DULUTH, Ga. — Kytra Hunter’s acheivment on Friday night didn’t register on her face because the magnitude of it hadn’t sunk in. Her calm demeanor has come to define her and Florida would not have it any other way.
The 5-foot-1 freshman phenom finished first in vault, first in floor and became only the ninth freshman to win the all-around.
She helped Florida take second place in the second session — just behind a stellar performance from Alabama and just ahead of Arkansas. With those three in the Saturday’s Super Six it sets up an SEC vs. Pac 12 showdown with UCLA, Stanford and Utah earning spots in the first session.
When told of Hunter’s non-reaction reaction Florida coach Rhonda Faehn was not at all surprised. She’s watched Hunter all season and in practice and it was wholly within character.
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“I always say she’s all business,” Faehn said. “That’s just how she trains. She is a perfectionist. She’s not happy if she makes a mistake in practice. She’ll repeat over and over and over again (until she gets it right). It’s that work ethic and that mentality that the results speak for themselves.”
The results have reflected what many already know: Hunter is all-around awesome. She started her collegiate career with three consecutive all-around wins and matched teammate Ashanée Dickerson (2010) as the only Gators to take all-around wins in the first three meets since 1987. Then, she won the SEC titles in all-around (39.625) and vault (9.975) was selected All-SEC first team and SEC Freshman of the Year.
She won the floor exercise at the NCAA Raleigh Regional and has a team-high 19 event titles (seven floor exercise, five all-around, four vault, two balance beam and one uneven bars).
“Of course this is beyond what I’d thought,” Hunter said. “My goals? I didn’t have many goals. My goal was to come out here and do what I’d been doing in practice. And in practice, I’ve been training like I wanted to compete. I’ve been treating each practice and each event like it’s a competition to me.
“I think we’ve all been doing that. Putting each other under pressure sets. And also our coaches have been great preparing us.”
That preparation paid off with a championship performance, and certainly worthy a smile from Hunter, right? Keep looking. There is still work to be done.
“Nothing’s hit me at all,” Hunter said. “I put that at the back of my head. Tomorrow’s a new day. It’s a new meet and I am just excited to be at Super Six with my team.”
Thanks to Hunter and her 9.975 on the vault (which was tied with Georgia’s Kat Ding), her 9.950 in the floor exercise which helped her get a 39.725 score in the all-around.
“It doesn’t mean a thing to me,” Hunter said. “I’m just happy I’m with a great school, a great family with me. Advancing to the Super Six is all I could ask for.
“I know a couple of us were disappointed about how we finished on the floor (two routines went out of bounds), but it’s fine. This is the day for the mistakes. I think tomorrow we’re going to be on top.”
All eyes will surely be on Hunter and she knows that. As matter of fact as she approached Friday, she is also pragmatic about Florida’s chances of winning the title.
“There’s no secret,” Hunter said. “Tomorrow’s just a challenge for every team. Every team is going to be tired. I think whoever fights the hardest on every event is going to be the winning team tomorrow.”