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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
<p>Bridget Sloan performs on the uneven bars during UF’s 198.125 - 197.625 win over LSU during on Feb. 21. Sloan was named the 2014 NCAA uneven bars champion during individual competition Sunday.</p>

Bridget Sloan performs on the uneven bars during UF’s 198.125 - 197.625 win over LSU during on Feb. 21. Sloan was named the 2014 NCAA uneven bars champion during individual competition Sunday.

After No. 1 Florida earned a share of its second-straight national title on Saturday, Bridget Sloan won a title of her own.

The sophomore All-American became the 2014 NCAA uneven bars champion after posting a 9.9375 in the individual events finals in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on Sunday.

The victory marked Sloan’s third individual national title — the most by a Florida gymnast — after she claimed the balance beam (9.900) and all-around (39.600) titles in 2013. UF now has an individual event winner in each of the past four seasons.

With the win on Sunday, Sloan posted meet-high or meet-high-tying scores on the bars eight different times this season.

In addition to Sloan’s title on bars, the Pittsboro, Ind., native also tied for the sixth-best score on vault with a 9.9167.

The sophomore’s outing came one day after Florida tied Oklahoma in the national championship with a score of 198.175 — the highest recorded score since the championship began in 1982.

Sloan was a key factor for the Gators in the Super Six, with all four of her routines earning scores of at least 9.900 on Saturday. But the all-arounder struggled in the postseason meets heading up to the national championship.

After winning at least a share of nine-straight all-around titles, the beam got the best of Sloan late when it mattered most.

The sophomore fell on beam during both the University Park Regional on April 5 and the semifinals on Friday, resulting in respective scores of 9.225 and 9.200 — her two lowest totals of the season.

But Sloan rebounded on beam in the championship meet — scoring a 9.950 on the apparatus Saturday to tie for the meet-high with Nebraska’s Emily Wong.

“Coming in (Saturday) personally, I had a lot of proving to do,” Sloan said in a postgame interview Saturday. “I didn’t really have that great of a night (in the semifinals), so … my team had so much trust in me and I kind of lost that. And when I got up there on the equipment, it wasn’t ‘Oh, man, am I going to make this?’ It was ‘I’m going to hit this routine, not just for myself, but for my team.’”

Seniors Mackenzie Caquatto and Alaina Johnson also competed on bars and beam during the individual events on Sunday.

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Caquatto finished fourth on bars — a career-high finish in individual finals — after posting a 9.8875 score.

The Naperville, Ill., native also placed 12th on the balance beam with a score of 9.8375.

In her career, Caquatto competed in the individual events in each of the past three years, advancing to the finals for bars in 2012, 2013 and 2014 while competing on beam in each of the last two years.

Johnson — who took the uneven bars title last season — had to settle for a sixth-place finish in the event on Sunday with a 9.850 total. The Tyler, Texas, senior also finished tied for 10th place on the balance beam with a 9.850 score.

The senior all-arounder reached the individual event finals in each of her four years at UF, winning the uneven bars event in 2013 with a 9.9125 final score.

Follow Jordan McPherson on Twitter @J_McPherson1126

Bridget Sloan performs on the uneven bars during UF’s 198.125 - 197.625 win over LSU during on Feb. 21. Sloan was named the 2014 NCAA uneven bars champion during individual competition Sunday.

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