Gymnastics beats Kentucky with solid all-around performance

Florida's Ashanee Dickerson performs her floor exercise against Kentucky on Friday. Dickerson finished second in the event with a score of 9.875, but won the all-around title.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 14, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 12:02 a.m.

The University of Florida gymnastics team followed up its impressive season-opening win over Nebraska with another solid performance, easily defeating visiting Kentucky 196.775-192.90 before an O'Connell Center crowd of 4,556 Friday night in the SEC opener for both squads.

Despite changing the lineups in three of the four events from the ones that put up a 196.95 score that ranked second all-time at UF for a season opener, coach Rhonda Faehn's deep and talented squad dominated its second straight ranked opponent. The Gators scored only .175 less overall in the win over the No. 16 Wildcats than in last week's victory over No. 10 Nebraska.

UF, ranked No. 1 in this week's GymInfo poll, improved to 2-0, 1-0 in the SEC, while Kentucky slipped to 2-1, 0-1.

“We're extremely pleased once again with how the team did, especially with so many different lineups,” Faehn said. “We added new routines and different athletes got an opportunity to get out there tonight.”

The Gators started out strong, bettering their marks on the first two events — the vault and uneven bars — from last week. UF posted a 49.375 on the vault and followed that with a 49.450 on the bars to put Kentucky in an early hole.

“I think that the vault and the bars performances were stellar,” Faehn said. “There were so many stuck landings. They just really performed well.”

Leading the way was freshman Alaina Johnson, who won both events with personal-best scores of 9.95 on the vault and 9.925 on the bars. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week from Tyler, Texas, was again very impressive, tying teammate Amy Ferguson for third on the floor exercise with a 9.85 in her only other event.

“I came in just the same way as I did the last competition,” Johnson said. “I was focused. There's always stuff that I can polish up and improve on, but I definitely had fun out there.”

Meanwhile, sophomore standout Ashanee Dickerson won her second all-around title in as many tries this season, despite not having one of her better performances.

Dickerson was the lone UF all-around competitor in the meet, joining Kentucky's Andrea Mitchell and Whitney Rose. After a disappointing beam performance, she found herself trailing both Wildcats heading into the final event, but responded with a crowd-pleasing 9.875 to share the floor crown with sophomore Marissa King. Dickerson's score of 39.225 was more than enough for the ninth all-around title of her young career after both Mitchell and Rose had falls on the beam, UK's final event.

“I got ahead of myself a little and made a few mistakes,” Dickerson said. “Sometimes you just have to put those mistakes behind you and try to do better in the next event, and that's what I did.”

King, who struggled a bit in the season opener, bounced back with a solid effort. In addition to sharing the floor title with Dickerson, she tied for first on the beam with teammate Liz Green, each with a 9.825.

“I'm a lot more pleased than last week,” King said. “I think I had a rough start to the season. It was just nice to go out there and do better than last week. It just motivates me more because I know I can go out there and do those routines under pressure.”

UF faces SEC foe LSU in its first road test of the year Friday night before returning to the O-Dome for the annual “Link to Pink” meet that will bring Penn State and North Carolina State to town Jan. 28.

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