As soon as Rachel Slocum stuck her landing on vault, she couldn’t contain her excitement.
The junior sprinted down the runway dabbing before giving teammate Alex McMurtry a hug and then jumping into the arms of Florida coach Jenny Rowland.
“When we were at the end of the vault, Alex (McMurtry) was wondering what she should do on the way back,” Slocum said. “And then the gears started turning in my head. I had to dab. So then I finished, and I was like ‘of course.'”
Her score, a 9.95, was tied with McMurtry (bars) for the highest of the night for the Gators, ending the meet on a positive note after the team struggled early.
Two major mistakes on bars — a fall from freshman Rachel Gowey and an over-rotated handstand by Alicia Boren — and a few shaky beam routines had UF trailing Georgia by .325 halfway through the meet.
But the Gators got their momentum back during their third rotation bye when they watched their newcomers — Slocum, Amelia Hundley, Sierra Alexander, Gowey and Maegan Chant — dance in the locker room, a team tradition.
“Last night we actually made up a choreographed dance, and I’m not going to lie, it was pretty good,” Hundley said while laughing after the meet. “I think they were happy with the way it turned out. It was pretty lit.”
UF's final two rotations on floor (49.45) and vault (49.475) were the top-two scoring rotations of the night for the regional’s six teams.
They secured the Gators a 197.125, the top team score of the night, and a trip to St. Louis for the NCAA Championships.
Georgia rounded out the top two, also advancing with a 196.775.
“We just had a blast on floor and vault. It was our last time this season in front of our fans,” McMurtry, who won the all-around title, said. “I think we did really well and built off every single score.”
Florida now has fewer than two weeks before it competes in the NCAA semifinals on April 14. From there, the Gators hope to advance to the Super Six and earn the program’s fourth NCAA title.
“I think this team really showed a lot of heart, and that was our word of the day today,” Rowland said. “We talk about ‘you know what, it’s not over until the last routine.’ (I’m) really proud of this team.”