The second ranked Florida gymnastics team’s Senior Night will be one no one on the team will forget, especially for the gymnasts it honored: Ashanée Dickerson, Marissa King, Randy Stageberg and Dali Lemezan. The Gators rolled past No. 14 Minnesota in a 198.425-197.125 win, posting both the nation’s new top score and the new top score in program history. And that’s only the first record that was broken Friday night in the O’Dome. Dickerson talks about the atmosphere and performance in her last home meet as a Gator.
Dressed in leotards full of rhinestones designed by the senior class, the Gators took a solid start on the vault. Sophomore Kytra Hunter, the 2012 NCAA Vault champion and All-Around champion, scored a near-perfect 9.975 for the fifth time in the last 11 meets, taking the vault title. Dickerson turned in a 9.90, which she has posted at or above on six of her seven vault performances in 2013. Lemezan performed an exhibition on vault, scoring a 9.825. Gator coach Rhonda Faehn talks about how special it was to see Lemezan on vault for Senior Night.
From the time the Gators moved to the uneven bars, it was lights out the rest of the way. All five scores that Florida counted into their bar total were 9.9’s or above, bringing the total to 49.675, tying for second in program history. Junior Mackenzie Caquatto posted yet another almost perfect 9.975 to anchor the rotation, which won her the bar title. Freshman Bridget Sloan scored 9.95 on bars, with one judge giving her a perfect 10. Faehn says she talked with the judges afterwards about the routine, because she believed it was perfect.
The Gators have had some uncharacteristic mistakes on balance beam in the past couple weeks, including last week when they were forced to count a fall into their final beam score against Kentucky. This week, the gymnasts set a school record and new nation’s top score of 49.6. Only three Gators have ever received a 9.975 on beam; three are one this team in Caquatto, Dickerson, and Sloan who upped her collegiate best to 9.975 Friday night to take the beam title. Hunter also bested her collegiate score to a 9.925, and fellow sophomore Rachel Spicer also turned in a new collegiate best of 9.875. Beam leadoff Stageberg also turned in a 9.875, and says she is sad to leave the program because she feels like she is just getting the hang of collegiate gymnastics.
When it was time for the Gators’ final rotation, the gymnasts left everything on the floor. In another record breaking effort, all five scores that Florida counted for the floor lineup were 9.9’s or above, posting a 49.7, a new school record and the new nation’s top total. Stageberg tied her collegiate best with a 9.9, along with Sloan who also tied her collegiate best with a 9.925. Crowd favorites and senior honorees, Dickerson and King, did all-star performances to end their careers in the O’Dome. Dickerson scored a 9.95 and King took the floor title with the score of 9.975. King, an England native, talks about what it meant to her to have her family in America to support for for Senior Night.
After dropping to second in the rankings after mistakes made last week, the gymnasts had no idea how high they had performed Friday night until the 198.425 came booming through the O’Dome. Hunter upped her collegiate best all-around score to a 39.8, which now sits as the nation’s top all-around score, and tying the top score in Gators’ program history. Sloan was right behind her with a 39.75, which is the second-highest all-around score in the nation right now. Hunter talks about what motivated her and her teammates to retake the nation’s top total.
Up next, the Gators have a week off before traveling to Salt Lake City to take on eighth ranked Utah March 16th to end the regular season. After that, the Gators gear up for the Southeastern Conference Championship in Little Rock, Arkansas on March 23rd.