FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 1 University of Florida (11-1, 5-1 SEC) saw its undefeated season end Friday with a 196.70-196.10 loss at No. T-15 Arkansas (5-3-, 5-1 SEC) Friday evening in front of a Barnill Arena crowd of 3,174.
Breaks in each of Florida’s first three events led to the meet being tied heading into the final rotation. The Gators needed a strong balance beam set to put themselves in position to challenge for the team title.
But the first beam falls of the collegiate careers of its two all-arounders (Alaina Johnson and Ashanée Dickerson) forced the Gators to count a miss toward its team total for the first time this season.
The Gators’ beam total of 48.55 put them six-tenths behind the Razorbacks in the final team standings.
UF head coach Rhonda Faehn said she felt trouble was coming as she watched the team warm-up.
“It really started from the warm-up. I thought they did a really poor job there and they carried it over into the competition, unfortunately,” Faehn said. “They need to use this as a huge learning experience. I told them this is not the team that performed at Georgia a couple of weeks ago. The fact is, this was a completely different team out here tonight.
“We were extremely disappointed in the way so many of the athletes on the team just didn’t have focus tonight. They all just allowed it to happen,” she continued. “I didn’t see anyone stepping up to take a leadership role to get them on the right path – and that was really disappointing.”
This is the Gators’ second consecutive visit to Barnhill which ended in a loss. Florida also brought the No. 1 ranking into the 2009 meeting in Fayetteville, Ark., as the Razorbacks claimed the first win in the all-time series, 196.375-195.425.
Tonight’s win is the second home upset of a top-5 team for the Razorbacks this month, as they claimed a 195.775-195.40 win against then-No. 4 Georgia on Feb. 4.
The Gators had trouble throughout tonight’s competition. Florida opened the meet with a team total of 49.20 on the uneven bars, as a few of the Gator scores were held back by form breaks. Freshman Mackenzie Caquatto collected her third consecutive bars title at 9.925.
The Gators posted a 49.375 on the vault, as three Gators turned in marks of 9.90 or better. Dickerson shared her fourth vault title of the season with Arkansas junior Jaime Pisani at 9.925. Florida’s Maranda Smith and Alaina Johnson plus Arkansas’ Michelle Stout shared third overall at 9.90.
An out-of-bounds and a pair of low landings on final tumbling passes kept the Gators’ floor exercise team total below 49 points for only the second time this season. Dickerson led the Gators on the event with her 9.90 – her fifth floor mark of the season of 9.90 or better. She shared the meet title with UA’s Pisani.
Pisani won the all-around at 39.60, followed by Dickerson (38.95) and Johnson (38.575).
The UF-Arkansas meet airs tape-delayed on CSS (Gainesville/Ocala cable channel 259) on March 3 at 9 p.m.