What Florida accomplished on Saturday evening had not been done in nearly 21 years.
The Gators traveled to Athens, Ga., with their No. 1 ranking and became the first team since 1992 to top the Bulldogs in Stegeman Coliseum.
No. 1 Florida (5-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) overcame an early deficit against No. 9 Georgia (5-4-1, 3-0-1 SEC) by the score of 197.300-197.175 in front of 9,971 to increase its winning streak to five.
Florida appeared unable to overcome Georgia’s 49.550 vault mark early, but climbed out of the hole to string together scores of 49.15 and 49.30 on floor and balance beam to capture its second road win of 2013.
Coach Rhonda Faehn’s uneven bars rotation produced its lowest showing since posting a 49.250 against LSU on Jan. 11 in Baton Rouge.
Faehn was impressed with the resolve of her team.
“What I loved is that they did not buckle after the opening two events where we felt we did not perform as we are capable of,” Faehn said.
Although no Gator captured an individual event title, Florida was able to piece together its fourth highest total of the season. Freshman Bridget Sloan competed in her fourth consecutive all-around and earned her third title with the score of 39.60.
Last week, Sloan became of the only freshman in 2013 to claim the SEC Gymnast of the Week honor. She pinned scores of 9.925 and 9.95 on vault and bars, respectively.
“There was a little bit of barking going on, but I think that is what fueled us,” Bridget Sloan said. “We definitely fed off of it and I think that is why we had such a great road team score.”
Three of Florida’s next six dual meets will take place away or in a neutral gym as it nears the end of its season. With another road victory under its belt, Faehn is confident in the talents of her team.
“They are grasping all the intangibles now — the heart, the fight, the passion,” Faehn said. “The fight was most important tonight. I was proud of them.”
Freshman Bridget Sloan performs her beam routine in Florida’s 197.65-196.025 win against Auburn on Jan. 25 at home.