UF's Hunter wins vault title


Florida freshman Kytra Hunter poses next to an NCAA national champion sign in Duluth, Ga., on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the UAA)

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 11:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 11:38 p.m.

DULUTH, Ga. — Florida's standout freshman Kytra Hunter will take home the vault individual championship in addition to her NCAA all-around title.

Because vault was the first event of the night, Hunter knew she would taking home an individual title early. Though she did go in the 10th and final spot in the competition, she was able to take first with an averaged score of 9.875.

“For her to have the success she had as a freshman, I'm so happy for her, but I know that there are so many great things still to come because of her dedication and her goals and her passion,” said head coach Rhonda Faehn. “She just loves gymnastics, and she loves being apart of this program.”

In the vault competition, each gymnast goes twice and performs two different vaults. The two scores from the vaults are then averaged for a final vault score.

“I don't think it was any harder,” Hunter said. “I just went in there and did what I've been doing in practice. In practice, we've been doing a lot of sticking, not just on vault, but on other things, and I think that showed even in day one and day two of our competition.”

On vault, Marrisa King also competed for an individual title. King went fifth overall and ended in fifth place with a 9.7875.

Another two gymnasts competed for Florida on the uneven bars. Mackenzie Caquatto went sixth in the lineup and got a 9.825, tying for sixth place. Alaina Johnson finished up the bars competition and had trouble with her routine, wobbling on handstands and a misstep on her landing. She got a 9.4875 and took last place.

“The release move that Alaina does is so difficult,” Faehn said. “It's all timing, and when you're a little bit short, like she was on her first handstand, it sent her a little too far. She just didn't sit up quite quick enough. I give her credit for fighting through the routine.”

The winner on the uneven bars was Georgia's Kat Ding, defending her bars title from last year, when she got a perfect 10 from four of the six judges. The other two judges gave her a 9.95, and so her average was a 9.9875.

“Oh well,” was what she said about just missing the perfect 10.

Ashanee Dickerson and Hunter competed on the floor exercise. Dickerson, with a 9.9, tied at sixth place. Hunter got a 9.925, the same score as she did Saturday in the Super Six. She was surpassed by UCLA's Elsye Hopfner-Hibbs and Alabama's Geralen Stack-Eaton, who each got a 9.9375. All three gymnasts fell to Ding, who ended with a score of 9.95.

None of Florida's gymnasts competed on the balance beam. Stack-Eaton was the fourth beam competitor to go and took the lead with her 9.9375 and was able to keep it through the last eight competitors.

“It's kind of ironic that I won on beam because I've struggled a lot this season on beam, and today was just going up there and putting it all on the floor,” Stack-Eaton said.

All four individual event champions were from the SEC: Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Additionally, during the Super Six, all the all-around champions also came from the SEC.

“I don't think it's a coincidence that these three young ladies are sitting up here, and I don't think it's a coincidence that the all-around title, I looked up on the podium last night and I think it was seven deep all the way through,” said Georgia head coach Jay Clark. “The Southeastern Conference was the only representation on the all-around. I hope that's not interpreted as bragging, but we are proud of our conference, and I don't think we need to apologize for that.”

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