ATHENS, Ga. – The nation’s top team and all-around totals helped the No. 1 Florida Gators (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) to a dual meet win against No. 4 Georgia (6-3, 2-2 SEC) Saturday afternoon in front of a sell-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 9,794.
The Gators upped their season-best team total for the third consecutive week, as they posted the fifth-highest total in school history of 197.725 to take the win. Georgia turned in its third-highest total of 2011 Saturday at 196.60.
Wins in Athens are rare, as the Gators last claimed a win in Stegeman Coliseum in 2005. Prior to the 2005 win, the Gators last took a dual meet win in the GymDogs’ home arena in 1983.
Florida’s trio of Alaina Johnson, Ashanée Dickerson and Mackenzie Caquatto claimed at least a share of the top three all-around places Saturday. Johnson, who set the nation’s top total of 39.60 with her performance in the Jan. 28 Gators Link to Pink meet, raised that mark to 39.675 to claim her second all-around win as a Gator.
One hundred Gator fans clad in neon orange t-shirts cheered Florida Saturday. Among that group were more than 35 friends and family members of Johnson, some who had never seen her compete at any point of her gymnastics career. They picked a good time to see her in action, as her all-around total ties for the seventh highest ever among UF’s all-around performances.
“A lot of my family actually came to the meet,” Johnson said. “I think that pumped me up more and got me going. But I still needed to stay focused and do what I know how to do. I went out there and did my best.”
Dickerson was second in the all-around with a season-best total of 39.575 while Caquatto shared third at 39.475 with UGA senior Cassidy McComb.
A Gator took at least a share of every apparatus title Saturday. Johnson became the sixth Gator to earn a 9.975 on uneven bars in the program’s history. She shared the event title with UGA junior Kat Ding who also turned in a season-best on the event. The title is Johnson’s fourth bar win of her young collegiate career.
The Gators swept the vault with three sharing first at 9.90 – Maranda Smith, Dickerson and Johnson.
Florida turned in another strong performance on floor, as UF posted its eighth highest team total of 49.525. The final four Florida floor performers posted marks of 9.90 or higher. Dickerson anchored the lineup by matching her collegiate-best of 9.95 for the third time in 2011 and the fifth time of her career. The mark earned Dickerson her fourth floor win of 2011. Johnson matched her collegiate-best of 9.925 to share second on floor with UGA senior Hilary Mauro.
Dickerson shared her fourth balance beam win of 2011 with Mauro at 9.90.
Three Gators shared third on the event at 9.875 – Johnson, Randy Stageberg and Caquatto.
Sophomore All-American Marissa King sat out the beam and floor competitions as she suffered a bruised left arch in Thursday’s practice.
Coach Rhonda Faehn liked how the team didn’t let the King’s injury or the fact that they were on the road impact their performance Saturday.
“It was wonderful because everyone stepped up tonight. When we had our meeting before the competition, it was known Marissa wasn’t going to be in a couple of events today because of her bruised arch. Everyone just stepped up and said ‘We have your back’ and ‘We’re a team’,” Faehn said.
“They intended to go out there and stay together and they did just that right from the start of bars. They carried that momentum throughout the entire competition.
“What was really nice was that this team – which is extremely young – wasn’t rattled or distracted by everything that was going on. This team had fun,” she continued. “They just wanted to show their presentation and performance. I was proud of them today.”