The moment before senior Alex McMurtry landed her final pass on floor, Rec Hall was quiet.
Teammates and fans alike waited in silence to see if McMurtry would keep her feet planted or repeat the fall she took at the SEC Championships on March 24 that resulted in a third-place finish for Florida.
As both feet touched the ground in a steady finish, the noise rushed out of those watching in an explosion of excitement. The perfect landing left the mood high for the Gators, who went on to claim first place at the NCAA Regional Championships in University Park, Pennsylvania, on Saturday with a score of 197.725.
Washington finished second in the event (196.275), followed by Arizona State (195.750), New Hampshire (194.950), Penn State (194.900) and West Virginia (194.400).
The Gators are now headed to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis on April 20. Florida has qualified for the meet 36 times in 37 years.
UF began the first rotation of the regionals on floor, where its team total of 49.325 gave it a lead it wouldn’t give up throughout the competition. Senior Rachel Slocum and junior Alicia Boren both notched scores of 9.900 to take the lead for Florida and tie Washington’s Zoey Schaefer and Kristyn Hoffa in first.
UF ended its second rotation in front of No. 8 Washington at 98.725 after three Gators posted a 9.900 or higher on vault. Slocum took her third vault win of 2018 with a score of 9.950 that matched her collegiate best in the event. Behind her was McMurtry at 9.925 to take second place. Boren’s 9.900 tied Penn State’s Lauren Bridgens and West Virginia’s Zaakira Muhammad in third, rounding out the Gators in the top-three on vault.
McMurtry took the uneven bars win at 9.975, followed by freshman Megan Skaggs and sophomore Rachel Gowey, who tied for second at 9.900 with Arizona State’s Ashley Szafranski. McMurtry, Skaggs and Gowey were the only Gators to post scores of 9.900 or greater on bars. This theme continued onto balance beam, where McMurtry, Gowey and Boren led the event in first, second and third, respectively.
Florida won every event Saturday, helping push it to first place and what will be its 36th time advancing to the NCAA Championships. In addition, three UF gymnastics made an appearance in the top 10 of the all-around. McMurtry claimed first at 39.725, followed by sophomore Amelia Hundley in second at 39.300 and Boren wrapped up eighth with a total of 39.025.
With their first-place finish, the No. 5 Gators will now set their sights on the NCAA Championships. The team has 13 days to prepare for its last meet of the season.
Follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact her at email@example.com.
Senior Alex McMurtry took the individual title in the All Around (39.725) in Florida's win at the NCAA Regional Championship in University Park, Pennsylvania.