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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Kytra Hunter doesn’t care about awards.

As an all-around competitor last Friday, she posted a season-best 39.675, leading UF to a 197.525-196.825 victory against No. 3 Georgia.

For her performance, Hunter, a freshman, earned SEC Gymnast of the Week honors for the first time in her collegiate career. Still, she said she would rather push the accolade to the side and zero in on the next task at hand -- defeating Nebraska.

“It’s a great honor, but I’m not really focused on that,” Hunter said. “I’m not the type to look at my scores.”

When No. 1 Florida (9-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) takes on No. 6 Nebraska (10-1, 3-0 Big Ten) at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Sunday at 3 p.m., 80 percent of UF’s roster – including Hunter – will experience competing in Lincoln for the first time.

The event will also serve as a double dual meet. While both women’s squads face off, Nebraska’s men’s team will compete against Arizona State at the same time.   

“It’s going to be a great environment for our girls and a great experience because we’re going to be competing in the afternoon,” coach Rhonda Faehn said.

“Also, it’ll be again kind of a three-ring circus. It’ll be great for our athletes to be in that type of situation to work on their focus.”

Surprisingly, Hunter has been more dominant on the road this season.

In her collegiate debut at North Carolina State on Jan. 6, she posted a 39.30 to win the all-around title. She has also recorded impressive all-around totals at Kentucky (39.475) and Alabama (39.45) this year.

“I genuinely feel and have no doubt that she is the best freshman within our own conference and one of the best freshmen in the country,” Faehn said.

To hang with an elite Cornhuskers squad on Sunday, the Gators will need Hunter to step up in a similar way.

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Last season, Florida routed Nebraska 196.925-194.950 in its season opener, but the Cornhuskers outperformed the Gators in the postseason. Nebraska placed second in NCAA Championship semifinal and moved on to the Super Six; UF came in fourth and fell short of advancing by .75 points.  

Hunter, though, is not looking at what happened last year between both teams.

With her body feeling 100 percent, she is more confident than ever in herself heading into Sunday.  

“I was satisfied with last weekend,” Hunter said.  “But I’m ready to have a better meet against Nebraska.”

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