Alex McMurtry thrust out a perfectly pointed left foot and pushed both arms forward in a mock sprint. Sweeping her hands back, she wasted no time in her last time competing in the O'Connell Center. She raced forward to perform her final vault routine at home this season and in her collegiate career.
McMurtry made an impactful mark Friday night in Florida’s win over Nebraska as the first Gator in the last seven years to win all five event titles.
“The moment I’m going to remember is praying before the meet started,” McMurtry said in a release. “I always say a prayer and thank God that I have the talent to bring joy to people and Gator fans. It is the fans who make it worthwhile.”
UF’s 197.925-196.700 win resulted in its top score of the season. The victory was nothing new for the No. 5 Gators, who defeated the Cornhuskers (11-3, 5-0 Big Ten) last time the two faced each other on Jan. 7, 2011. Florida continued to collect wins as a team on the night, posting a season high on bars with a team total of 49.575.
McMurtry took all of the night’s four events, with wins in vault, bars, beam and floor. She tied Nebraska’s Sienna Crouse for first on vault with a 9.950 and continued UF’s lead into the third rotation with a 9.975 win on bars. Her two other top scores included a 9.975 on beam and a 9.925 in floor. In only her third time competing in each event this season, McMurtry took the all-around win with a score of 39.825, tying a school record.
“It just has been an awesome experience and a blessing to touch so many people’s lives,” McMurtry said. “That’s what I’ll remember about tonight and my four years here.”
The Senior Night victory was an important one for the Gators (8-2, 5-2 SEC). The team celebrated four seniors: Kennedy Baker, Grace McLaughlin, Alex McMurtry and Rachel Slocum.
“This is a night the entire team looks forward to,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “It was an exclamation point to end the regular season and a good way to go into post season.”
For Baker, her last night competing with UF came early. In the Gators Link to Pink meet against Arkansas on Feb. 23, Baker left the O’Connell center with a torn Achilles tendon in her final floor routine of her career. Friday night, she showed the injury would not stop her from supporting her fellow teammates. She could be seen traveling alongside the mat to cheer on each Gator. Baker was even able to close out the meet for Florida, making her last appearance on the floor to perform a single gator chomp to end the night.
“That [atmosphere] is just better at the University of Florida,” Baker said. “Competing in the O’Dome is unmatched.”
Though the spotlight was on the seniors Friday night, freshman Jazmyn Foberg showed the strength of UF’s freshman class, breaking her season-bests on vault and bars. Her 9.900 on vault and 9.950 on bars rounded out a second place-finish in each event.
The Gators have the next week off before the SEC Tournament starts on March 24.
“We are very excited that we have a week off,” Rowland said. “We will learn from tonight and move forward.”
Follow Alana Gomes on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact her at email@example.com.
Senior Alex McMurtry tied the all-time UF record with her All-Around score Friday night against Nebraska.