The second ranked Florida gymnastics team?s Senior Night will be a night the team will never forget, especially for the gymnasts it honored; Mackenzie Caquatto, Alaina Johnson, and Lauren Rose. ?Many emotions surrounded Friday night as 4,240 fans decked out in Orange and Blue packed the O ?Connell Center to witness the No. 2 Florida gymnastics squad defeat No. 36? West Virginia in a record breaking manner in its last home meet of the season. The Gators surpassed the Mountaineers with a final score of 198.325 to 194.325. This also marked the highest total score in the nation this season for the Gators, and third-highest in school history.
Dressed in leotards full of rhinestones designed by the senior class, Florida opened up with a phenomenal vault rotation. Senior and All-Around champion, Alaina Johnson led the way nailing vault, scoring a near perfect 9.95, tying her collegiate best. Johnson talks about her overall performance in her last home meet as a Florida Gator.
?I told myself I was going to leave everything out there,? Johnson said. ?I had nothing to lose; this was my last competition in the O? Dome and I didn?t want to regret anything and have a blast. That?s what I did.?
From that moment, it was lights out the rest of the way.
Entering the uneven bars rotation, Johnson continued to have an outstanding performance turning in a near perfect 9.975. Mackenzie Caquatto and sophomore Bridget Sloan followed with their fantastic routines, posting 9.95?s. Florida finished with a solid performance finishing 49.625 overall on bars, while the Mountaineers recorded a 48.400.
Moving onto the third rotation, Florida had a stellar performance on balance beam. Johnson continued her terrific meet posting a collegiate-best score of 9.95 on beam. Caquatto also had a beautiful beam routine, recording another near perfect 9.95. Meanwhile, Sloan finished with a 9.975 contributing to the Gator overall score of 49.625 on balance beam.
Once the Gators stepped on the floor for the final rotation, it was evident that they?d once again saved their best performance for last.
Highlighting the night was Kytra Hunter scoring another perfect 10.0 on her sassy floor routine; her perfect ‘ten-point-ohs’ have come twice on vault and three times on floor. Hunter?s consistent top scores has her shattering program records, now first Gator EVER to notch a 10 on floor three times. The junior All-American spoke about the unforgettable night and posting her fifth perfect score this season.
?It?s always good to contribute to a team win and any team score,” Hunter said. “In the team meeting before we even warmed up, we said we?re not only doing this for the school, like we do every other competition, but we?re doing this for the seniors. The seniors have a huge impact on us, they?re really close to us. We?re all close, but it felt good to have that last meet in the O?Dome for them.?
Meanwhile, Johnson took Friday night?s All-Around crown after an unbelievable Senior Night performance with a winning total of 39.825 which is also the nation?s 2014 leader. She also grabbed the vault and uneven bars titles. Fellow senior Mackenzie Caquatto posted a collegiate-best of 39.625 overall to take second overall. Caquatto spoke about her performance and the emotional night.
?This was an incredible Senior Night, I just tried to soak it all in and enjoy every event every step of the way with my teammates and with my family being here,? Caquatto said.? “It?s kind of bittersweet because we do have a long journey to go in postseason, and we have a lot of things to accomplish so it?s not exactly over yet. But, being the last meet in the O?Dome with our fans and just competing out on the floor for the last time was really hard, but it was really great.?
Florida finished home action with a 5-0 record is currently 8-1 overall this season. Gator head coach Rhonda Faehn spoke about the team?s performance.
?They just really, from top to bottom, put it together; so much consistency on all four events,? Faehn said. ?It was very well balanced, ?I still think there are areas we can improve upon, which is the exciting thing- yes, Alaina was lights out, and Macko did really well, and Kytra got a 10.0 on floor; but, Kytra will tell you that?s not the typical vault that she could do.?
Up next, the Gators travel to Columbia to take on No. 24 Missouri on Friday.
?For audio on the above, click here: