The SEC Championships on March 24 marked two changes for the Gators gymnastics team.
It was its first postseason meet of 2018, one it would head into without a key component in its floor routine in Kennedy Baker. It was also the first time all season the Gators would be competing on a podium, a raised platform that is more springy than the regular-season concrete floor.
The change in equipment was palabe for Florida. It ended its floor routine with a final score of 48.400 (a season low) showing just how difficult the transition was for some of the team.
One gymnast who suffered under the difference in surfaces was senior Alex McMurtry, who fell during her floor routine and scored a season low of 9.125.
“Its an adjustment,” McMurtry said. “At SECs I overcorrected, and it was a really bouncy last pass for me.”
But McMurtry wasn’t the only gymnast to make a mistake. Freshman Megan Skaggs also stumbled in her floor routine to post a low on floor at 9.175. After its floor rotation, UF couldn’t recover, and ended its first postseason meet at third place with a score of 196.825.
The Gators didn’t let the meet get to them, however, and came back to take first at the NCAA Regionals with a score of 197.725 on April 7. McMurtry herself went to take event titles on bars, beam and all-around, including a season best on bars at 9.975. After a top-two finish that qualified it for the NCAA Championships, the Florida team looks toward the end of postseason with bright eyes and a craving for vengeance.
This includes UF coach Jenny Rowland, who has high hopes that her squad will be able to make strides at nationals.
“The team has been handling those pressure situations very well,” Rowland said. “It's a very dedicated group of athletes.”
After their disappointing finish at the SECs, the No. 5 Gators did what they do best in times of trouble: adapt. Its something the Florida team has gotten used to after the loss of senior Kennedy Baker due to an injury on Feb. 23. Following its third-place finish at the conference championship, however, UF proved its versatility when it took first at the NCAA Regionals. It will look to make that same impact on April 20 at the NCAA Championships.
“We know we’re a great team,” McMurtry said. “The world needs to see our potential at Nationals and that's the perfect stage for it.”
Follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact her at email@example.com.
Senior Alex McMurtry's fall during her floor routine at the SEC Championships resulted in her season-low score in the event.