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Monday, May 27, 2024

The Gators hit the road for the first time all season, and the unfamiliar mats served for just another victory.

Florida experienced more of the same as the squad traveled to Baton Rouge, La., and swept LSU on Friday, posting its third consecutive win to open the season. The 196.425 to 194.000 victory was the first road meet of the season for the top-ranked Gators.

Without the usual home atmosphere of the O’Connell Center, the team was greeted in a manner they hadn’t experienced this season.

“It was a lot different,” sophomore Ashanée Dickerson said. “We had the crowd booing us when we came out.”

Unshaken, Dickerson snagged her 10th career all-around title with her performance.

“Unbelievable,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “Phenomenal. She just continues to shine. She shows everybody that she’s the real deal.”

Dickerson posted a 9.800 on uneven parallel bars, a 9.900 on vault, a 9.950 on floor exercise and a 9.825 on balance beam. She became the first Gators gymnast to sweep a meet’s five event titles since Chrissy Van Fleet did so in 2000.

“It was amazing,” Dickerson said. “I just went out there and did what I did every day.”

On floor routine, fellow sophomore Marissa King edged just behind Dickerson, scoring a 9.875 for her performance — the second-highest score for both teams in the event.

“I had a great floor routine tonight,” King said. “Every time I do, I just get better and better.”

All-arounder Alaina Johnson, the two-time SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week, returned to four-event action against the Tigers after sitting out on balance beam last week due to an injured toe.

In her return to beam, she pulled out a 9.775.

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Freshman Mackenzie Caquatto also competed in an additional event as a fresh addition to the vault roster. She has only performed in bars and beam in her college career up until Friday’s meet. Though Caquatto earned an impressive 9.850 on vault, her performance on bars fell short at a 9.400.

“She had an absolute perfect routine, but she went over,” Faehn said. “She was trying so hard for perfection. It’s a mistake that she’s very upset about.”

Although Faehn said the team did fabulous in some areas, such as Dickerson’s title and King’s floor routine, overall the team didn’t reach its full potential. She said Florida’s biggest struggle was nailing stuck landings — something the team has been successful in its first two meets of the season. 

“I think we did decent,” Faehn said. “Nowhere near our capabilities. It’s going to be a great learning experience.”

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