surpassing the 196.5 mark set in their first two meets.

Maybe more important than the score in this case was that the win prevented a possibly mind-crushing, psyche-downing 0-3 record on the road, with the remaining road meets against two current top-five teams in Georgia on Feb. 28 and Utah on March 13 to end the regular season.

"This was huge for us," senior Corey Hartung said. "We talked about, after the meet, how bad we needed this. We scored almost a 197 with still a lot of mistakes."

The Gators lost their first two road meets of the season, both to SEC teams, while struggling to trim mistakes and dealing with constantly morphing lineups.

It was the same team that took on the Spartans (5-9) but with a revamped attitude.

"The only way to go from here is up," Hartung said. "In order to go up, we just had to compete like we had nothing to lose."

That nothing-to-lose approach translated into higher scores, improved team chemistry and heightened confidence.

"They were extremely close out there on the competition floor as a group, and we did a much better job of the chemistry with the athletes and the overall attitude," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said.

The Gators bettered Michigan State on every event - even balance beam, which has been the team's Achilles' heel this season.

Heading into the meet, the team ranked lower on beam (22nd in the country) than on any other event.

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

That ranking will surely go up. Led by Hartung, whose beam routine earned a 9.9 for the third meet in a row, UF scored a 49.175 on beam, the team's best score since the first meet of the season.

Hartung also finished with the all-around title, turning in a 39.45.

Nipping at her heels was teammate Maranda Smith. In just her second career all-around performance, the junior scored a 39.35.

"I'm not completely used to competing beam," Smith said. "I was a little shaky, but looking back at it, it's amazing to myself that I'm actually doing all-around."

Coming into the meet, Faehn said the team needed to turn its season around. While the performance wasn't a complete 180-degree spin, she said this meet indicated a step in the right direction.

"There were still little mistakes here and there, but we didn't allow them to affect the overall goal or the energy of the group," Faehn said.

The team might have broken the 197 barrier, but missed landings on vault hindered the attempt. Vault was statistically the team's worst event against the Spartans. The Gators scored a 49.125, tying their lowest season score.

Faehn graded the overall performance at a "B-plus."

"We're always wanting, of course, the 'A-plus,'" she said.

"We can score over a 197, it doesn't matter if we're at home or on the road, or whatever," Faehn said. "We can score that if we put together a good competition, not even close to being a perfect competition."

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.