Perfection is hard to come by in gymnastics.
Every step, twist and turn is scrutinized, and during the early parts of a collegiate season, those nuances are far from refined.
It takes time to reach peak form.
Nevertheless, UF senior Kytra Hunter expects nothing short of excellence from herself each time she competes, even though the season is barely two weeks old.
“We gotta get the kinks out at the beginning of the season because we don’t want things like this to happen at the end of the season,” Hunter said after the co-No. 1 Florida’s (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) 197.200-195.650 victory over No. 19 Auburn (1-1, 0-1 SEC) on Friday night. “I’m pretty hard on myself, so I was bummed, and I let emotions out on the floor that I shouldn’t have.”
To hear her talk, one would think her performance had led to a team loss.
Her floor routine earned a 9.875, a score that would have left many gymnasts satisfied.
But for Hunter, who has scored four perfect marks on floor in her career, the routine was unacceptable.
The 2012 NCAA vault champion also scored an uncharacteristically low 9.825 in Florida’s opening rotation, but it was still tied for the third best vault among her teammates.
The senior was silently fuming afterward, however, and even after freshman teammate Alex McMurtry followed her on vault with a perfect 10, Hunter remained quiet and focused, not talking to anyone during the time between each rotation.
The intensity was palpable as soon as she began her bars routine, and she scored a 9.900.
She followed that up with another 9.900 on beam, and ultimately earned a share of the all-around title with Auburn’s Caitlin Atkinson, scoring a 39.500.
“Kytra’s a perfectionist,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “That’s exactly why she’s as amazing of an athlete as she is, because she demands and expects a lot of herself, and she went out and she wants to be able to pull in those 10s.
“I told her I felt there was tremendous improvement in her bars and her beams this week, and that was huge. Vault and floor, I know she can do it anytime. It’s just a little off here and there, but I’m not concerned. … She’s a tough cookie.”
Hunter and her Gator teammates will get a full week of training this week, a luxury they didn’t have leading into the Auburn meet.
That time to hone in on the details will be just what Hunter is looking for as she prepares for Florida’s next challenge, a road meet against Alabama.
To beat the Crimson Tide, the Gators will have to be much better than last week.
But for Hunter to be satisfied, they’d better be perfect.
Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24
Kytra Hunter performs her floor exercise during Florida's 197.200-195.650 win against Auburn on Jan. 16 in the O'Connell Center.