It was too little, too late.
Even after the anchoring tandem of Bridget Sloan and Alex McMurtry posted the top-two uneven bars scores of Saturday’s NCAA Super Six, the Florida Gators’ comeback attempt fell short.
With a score of 197.3500, the three-time defending champions finished in fourth place on Saturday, 0.3250 points behind first-placed Oklahoma. LSU (197.4500) finished second, while Alabama (197.4375) took third.
“I think some of them really thought it was going to be handed to us,” Sloan said. “I have learned (that) it doesn’t. Every single year has been tough. … It just wasn’t our year this year.”
As they were throughout the meet, the Gators were solid, if unspectacular.
Opening on the balance beam, Florida was led by the duo of Sloan and McMurtry, whose scores of 9.9000 and 9.8750 tied for seventh and 14th, respectively.
The vault and floor teams encountered much the same, hounded by tight judging throughout the contest.
With their backs against the wall, Florida rounded into shape on bars, sharing the team title with the Sooners.
“Florida will not go down without a fight,” Sloan said. “I don’t care what’s going on around us. … We did what we could, and I think Alex and I both had the routines of our lives tonight.”
But the top performance on bars couldn’t counteract Florida’s performance on the first three apparatuses.
Excluding the final bars rotation, only five Florida performances broke the 9.9000-point barrier.
Florida also suffered from rare mistakes.
Ericha Fassbender nearly fell on beam. Kennedy Baker stumbled on the final landing of a tumbling pass on floor, narrowly avoiding a point deduction for stepping out of bounds.
Freshman Alicia Boren had what was arguably the worst meet of her young collegiate career.
A steady contributor throughout the season, the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, native suffered an uncharacteristic fall on vault, her feet slipping out from under her upon landing.
Boren would go on to finish second-to-last on both vault and bars, contributing to her second-lowest all-around score of the year (38.6875).
But while Boren had a rough outing, Florida’s result does not rest solely on her shoulders.
From the opening rotation, the Gators had their work cut out for them. Simply put, the best team won -- Oklahoma executed, clearing runners-up LSU by over two-tenths.
And even in defeat, Florida’s season was far from a failure.
With two gymnasts out for the season and a first-year head coach at the helm, the Gators paved their way to the 21st Super Six in program history. They snagged a Southeastern Conference championship, and finished second in Road To Nationals’ final team rankings.
They may not have won the battle. But with a talented group of incoming freshmen bolstering a now-experienced rising sophomore class, Florida is well positioned to make another title run.
“It’s OK. Florida will still continue. ...” Sloan said. “I hope that they go home and they go to practice come August and realize (they need to) put in the work now.”
Contact Alejandro Lopez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ajlb95
The Florida gymnastics team huddles after finishing fourth at the NCAA Gymnastics Super Six on April 16, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas.
UF gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland (right) hugs senior gymnast Bridget Sloan after Florida finished fourth at the NCAA Gymnastics Super Six in Fort Worth, Texas.