Hunter's 10 extends Gators' perfect score streak

Florida gymnast Kytra Hunter celebrates with Marissa King after scoring a perfect 10 on the vault against the Arkansas at the O'Connell Center on Friday.

Matt Stamey / Staff photographer
Published: Friday, February 14, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 at 11:36 p.m.

Are you serious?

For the fourth consecutive meet this year, a Florida gymnast recorded a perfect score, and for the sixth consecutive meet, the Gators walked away with a victory.

Behind junior All-American Kytra Hunter's 10 on the vault, UF's opening event, the top-ranked Gators (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) led wire-to-wire in posting a 197.525-196-025 win over No. 11 Arkansas (3-4, 1-4) Friday evening before an O'Connell Center crowd of 6,124.

With her third 10 of the year (two on floor exercise), Hunter, who did not train all week because of stomach flu symptoms, joined ex-Gator great Susan Hines as the only UF athletes in program history to record three 10s in one season while also joining current teammate and sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan as the only Gators to register 10s in multiple events.

Hunter and Sloan have now combined for five 10s this year, a single-season UF record.

“It was definitely exciting,” Hunter said. “I was speechless. I have been really practicing my stick landings on vault, so I'm glad I got to go out there and finally get my first stick of the season and finally get a 10. It's funny because vault and floor are my two favorite events.”

Hunter's vault capped a season-high team mark of 49.50 in the event for Florida, and the Gators followed that up with another season-high of 49.525 on the uneven bars to take a commanding lead halfway through the meet.

Despite a season-low 49.0 on the balance beam, UF rebounded with a 49.50 on floor to cap the win.

“Beam was a little bit shaky, which is uncharacteristic because it's one of our best events,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “What I did like was you could see that they were fighting through everything, and that we didn't end up having to count a fall. That was really nice to see because they're not going to be exceptionally perfect all the time.”

UF's dominance was clear at the end of the night as Gators won every title, led by Sloan's winning all-around mark of 39.75 that tied her collegiate-best in a battle of the nation's top two all-around gymnasts. Arkansas senior All-American Katherine Grable, who was ranked No. 2 behind Sloan coming in, placed second with a mark of 39.575.

“I think tonight was one of those nights when I was just very relaxed,” Sloan said. “I definitely did not have a perfect meet, but at the same time it was a great meet. As a team, I thought we really pulled it together.”

In addition, Hunter, who did not compete in the all-around for the first time this season, won the vault title, senior All-Americans Mackenzie Caquatto and Alaina Johnson shared the top spot on bars with matching 9.95s that tied each athlete's season-high, and Sloan captured the beam (9.90) and floor titles, the latter with a 9.975.

“We were able to rest Kytra from floor because she was out all week with the stomach flu,” Faehn said. “It was nice to give her that rest and for everyone else to really step up.

“Alaina, it was only her second routine of the year and it was just gorgeous, and I thought was really promising and just nice to see, and Bridget did another phenomenal routine.”

Faehn noted she continues to be pleased with how the Gators are rounding into form.

“It's a good place to be, because we do know when we're firing on all cylinders and we have everyone in our lineup set, it's going to be really magical,” she said.

UF will return to the O'Dome for the popular Link to Pink meet in honor of breast cancer awareness next Friday at 7 against No. 3 LSU.

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