UF gymnastics dominates quad meet competition


Marissa King reacts after seeing her 9.95 score on the beam at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on Friday. Florida defeated Arkansas, Maryland and Bridgeport in a quad meet.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.

Florida coach Rhonda Faehn likes to refer to a quad meet as a “three-ring circus” because of all the constant activity and noise.

That being the case, Gator junior All-America Ashanee Dickerson played the role of ringmaster Friday, leading eighth-ranked UF to an impressive victory over a trio of opponents including an Arkansas team that shared the nation's No. 1 ranking with UCLA before an O'Connell Center crowd of 6,198.

Dickerson, who had been a little under the radar so far this year, took home her first all-around title of the season with a score of 39.60, just .10 off her career best, as the Gators (6-0, 2-0 SEC) blew away their season-high mark of 196.275 set last week with a score of 197.575 that ranks as the fifth-best team score in UF history and the top score in the nation this year.

Faehn put a season-high four athletes — Dickerson, fellow junior All-America Marissa King, sophomore All-America Alaina Johnson and freshman Kytra Hunter — in the all-around competition, and the results were certainly impressive

“It's a lot of fun when you have more all-arounders in the lineup,” Dickerson said. “We're a strong team, and if we keep performing like this, we'll be good in the postseason.”

Johnson, competing in the all-around for the first time this season, was right behind Dickerson with a score of 39.575, with Arkansas sophomore All-America Katherine Grable (39.550) preventing a 1-2-3 UF sweep by edging King (39.500) for third.

Grable's winning mark of 9.90 in the vault, meanwhile, prevented UF from claiming all five event titles.

In addition to Dickerson's all-around victory, sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto won the uneven bars with a 9.95 that matched her collegiate best, King won the balance beam with a collegiate-best 9.95, and Dickerson and Hunter shared the floor exercise title with matching 9.95s that tied Dickerson's collegiate best while setting one for Hunter.

Senior Nicole Ellis also turned in a collegiate-best mark, this one a 9.90 on the bars, while Dickerson's 9.925 on the bars that netted her a runner-up finish to Caquatto was also a collegiate best.

“I know that we all gave 100 percent out there, so we weren't really worried about the score,” Johnson said. “Whenever we heard the score we got, it was just awesome to know that whenever we give 100 percent, the outcome is like that.”

The last time UF defeated a No. 1-ranked team was in 1989 when the Gators knocked off top-ranked Alabama en route to winning the SEC Championship.

The Razorbacks (8-1, 2-1), who last season handed then-No. 1 UF its first defeat of the season in Fayetteville, suffered their first loss after finishing second with 196.70, with No. 24 Maryland (4-4) edging Bridgeport (2-4) 193.075-192.975 for third place.

The Gators will hit the road for their next competition, taking on No. 6 Alabama on Friday before returning home to host the always popular “Link to Pink” meet Feb. 10. This year's opponent is LSU.

“I think this was a great confidence booster for our team,” Faehn said. “They are coming together and we are closer to getting to our end, or competitive, lineup. This was the first opportunity to put them together, and I think they really gelled and I think the chemistry and the energy was phenomenal.”

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