As it marched out to The Chainsmokers’ “Something Just Like This,” the Florida gymnastics team danced, Gator Chomped and smiled, hyping up the crowd at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis on Saturday night with its infectious energy. Even UCLA’s fans participated in the fun, doing the Gator Chomp back to UF as it lined up single file on stage to collect its third-place trophy at the NCAA Super Six team final. There were no signs that the team had just lost a national title to UCLA by .225 of a point.
But there was one gymnast whose smile was masked by tears. Senior Alex McMurtry moved a little slower than her teammates, gazing around the arena as her final collegiate gymnastics meet officially came to a close.
“No regrets,” McMurtry said in a release.
For the 18-time All-American, there shouldn’t be. In the 2018 season alone, she scored two perfect 10s — one on vault and one on beam — in the Gators’ meet against Oklahoma on Jan. 26. Her score on beam completed a “Gym Slam,” which is when a gymnast records a 10 in every event over the course of her career.
She played a key role to UF recording only two losses during the regular season and led the Gators with 26 event titles, including 10 on bars, eight on vault, five on beam, two in all-around and one on floor.
“We had the toughest season I've ever been a part of,” McMurtry said. “I started balling, not because I was that upset, but because I was so happy that we finished on a strong note.”
The team will also say goodbye to seniors Rachel Slocum and Kennedy Baker. Slocum made an impact at the NCAA Regionals on April 7 with a shared win on floor and a win on vault and has continued to be a source of joy and motivation for the Gators. Though Baker’s season ended early — she suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Feb. 23 in a meet against Arkansas — she served her time well this year, posting her third career perfect 10 on floor against Alabama on Feb. 9.
“I am truly thankful for their leadership,” coach Jenny Rowland said about the team’s three seniors. “They've left an amazing mark on this team.”
Even with the loss of McMurtry, Slocum and Baker, UF has much to look forward to in its returning gymnasts. Freshman Alyssa Baumann was a major asset on the team, collecting three wins on beam and one win on floor in the regular season.
She also led the Gators on floor at the NCAA Championships and Super Six, finishing second in both events with a collegiate best of 9.950.
“This is just the beginning,” Baumann said. “The next three years is going to be special."
In her third year as UF’s coach, Jenny Rowland has a lot to be proud of. Florida finished ranked third in the nation with accolades including advancing to the NCAA Championships for the 36th time in 37 years and 23 collegiate-best marks on the season.
“They laid their heart out on the floor,” Rowland said. “They laid their gymnastics out on the floor, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez and contact her at email@example.com.
Senior Rachel Slocum tied for a first-place finish in vault during the NCAA Regionals on April 7. She and two other seniors competed in their last meet during the Super Six on Saturday.