Florida beats Kentucky in battle of Top 6 teams

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Florida gymnast Rachel Gowey used a 9.825 Friday to win her first collegiate uneven bars title at Kentucky. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File]

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the meeting of collegiate gymnastics teams ranked No. 6, it was Florida with the win Friday, 196.325 – 195.95, over Kentucky in front of a Memorial Coliseum crowd of 5,549.

The Gators trailed by 0.15 after the opening rotation, but owned more than a point lead at the midway point. That lead narrowed to a point after the third rotation. The final rotation was a bit uncomfortable, as the Gators had a fall at the beginning and end of the beam lineup, but the Wildcats could not close the gap.

“It wasn’t a perfect night,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. “We made a lot of improvements in different areas from our first road meet. We worked better together as a team, the energy was fantastic. The Gators were really having a good time and that did show in a lot of ways.

“Our performance on vault was much better this week. We had a great floor performance. Bars was OK – a few missed opportunities here and there. Beam was a missed opportunity. It was good to see that after Kennedy (Baker) fell during the first routine, we had a freshman (Megan Skaggs) come up second and she nailed her routine. The team was able to keep their confidence up and keep moving through most of the lineup.” 

Florida’s two Rachels claimed the first two event titles. Sophomore Rachel Gowey used a 9.825 to win her first collegiate uneven bars title. Then senior All-American Rachel Slocum used the Gators’ season-high of 9.925 to claim a share of her first vault title of 2018.

Senior All-American Kennedy Baker led Florida (2-1, 1-1 SEC) on floor exercise to tie for second at 9.90. Gowey collected her second event win of the evening, sharing the beam title at 9.90.

Kentucky (4-1, 1-1 SEC) sophomore Mollie Korth took the all-around at 39.50 and shared the vault win with Slocum (9.925). UK’s Sidney Dukes won floor at 9.95 and shared the beam with teammate Alex Hyland and Gowey at 9.90.

Up next: Winners of the last five NCAA championships meet next Friday in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center where Florida (NCAA champ: 2013, 2014, 2015) plays host to Oklahoma (NCAA champ: 2014, 2016, 2017). The meet begins at 6:45 p.m.