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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Earlier this week, Kytra Hunter said she wasn’t

thinking about competing against a Southeastern Conference foe like

Kentucky, but rather performing her routines to the best of her

ability.

The freshman lived up to her word, doing just that in

grand fashion Friday night. 

Recording a career-high all-around total of 39.475,

Hunter claimed at least a share of four of the meet’s five event

titles as No. 8 Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC) easily took care of Kentucky

(2-3, 0-2 SEC) 196.275-194.075 at the Memorial Coliseum in

Lexington, Ky.

Hunter is the first UF gymnast to debut with three

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consecutive all-around titles since junior Ashanée Dickerson

accomplished that feat back in 2010. The beam and vault victories

are firsts for Hunter.

“It was exciting,” Hunter said. “I was a lot calmer

than I have been in my first two meets. It just felt great to go

out there and win an all-around title.” 

Coach Rhonda Faehn said she was thrilled with

Hunter’s performance Friday night. 

“She’s a very strong mental competitor,” Faehn said.

“She was able to utilize and rely on her past experiences and stay

focused tonight." 

On Wednesday, Faehn said Hunter would sit out floor

exercise against the Wildcats. But when Rachel Spicer, who is

nursing a sore calf, was ruled a no-go on floor, Hunter was ready

to step in. 

“(We made the decision) in the 30-second touch,”

Faehn said jokingly. 

“I switched it right before we were ready to go …

Kytra said she could go and she did an awesome job.” 

Dickerson and Marissa King, also competing in

all-around, had solid showings for the Gators, each scoring

39.250.

King, a junior, shared the uneven bars (9.875) and

floor (9.85) titles with Hunter and Dickerson, respectively. 

In her season debut and return from an ankle injury,

sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto recorded a 9.775 on bars. 

“She took a step on the landing, and I think that was

expected knowing that was her first time she was going to do her

dismount out there in a routine with a hard landing,” Faehn

said. 

“She just has to get used to it again and feel

comfortable and confident in the strength of her ankles. I feel

that she’s going to get that stuck landing very soon.”

After the first of four rotations, the Gators only

led the Wildcats by 0.4 points. 

Halfway through the meet, that lead more than

tripled. 

Faehn said she was surprised with some of the judges’

scores, since she believed they were not representative of how well

UF performed. 

“I don’t think the scores reflect how well they did

do,” she said. “But what I loved was that the athletes didn’t let

it affect them.”

For the night, Florida took the top three spots in

each of the five event titles. 

“I think they made some really nice improvements from

the last two competitions,” Faehn said. 

“I was just really pleased with the way they stayed

aggressive and didn’t let anything they can’t control affect their

mindsets.”

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