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Friday, February 03, 2023
<p>Senior Rachel Slocum tied for a first-place finish in vault during the NCAA Regionals on April 7. She and two other seniors competed in their last meet during the Super Six on Saturday. </p>

Senior Rachel Slocum tied for a first-place finish in vault during the NCAA Regionals on April 7. She and two other seniors competed in their last meet during the Super Six on Saturday. 

As soon as the upbeat melody begins to play, there is no doubt which Gator is about to compete.

The tune — a mashup of All Night and Catgroove by Parov Stelar — is high-energy, and the routine choreography is funny and light, but also strong, matching the personality of the gymnast performing it.

Rachel Slocum.

“I think if I tried to do like a Rachel Gowey routine, so like soft, dancey, it would look awkward on me,” Slocum said on Wednesday. “I like that it’s high-energy, and I like to interact with the crowd.”

Whether on the floor or on the sidelines dancing, her energy is infectious to the crowd and her team during meets.

But don’t mistake her playful personality as a sign of her being a disinterested competitor.

In last Friday’s meet against then-No. 9 Georgia, she earned a 9.875 with her floor performance. Her vault, however, came in striking distance of perfection.

The unusual vault — a front handspring pike-front half twist — has earned her no less than 9.875 through five meets.

But for the first time against the Bulldogs, one judge gave her a perfect 10 while another gave her a 9.950, averaging out to a 9.975, a career high.

What the junior transfer from Eastern Michigan wants now, however, is a perfect 10 from both judges.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t even explain how much I want it,” Slocum said. “I’m like right there. … I think this weekend if I do what I’ve been practicing and stick that landing it will seal the deal.”

Slocum will get that opportunity tonight when No. 3 Florida (5-1, 2-1 SEC) takes on No. 23 Arkansas (2-4, 2-3 SEC) in Fayetteville.

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The Gators are coming off their best performance of the season but are still searching for their first SEC road win.

“I think that this is honestly one of the best teams I’ve been on since I’ve been here,” junior Kennedy Baker said. “I think that whatever we want, we can get.”

Between Baker (floor) and teammate Alex McMurtry (bars), Florida is the first school in the NCAA to have a 10 from two gymnasts this season.

McMurtry, who has yet to compete on floor, will make her all-around debut against the Razorbacks, according to Florida coach Jenny Rowland, if everything goes to plan.

And while the Gators have already proven how dominant they can be, Rowland is still looking for the same intensity tonight against a tough conference opponent.

“Competing against every SEC team, it’s always a wow factor,” Rowland said. “There is not one team in the SEC that you can be down for.”

Contact Lauren Staff at lstaff@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @LStaff27.

Senior Rachel Slocum tied for a first-place finish in vault during the NCAA Regionals on April 7. She and two other seniors competed in their last meet during the Super Six on Saturday. 

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