The audience at the O’Connell Center gasped in disbelief as sophomore Alyssa Baumann hit the floor.
She had only just begun her beam routine when she slipped and hit the mat. It was a costly mistake.
Baumann earned a 9.400, forcing the Gators to keep a 9.625 from Megan Skaggs.
The meet was close to the end, but the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs bested UF in its own arena as they stole a 197.450-197.375 victory in Gainesville. The loss was the Gators’ first in conference play, and it spoiled UF’s potential first SEC sweep since 2007.
“This week, we had some mistakes,” Baumann said after the meet. “I think that’s gonna push us, especially since it was to one of our biggest rivals.”
UF competed on vault first. After a 9.775 from junior Maegan Chant, the Gators put up a solid performance, with every other gymnast punching above the 9.8 mark. The highest score came from senior Alicia Boren, who placed with a 9.925.
Save for a fall by UGA gymnast Rachel Dickson that earned her a 9.200, the Bulldogs had a similar performance on bars. When it looked like the Gators might take the lead, UGA gymnast Marissa Oakley turned in a stellar 9.950 routine, and that was enough to outmatch UF. Georgia held a 49.300-49.275 lead over Florida heading into the second rotation.
Florida’s second rotation was on what is arguably its best event, the uneven bars. Florida had three consecutive scores at or above the 9.9 mark
The scores got better with each gymnast, starting with freshman Savannah Schoenherr, who scored a 9.900. Next came sophomore Megan Skaggs with a 9.925, and freshman Trinity Thomas earned a 9.975 to cap it off.
Georgia’s vault rotation included three consecutive 9.900s, but it wasn’t enough to keep the lead: UF wrenched the narrow lead from the Bulldogs heading into the third rotation, taking a narrow 98.675-98.650 lead of its own.
It initially looked good for UF on the beam. Skaggs placed with a 9.625 on the first routine, which was set to be the drop score. With another string of three scores at or above 9.9, including a 9.925 from junior Amelia Hundley, it seemed that Florida would head into the final rotation ahead.
With Alyssa's fall, UF would lose its only lead of the night.
The Bulldogs’ highest score on the floor was a 9.900 by gymnast Rachel Lukas, but it was enough for UGA to omit barely retake the lead, it went into the last rotation up 147.975-147.850.
Florida’s last rotation, the floor, was its best of the night. Thomas netted another 9.975 on her routine, and both Boren and freshman Nya Reed placed with 9.925s.
Despite this, though, Georgia’s beam routines didn’t falter. The highest score came from UGA gymnast Sabrina Vega with a 9.950, and Alyssa Baumann’s sister, Rachel, followed close behind with a 9.925.
It was up to Alyssa, the team’s last floor member, to go for a win or a tie. She needed at least a 9.900 to tie and a better score would have won, but she was unable to do it: her routine was given a 9.850, and Florida saw its first SEC loss on its home mat.
“For the Gators tonight, it was a missed opportunity,” coach Jenny Rowland said. “But it’s not the end of the world. It was a competition. We’ve got a lot more to go.”
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].