Florida gymnast Kennedy Baker performs on the floor during a meet against West Virginia at Exactech Arena in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville Friday March 10, 2017. Florida won the meet over the Mountaineers.

Florida gymnasts dominate West Virginia

By Jim Harvin Correspondent
Friday, March 10, 2017 11:46 PM

You just knew that the Florida gymnastics team was going to close out the regular season in style on Senior Night.

They did not disappoint Friday.

Getting wins in every event, the third-ranked Gators (8-2) bounced back from a disappointing effort at LSU last Sunday to post a solid 197.600-196.100 win over No. 22 West Virginia (12-8) in the Exactech Arena at the O'Connell Center.

“It was a very good night,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “It was an evening where I felt like this team was normal.

“I think last weekend we were a bit tired and a bit fatigued. Our energy was down a little bit. I think tonight we were back on task and that was really nice to see.”

Rachel Slocum started things off with a 9.95 to win the vault, and that seemed to jump-start the Gators.

Alex McMurtry, who placed second on the vault (9.90), then tied Amelia Hundley for the win on the uneven parallel bars, with both Gators scoring a 9.925.

McMurtry and Hundley then went 1-2 on the balance beam, with McMurtry scoring a 9.95 while Hundley was right behind with 9.90, and Kennedy Baker, who competed in three events for the first time since the Alabama meet Feb. 3, capped things off by winning the floor exercise with a sparkling 9.975.

“I've really missed competing,” Baker said. “It's really hard watching everybody and not being able to contribute, so I felt really, really good to get out there and do bars and compete on floor. I was especially happy with floor because I was really nervous. I'm just really excited to be back.”

McMurtry also had a big night.

“I was more focused on the team environment and really bringing the energy,” McMurtry said. “Every routine was a little bit better for me this week.”

Although Gowey did not match her season-high mark of 39.475 set against Auburn back on Jan. 27, she nevertheless won her first all-around title with a 39.275.

“I'm just really proud of my performance,” Gowey said. “I've been trying to put a meet together and do the best that I can do. I think overall it was just a really great meet for everyone.”

While senior Claire Boyce did not compete, she was right there with the team for every event.

“There were definitely a lot of emotions,” she said. “I just wanted to be able to watch everyone have a great meet, and they did. That was really all I could have asked for.”

The postseason now awaits.

Florida will compete at the SEC Championships next Saturday in Jacksonville, then will return to the Exactech Arena to host the NCAA Regionals on April 1.

The NCAA Championships will be held April 14-15 in St. Louis, Mo.

“I know everybody is ready to move on to the postseason,” Rowland said. “I'm just really proud of what this team has accomplished this year.”




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