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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Energized by the loud and busy atmosphere of their

first quad meet at home since 2006, the Gators made their night of

season highs a memorable one.

In the process, they easily cruised past the

top-ranked team in the country.

Scoring a season- and national-best 197.775, No. 8

Florida (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) knocked off No. 1

Arkansas (8-1, 2-1 SEC), No. 24 Maryland (4-4) and Bridgeport (2-4)

in front on an O’Connell Center crowd of 6,198 on Friday night.

The Gators' team score of 197.775 is the

fifth-highest total in school history.

The Razorbacks placed second overall with a team

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total of 196.700, while the Terrapins (193.075) and Purple Knights

(192.975) came in third and fourth, respectively. 

UF won a share of three of the meet’s four event

titles and junior Ashanée Dickerson picked up the all-around

victory with a 39.60, her best total of the year and just a tenth

off her career high. 

“This was a great confidence booster for our team,”

coach Rhonda Faehn said. “They really jelled very well. The

chemistry and the energy were phenomenal.”

With the upset against Arkansas, the Gators avenged

two 2011 losses to the Razorbacks - a 196.70-196.10 regular-season

defeat and a 196.55-196.425 loss in the NCAA North Central

Regional. 

The win is also Florida’s first against a top-ranked

team in the O’Connell Center since winning the 1989 SEC title

against then-No. 1 Alabama.

But Faehn liked how Florida didn’t buy into the hype

and was only concerned with its own performances.

“I was really happy with how our athletes didn’t

focus on [Arkansas] or anybody else,” she said. “We never once

spoke about what happened last year and even coming here and trying

to upset them because that’s nothing we can control.” 

In addition to picking up the all-around win,

Dickerson shared the floor exercise title with freshman Kytra

Hunter after both tallied a 9.95.

“[The victory] just showed everyone how hard we work

every day in the gym and how we try to perfect our landings and get

the most out of every routine,” Dickerson said.

Winning her third balance beam title in four meets

this season, junior Marissa King scored a career-best 9.95 on

beam.

In only her second appearance this season, sophomore

Mackenzie Caquatto recorded a 9.95 on uneven bars to claim her

first bars title of the year. 

“I was super proud of [Caquatto] coming in and

winning bars after such adversity, with the double ankle sprain,”

Faehn said. “I know she’s in so much pain, but she still went for

that stick. For her to really fight and get it and do as well as

she did was wonderful and huge for the team.”

Sophomore Alaina Johnson placed second as an

all-around competitor with a total of 39.575. 

The only event title UF didn’t pick up was vault,

which Arkansas’ Katherine Grable snagged with a 9.9.

The Gators, who trailed Arkansas after the opening

rotation, used a dominant 49.625-performance on bars, which

featured five Gators with scores of 9.9 or above, to build a 0.450

cushion over the Razorbacks midway through the meet.

From that point on, no team jumped Florida in the

standings.

“We heard that Arkansas had been No. 1 this week, but

we didn’t let that affect us,” King said. “We just came expecting

to do our job and do the routines we’ve been working in practice.

That’s what we did [Friday night], and with a great result, too. It

just really put that cherry on top of the cake.”

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