Before the No. 5 Gators walked onto the mats of the O’Connell Center, the team sat down and described its individual goals heading into its meet against No. 9 Alabama on Friday.
After Florida eventually defeated the Crimson Tide 197.850 – 197.075, coach Jenny Rowland recalled that some of her gymnasts said they only wanted to be great, but not perfect.
Only two weeks have passed since the Gators gymnastics team saw a 10.0 score on the mats of …
However, senior Kennedy Baker had a different goal in mind. In front of a home crowd of 8,236 people, Baker ended Florida’s sixth meet of the season with a 10.0 on floor, her third perfect score in the event during her career.
“I was into it,” Baker said. “It felt really, really good to get a 10.0 at the end.”
Baker only competed in the floor event Friday night, her first time participating in only one event since the team’s season opener against West Virginia on Jan. 5 when she recorded a 2.0 on bars. The 11-time All-American has made strides since the Gators’ matchup with the Mountaineers and attributes her excitement on the floor to fellow teammate junior Alicia Boren’s routine.
“If she nails her first pass, I’m so lit for her whole routine,” Baker said. “I’m after her, so I can’t disappoint.”
The score marked Baker’s 14th career event title on floor and was the first 10.0 on floor in the SEC this season.
Baker is a role model for her younger teammates. Freshman Alyssa Baumann followed Baker’s example on floor, placing third in the event with a score of 9.925. When competing, Baumann looks to her older teammates, such as Baker, to push her through some of her nerves before a routine.
“It’s awesome to be able to cheer them on the first two events and then go out there for the last two events and really hit my routines,” Baumann said. “My teammates kept telling me to be confident and they believed in me.”
The team’s veterans continue to lead each match for the Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC). In Friday’s competition against Alabama (3-3, 3-2 SEC), Boren took all-around for the second consecutive time this season with a score of 39.60. Senior Alex McMurtry also made an impact with two event titles in bars and vault.
“It’s just really exciting to see us build on every event, build on every meet,” McMurtry said. “It’s gonna be a fun season.”