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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Gators had a good meet. The Bulldogs had an exceptional one.

UF set a new season-best score. Georgia set season highs on all four apparatuses.

Add in a perfect 10 for the Bulldogs (10-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference), and you have the recipe for No. 1 Georgia's 198.2 to 196.65 win against No. 7 UF in Athens, Ga., on Saturday.

The Bulldogs' score is the highest for any school this season.

"I feel like we went out and had a successful meet," Melanie Sinclair said. "Considering we had to count a fall, I think we did really, really well tonight."

As if having Georgia firing on all cylinders wasn't enough, UF (5-3, 3-3 SEC) again had to battle injuries with senior Corey Hartung taken out of the floor exercise and vault lineups because of a strained muscle in her left calf.

"It was an extremely difficult situation of being short-handed," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. "She's an All-American every time on floor, so yeah, we know that hurts us."

The Gators started the afternoon with a 49.275 on uneven bars. They were down from the first event, as Georgia notched its first of four season bests on vault, a 49.425.

The Gators followed with a 48.625 on vault, forced to count a fall suffered by Courtney Gladys because the team was only five deep with Hartung scratched off the vault lineup.

Faced with Hartung's absence again, the Gators responded by tying their season best on floor with a 49.45, including a 9.8 from Gladys.

Amanda Castillo returned to the competitive floor lineup for the first time this season. Castillo has been hampered by ankle bursitis but exhibitioned floor Feb. 20 against Alabama.

"Amanda's getting closer," Faehn said. "It was obvious tonight that she has that spark. That's the first step, and then getting her (routine's level of) difficulty back."

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Heading into the last event, Georgia capped off its win with a 10 from Courtney Kupets to anchor the floor lineup. UF closed out on a high point as well, setting a season-best performance on beam, scoring a 49.3.

Faehn was extremely proud of Castillo for nailing her beam routine in light of Kupets' perfect 10 that brought more than 10,000 Georgia fans to their feet.

Sinclair shined, bumping up her season-high all-around total to 39.575. Castillo also returned to the all-around category with her performance on floor. She finished fourth with a 39.425.

The loss at Georgia ended UF's SEC play until the league championships begin on March 21 and also illuminated the desperate need for the Gators to get healthy.

"The key for us is we have to get athletes healthy," Faehn said. "Or at least healthy as they can be for us to field a lineup. We just gotta get people healthy."

Before the SEC Championship, the Gators will face one more top-five school when they travel to take on Utah on March 13.

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