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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

On a bright, sunny day, it’s difficult to see a single star in the sky.

In the same vein, such a blindingly bright performance by the entire UF gymnastics team against Missouri can make it easy to overlook a budding star continuing her impressive run of form.

That star is freshman Alex McMurtry, and she is quickly establishing herself as one of the best gymnasts in the country. Friday night was simply further affirmation.

McMurtry tied two career bests against the Tigers, scoring a 9.925 on bars and a 9.900 on beam. She also added a 9.950 on vault, the event in which McMurtry has shown the most immediate comfort and prowess this early in her career.

Particularly for home meets when she is able to start on vault, the event gives her confidence that carries over into her other events.

Friday night was no different.

"I love starting on vault, even no matter what the score is, I love vault and hitting my vault," she said Friday. "You just bring that momentum to your next event."

In her entire season, the freshman has only performed one routine that scored less than a 9.825.

That routine occurred in the team’s previous meet at Arkansas, when McMurtry only managed to score a 9.775 on beam.

But on Friday, the freshman said that she - much like the rest of her teammates - could sense a vibe about her performance that night, and she knew there was no chance of another disappointing showing by the way things were going.

"After bars I was so excited and I said ‘Hey, this is my night, I’m gonna hit my beam routine,’" she said Friday. "You gotta be confident in your routines, and I think we were all pretty confident tonight."

Part of McMurtry’s confidence has come from not experiencing any major individual failures through her freshman year. She and senior Kiersten Wang are the only Gator gymnasts who have not suffered a fall or major stumble in any competition this season.

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That would be an impressive statistic for any gymnast, but it’s remarkable for a freshman who has already competed in 16 events.

And in those 16 events, she has scored higher than a 9.90 nine times.

She has exceeded and shattered expectations, and she is already putting herself in the same category as Kytra Hunter and Bridget Sloan.

And with more experience coming her way, she will likely get even better.

 Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24

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