After missing most of the season while recovering from major shoulder surgery, Gators gymnast Bridgette Caquatto didn’t have much experience when she stepped onto the floor to compete at the 2012 NCAA Super Six as a true freshman. But she performed like a seasoned veteran.
Caquatto turned in a nearly flawless performance, earning a score of 9.95 in the floor exercise. The score was good enough to tie for second overall in the event in the team finals, and it helped complete the Gators’ improbable comeback to earn the program’s first ever national championship.
“I knew I had to hit my floor routine because we had a lot of falls on the first rotation. I wasn’t worried about hitting it. I was just worried about having fun, knowing that I had done everything I could have done. I just wanted to do great for the team because I knew that our team was so special and we could have won the NCAA Championship, and we did,” said Caquatto.
Caquatto will look to build on her Super Six performance as the Gators prepare to defend their national title this season. The sophomore from Naperville, Illinois came in as a top recruit out of Naperville Central High School, but off-season surgery kept her sidelined for most of last season. She hopes to be able to contribute to the team in a larger role this year now that she’s fully healthy.
“This year I’m really hoping to make a name for myself and show the coaches that they can trust me out there to help the team in any way possible,” said Caquatto.
Luckily for Bridgette, she has an older role model to learn from on the team in her sister Mackenzie. Mackenzie Caquatto is already a five-time All-American for Florida as she enters her senior season as a Gator, and Bridgette hopes to learn from her sister’s success.
“Having her here is one of the main reasons I committed to Florida,” said Bridgette. “I was so happy to be reunited with her and be able to train with her again. I think we bring out the best in each other when we have good days or bad days in the gym.”
The two sisters will need the good days to outnumber the bad if they hope to contend for another national championship this year. Even after achieving the ultimate prize in her freshman season, Bridgette said the thrill of winning the title motivates here even more to do it again this year.
“The hardest thing to do is to repeat a championship,” said Caquatto. “It makes me want it even more. It makes me want to have it happen every year that I’m here.”
Caquatto and the Gators will begin their quest to defend their title on January 11 when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the UCLA Bruins.