Though the Gators fell short of a national title on Saturday, there were still many memorable moments throughout their run to the NCAA Championships.
Here are three of the moments that proved to some of the best:
1. Rachel Slocum’s vault celebration.
Rachel Slocum was the gymnast often referred to as the “dancing girl” throughout the season. The junior transfer from Eastern Michigan dabbed her way into the hearts of Gator fans in her first season at UF. She put those moves on display during the NCAA Gainesville Regional on April 1. After sticking her unique vault — a front handspring pike-front half twist — Slocum sprinted down the runway furiously dabbing before leaping into the arms of coach Jenny Rowland. “When we were at the end of the vault, Alex (McMurtry) was wondering what she should do on the way back,” Slocum said following the meet. “And then the gears started turning in my head. I had to dab. So then I finished, and I was like ‘of course.'” Not only was the celebration memorable, but so was the vault. It earned her a 9.95 — a team high on the event — and a share of the vault title, helping the Gators secure a spot in the NCAA semifinals.
2. Kennedy Baker gets a perfect 10 at the Link to Pink Meet.
The stage was set. Sophomore Alicia Boren had just delivered a career-high 9.95 on floor in front of a pink-clad crowd of 9,108 during Florida’s meet against Auburn. It was time for the last floor routine of the night which came from Kennedy Baker. Baker stuck her first tumbling pass. And then her second. And as she stuck her third pass it was clear that Baker wasn’t just performing a routine, she was putting on a tumbling clinic. The judges agreed. As soon as the score flipped around, the crowd erupted and the O’Connell Center seemed to shake with excitement. It was a 10. Baker put her hands over her heart in shock before being swarmed by her teammates. “Kennedy earned it that night,” Jenny Rowland said on Monday. “She did a performance of a lifetime and the judges couldn’t deny her of that.”
3. Alex McMurtry wins the SEC all-around title.
Going into the SEC Championship, Alex McMurtry already had three perfect 10s on the season in three different events (vault, floor, bars). There was only one thing that she was missing — an all-around title. The junior had previously struggled to put together a complete meet in the three times she competed all four events. She had a fall on floor in her first attempt, fell off bars in her second, and then barely avoided another fall on bars in her third try. But on the conference’s biggest stage, all of her routines finally came together. McMurtry delivered with an all-around score of 39.7, earning her the first title of her collegiate career. She also became the fifth Gator in the last six years to claim the SEC all-around title. “Positive, amazing, wonderful,” Rowland said. “I don’t have enough adjectives to describe this young lady.” McMurtry’s win in Jacksonville would start a trend, as she went on to win the NCAA Gainesville Regional and NCAA all-around titles in the following two meets.
UF gymnast Rachel Slocum celebrates during the NCAA Gainesville Regional on April 1, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.