You could hear it in her voice.
In the wake of another late loss against LSU on Feb. 26, Gators gymnastics senior Bridget Sloan sat before the media, disappointed with herself.
What preceded was arguably the worst performance of her collegiate career.
Two mishaps — one on floor, another on beam — docked the Gators’ team score.
What was shaping up as a slim victory was clawed away in an instant, ending in the form of a 197.900-197.875 Tigers’ win.
Bristling with determination, the former Olympian came clean.
“Tonight was obviously not my best performance ever. I've been doing some overthinking lately. … My goal for the next meet is going to be to go back to my old ways and just relax and let my body take over.
“I’m going to look back on this meet and say ‘You know what? I’m glad we had those mistakes,’ because … you have no idea the fire that is literally burning inside me right now.”
On Friday, Sloan led the No. 2 Gators (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) to a convincing 197.525-196.650 victory over No. 23 Kentucky (6-6, 1-6 SEC), stymying an opponent that posted its third-highest team score in program history.
Spearheading the charge in Florida’s final conference dual meet, Sloan took home three of five event titles — clinching laurels in the bars, beam and all-around classifications — while finishing second on vault.
In particular, her beam performance popped out from the rest.
UF’s final competitor of the meet, Sloan crushed her routine, sealing the road win with her seventh collegiate perfect 10.
“I didn't have in my mind to get a 10.0,” Sloan said. “I wasn't striving for that as I was focusing on doing a good routine and (bouncing) back from the rough past two weeks I've had. I was able to come out with an incredible routine and a routine our team needed.”
However, it wasn’t as if the Gators’ third-winningest gymnast of all time shouldered the entire load.
Fellow senior Bridgette Caquatto notched a season-high 9.950 on the floor, taking home the event title and lifting Sloan’s 9.800 on the event.
Freshman Alicia Boren soared to a collegiate-high tying 9.950 on the vault, edging Sloan by 0.050 points and snagging the victory.
On the whole, Florida put together a complete performance, turning in the program’s highest-ever score against the Wildcats in Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum.
“I think the Gators showed that they can bounce back. We had two rough first routines on beam and we were able to completely turn it around and have season or near season-highs by the rest of the lineup,” Sloan said.
"It was definitely an improvement. Jenny (Rowland) always says we don't have to be perfect, just do our best. And that's what we did.”
Contact Alejandro López at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ajlb95.
Bridget Sloan performs on the balance beam during Florida's win against Arkansas on Feb. 12, 2016, in the O'Connell Center.