Kennedy Baker stuck a solid landing, glancing first to the left at her teammates, then to the right at assistant coach Adrian Burde for approval. She smiled at the close of her performance, starting the Gators off with a season-best 9.800 on the uneven bars.


Friday night, No. 6 Florida (2-1, 1-1 SEC) continued SEC action with a 196.325-195.950 win on the road against No. 6 Kentucky (4-1, 1-1 SEC). This was the first time in their 84 meetings that both teams came into the meet with a top-10 ranking. The match marked UF’s first SEC win of the 2018 season, following its loss to No. 1 LSU on Jan. 12.

Florida showed it had learned its lesson after facing the Tigers and brought the energy to Memorial Coliseum to score another win away from home. Despite two small slip-ups from Baker and freshman Megan Skaggs on beam, the meet saw a Gator place first in every event except for floor exercise.

“It wasn’t a perfect night,” coach Jenny Rowland said in a release. “We made a lot of improvements in different areas from our first road meet, which is always good to see.”

UF ended the first round trailing Kentucky by .15 of a point but picked up the pace in its vault routine during the second rotation, where senior Rachel Slocum tied 2017 SEC Freshman of the Year Mollie Korth for first with a score of 9.925. In addition to Slocum, three other Gators made an appearance in the event’s top five. Among these top scorers was sophomore Sierra Alexander, who landed a new season high of 9.850.

“Our performance on vault was much better this week,” Rowland said.

Sophomore Rachel Gowey had a standout performance Friday night, placing first in uneven bars and tying two Wildcats with a score of 9.900 on the balance beam. The meet was Gowey’s first time winning two event titles in a single collegiate meet.

Other highlights came from all-around, where the Wildcats’ Korth took first with Gators junior Alicia Boren and Baker following behind in a close second and third, respectively.

“The Gators were really having a good time and that did show in a lot of ways,” Rowland said.

A story from contributed to this report.

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