In what was supposed to be a series of perfect back handsprings, senior Alex McMurtry dropped to the floor off the balance beam. It was the first time since the 2017 season that she had competed in every event, a thought that didn’t escape her mind even as she wrapped up her last event of the night. The fall resulted in a 9.325, one point higher than her season-low score of 9.225 against Auburn on Feb. 2.
In their 196.950-196.125 win over Georgia on Friday night in Athens, the No. 5 Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) continued their five-meet winning streak. Despite taking three of the meet’s four events, Florida’s balance beam rotation stood out as it featured both an individual achievement and misstep.
"I feel we are still moving in the right direction,” coach Jenny Rowland said in a release. “We had to count a fall, but on the other events, we showed big strides.”
Though McMurtry didn’t post a top score, two other Gators were able to find success against the No. 14 Bulldogs (3-4, 3-3 SEC). They were sophomore Amelia Hundley, who took second with a score of 9.875, and freshman Alyssa Baumann, whose 9.900 was good for her second career win this season. Baumann’s routine proved to be more difficult than usual, as the duration of her performance was overshadowed by the sound of a home Georgia crowd celebrating Sydney Snead’s 10.0 on floor.
“I couldn't hear myself think,” Baumann said. “I just tried to tell myself (the cheering) was for me and to stay calm and confident."
Baumann’s first career title came on Jan. 5 in Florida’s season opener against West Virginia. Similar to her most recent competition, her score of 9.900 last month on beam helped her tie for first alongside sophomore Rachel Gowey and junior Alicia Boren. One person who is not surprised by the SEC Freshman of the Week’s ability to adapt is coach Jenny Rowland.
“I know she heard it,” Rowland said. “She didn't let anything get to her – really proud of her.”
As UF heads back home to face No. 8 Arkansas on Feb. 23, Rowland remains confident in the team’s ability to make improvements in its routines.
“Beam is an event we are very solid on,” Rowland said,” and we will work out those little bumps,” Rowland said.
A story from floridagators.com contributed to this report.
Follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freshman Alyssa Baumann earned a 9.900 on beam while the Stegeman Coliseum erupted in cheers for a Georgia performer's 10.0 on floor. “I just tried to tell myself (the cheering) was for me and to stay calm and confident," she said.