Sinclair perfect on bars in win

Florida’s Melanie Sinclair celebrates scoring a perfect 10 on the uneven bars during the meet against Kentucky on Friday.

AARON DAYE/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 12:47 a.m.

When Melanie Sinclair woke up Friday morning, the feeling of perfection overwhelmed her.

During warmups, it came back and once she touched those bars, there was no stopping her.

For the third time in her career, Florida’s redshirt junior gymnast scored a perfect 10 on the bars routine to help the fifth-ranked Gators defeat Kentucky 195.925-193.850 Friday inside the O’Connell Center. Ironically, Sinclair’s first perfect 10 came on Feb. 16, 2007, as a freshman in the Link to Pink meet against the Wildcats.

The question of whether or not she had nailed her routine never went through her mind once her feet hit the blue platform after releasing herself from her final rotation. She knew, her teammates knew and the crowd certainly knew it as the O-Dome erupted at the conclusion of her performance.

“I honestly felt like I got a 9.95 or higher,” Sinclair said of what she was thinking just before her bar score was released.

Sinclair impressed the entire match, eventually taking home the crown as the No. 1 all-arounder of the meet with a total score of 39.450. She began the night with a score of 9.85 on the vault, finishing tied for second. Her only blemish of the night came on beam, where her nearly flawless routine ended when she stumbled a bit as she landed her dismount. She more than made up for it during her floor exercise where she finished first overall with a score of 9.875.

Sinclair wasn’t the only one to shine on a night in which the fifth-ranked Gators sported their pink-and-black uniforms in honor of UF’s third annual Link to Pink meet and swept all four events to improve to 3-1 on the season and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play. The loss also sends the Wildcats (1-3, 0-3 SEC) into a three-match losing streak.

Redshirt junior Maranda Smith placed first on vault by posting a personal-collegiate best score of 9.95. She also notched a 9.90 on bars, tying for second with senior Corey Hartung, and finished up with a 9.850 on floor, also placing her in second.

“I was so proud of Maranda tonight,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “Maranda’s competing aggressively like a star. She’s competing confidently and that was wonderful to see.”

Hartung was again on top of her game for most of the night as she finished second all-around with a score of 39.325. Hartung was consistent throughout (9.825 on vault, 9.90 on bars and beam), but failed to take home No. 1 honors after she took a bit of a stumble in the middle of her floor routine where she finished with a 9.70.

Though the Gators rebounded nicely against the Wildcats, the night was not free of errors, especially on the beam where the UF has struggled in each meet this year.

For the third consecutive match, the Gators watched a couple of their teammates fall from the platform. While, Sinclair called the mistakes “aggressive,” Hartung didn’t hold back her displeasure with the team’s performance.

“We just keep having stupid mistakes on the beam,” she said. “We talked after the meet tonight that one bad beam rotation is fine, but not two, like today. Having a second one today is unacceptable.”

Faehn said that the team’s mistakes have become more mental than physical and that some of the athletes are becoming too tentative, causing them to “hold back.” Faehn said she plans to experiment with different beam lineups in the next couple of weeks before the Gators compete for the Southeastern Conference championships.

“Once we’re able to get our athletes on track and in the lineups – the athletes that will be competing at the end of the year – we’re going to start to see some consistency,” she said, “with our routines and our scores.”

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