Top-ranked Florida nips No. 4 UCLA to open 2014 season with road win
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The preseason top-ranked Florida gymnastics team claimed a win by the narrowest margin possible – 0.025 – at No. 4 UCLA in the season opener for both teams held in front of Pauley Pavilion crowd of 5,265. The Gators’ total of 196.65 put a fraction in Florida’s favor as the Bruins posted a total of 196.625.
In the all-time four regular-season meetings between the two teams in Pauley Pavilion, Saturday was the first Gator win in the Bruins’ home arena. This was the second Pauley Pavilion appearance for the Gators in as many meets, as Florida finished the 2013 season by winning the program’s first NCAA Championship in the arena last April.
It was evident that it was first meet of the season for both teams as some routines were missing the polish that comes with more competitions. Florida had a fall on three of the four events, but none of those misses were computed into the final team total. The Gators owned a three-tenths lead heading into the final rotation. The Bruins turned in their highest event total of the evening, 49.375, on floor exercise but Florida finished with just enough, 49.10, on balance beam to take the win.
Notes: Florida opened the season with three all-arounders (Mackenzie Caquatto, Bridget Sloan and Kytra Hunter)…the Gators last had three all-arounders in a season-opener in 2012, taking the top three spots in a dual at North Carolina State…two made their debuts in Florida’s competitive lineups Saturday – sophomore Bridgette Caquatto made her first appearance among UF’s six vault competitors and freshman Claire Boyce was part of the balance beam and floor exercise lineups…the Gators turned in the third-highest season-opening total in school history (behind 2008’s total of 197.125 and 196.925 in 2011…Hunter collects her second season opening all-around win tonight, as she also won the title in her collegiate debut in 2012…Sloan’s runner-up vault mark of 9.925 was just off her collegiate-best of 9.95, which she last earned in the 2013 NCAA Super Six team final…Florida has edged UCLA by a 0.025 margin in two of the last three meetings between the two teams – UF used the same margin to take second over UCLA at the 2012 NCAA Championships Super Six team final…in the nine all-time regular season meetings between these two programs, tonight’s result was the second decided by 0.025…the Bruins edged Florida by the slimmest margin allowed in the sport in their last regular-season visit to Gainesville for the 2004 regular-season finale (198.25-198.225).