Gator gymnastics tops Auburn on road

Florida's Alaina Johnson took the all-around title at Auburn on Friday night with a total of total of 39.625.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/File
Published: Friday, February 17, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 12:13 a.m.

AUBURN, Ala. — The No. 2 Florida gymnastics team (8-1, 4-1 SEC) used the nation's sixth-highest score of the season to finish its Southeastern Conference road schedule with a win at No. 17 Auburn (3-9, 0-5 SEC) Friday in front of an Auburn Arena crowd of 4,626. The Gators posted a 197.50 while the Tigers turned in a season-best 196.875.

There were some changes in the lineup Friday as the Gator coaching staff wanted to give some gymnasts a break and also wanted to see how other routines would score. Florida coach Rhonda Faehn liked what she saw Friday.

“I was very pleased with the team's performance tonight. It was wonderful to see everyone compete so aggressively and confidently, especially knowing that we changed up the lineups quite a bit, especially on floor. They all responded really well,” Faehn said. “They just did a great job overall.

Only one Gator competed as an all-arounder Friday and that gymnast picked up the win. Florida sophomore All-American Alaina Johnson picked up her first all-around title of 2012 and the fourth of her career with a Gator season-high total of 39.625.

The Gators opened Friday's meet with a strong set on the uneven bars. Florida was 6-for-6 for stuck landings (7-for-7counting the exhibition performer) as the Gators tallied a 49.40 for their third-highest bars total of the season. Florida's last half of the lineup all turned in marks of 9.90 or better. Sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto picked up a share of her fourth consecutive bar win with her mark of 9.925. Auburn's llyson Sandusky and Kylie Shields also shared the bar title at 9.925. Marissa King and Alaina Johnson also posted 9.90s.

On vault, the Gators turned in a season-best 49.575, which also stands as the second-highest vault total in school history. Four Gators posted marks of 9.90 or better, led by collegiate-best mark of 9.95 from UF's final two vaulters Johnson and Kytra Hunter. The vault win is the second consecutive for Johnson and the second of the season for Hunter. Junior Ashanée Dickerson took third with her season-best 9.925 while Nicole Ellis also turned in a season-best of 9.90.

Florida's floor lineup had some new faces as the Gator coaches decided to hold out a pair of floor All-Americans — Dickerson and King — as well as Hunter (currently ranked No. 3 nationally on the event) to give them a well-deserved break from the event. The Gators turned in a 49.05 and were led by Johnson's 9.875, which tied for second overall with AU's Toi Garcia. Senior Amy Ferguson opened up the floor set with a 9.85. The evening's floor title was claimed by AU's Brianna Guy at 9.90.

Balance beam was the Gators' finishing event as the team matched their season-best total of 49.475, which ties for the eighth-best in school history. King anchored the set by matching her collegiate-best of 9.95 for the second time this season. The mark gave King her fourth beam win of 2012 and she shared the title with AU's Guy. Johnson's set her collegiate beam best of 9.90 Friday to take third.

Florida now returns home to face No. 4 Georgia next Friday. Meet time is set for 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

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