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gymnastics-women-nc flag | February 1, 2014

No. 2 Gators top No. 1 Sooners in national championship rematch

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Hype surrounded No. 2 Florida’s meet with No. 1 Oklahoma in the O’Connell Center Friday night.

After all, these teams have some recent history.

The Gators surpassed the Sooners in last year’s NCAA championship by a margin of .200 for the title. In their rematch Friday, all eyes were on Florida to see what the Gators could do to keep the bar high.

How's this? The Gators remained unbeaten with four wins under wraps after dropping the Sooners 197.875-197.225 in front of a crowd of 7,260 — the 14th-largest in program history.

Needless to say, the momentum the Gators came into the with meet with -- Kytra Hunter and Bridget Sloan grabbed perfect 10s on the floor against Georgia last week -- fueled Florida against Oklahoma.

How could it not with how loud the crowd got when the Gators’ dynamic duo stepped up for the floor routine and Hunter grabbed her second consecutive 10?

Hunter’s top score has her shattering program records, now the first Gator to get two 10s on the floor and the first Florida gymnast to post perfect scores in consecutive performances since Susan Hines in 1998’s NCAA semifinal and Super Six rounds.

Sloan may not have grabbed another 10 on floor, but she dominated three out of the four events.

The sophomore scored a 9.90 on bars, a 9.95 on beam and a 9.95 on vault for an all-around score of 39.750.

With Sloan and Hunter leading the way, the rest of the Gators are thriving off each competition.

Friday's victory showed how good the Gators are when everyone is performing at a high level. The victory over the No. 1-ranked Sooners mean when the new poll is released, the Gators will take over the top spot.

No. 3 LSU 197.650, No. 7 Alabama 196.825

BATON ROUGE -- Lloimincia Hall scored a perfect 10.0 on the floor exercise in the meet's final routine, as the third-ranked LSU defeated seventh-ranked Alabama in front of the second-largest crowd in school history, 8,055, on Friday night at the Maravich Center.

Led by a 1-2 finish in the all-around by Rheagan Courville (39.500) and Jessie Jordan (39.450, LSU (3-1, 2-1 SEC) never trailed in the meet.

No. 4 Michigan 196.800, Michigan State 193.900

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In front of nearly 3,000 fans in the program's first Autism Awareness Meet, Michigan downed in-state rival Michigan State, 196.800-193.900, on Friday night inside Crisler Center. Senior Joanna Sampson set career highs on uneven bars (9.975) and balance beam (9.925) while tying a career best in the all-around (39.650) for the third time.

The Wolverines started strong once again on vault, scoring 49.300. Sophomore Austin Sheppard executed a dynamic Yurchenko full with a clean stick to score a career-high 9.975. Sampson tied for second, also sticking her Yurchenko full but was deducted slightly for coming in with a low chest on the landing. Junior Sachi Sugiyama scored a 9.850 in the third spot, getting big distance on her Yurchenko 1.5 with a step on the landing. Freshman Talia Chiarelli and fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein were the other counted scores in the rotation at 9.825 and 9.775, respectively.

Michigan's best rotation of the night came on uneven bars, as all six gymnasts hit routines with scores of 9.800-or-better to score 49.475. Like Sheppard on vault, Sampson scored a 9.975 on the apparatus thanks to a big Tkatchev release and even bigger double layout dismount, which she stuck clean. She was followed up in the anchor spot by Beilstein, who hit her Geinger release and stuck the dismount to score a 9.925. Senior Shelby Gies and freshman Nicole Artz each scored 9.875s, while the fifth counted score came from Sugiyama in the leadoff spot (9.825). At the halfway point, Michigan had a big lead over Michigan State, leading 98.775-96.825.

The Wolverines had some early miscues on floor exercise which led to a below-average score of 48.900 to close down the meet. The highest score in the first three routines was a 9.775 from Chiarelli, but the last three gymnasts up were able to recover nicely, as Artz and Sampson each scored 9.875s, while Zakharia received a 9.825.

No. 9 UCLA 196.575, No. 22 California 195.550

BERKELEY, Calif. -- UCLA bounced back after a disappointing performance a week ago, defeating California 196.575-195.550. The Bruins clinched the meet in the final rotation, scoring a season-high 49.050 on beam. Senior Olivia Courtney secured the win with a season-high 9.875 on beam on the team's last routine and won the all-around with a score of 39.425.

The Bruins started the meet by scoring a season-best 49.3 on uneven bars, led by Hallie Mossett's career-high 9.9. Courtney contributed a 9.875, and Sydney Sawa and Sophina DeJesus each scored 9.85.

Moving on to vault in the next rotation, the Bruins scored 49.15 thanks to Courtney's meet-high 9.9, Sawa's 9.875 on a stuck vault, and a 9.85 from Sadiqua Bynum. Armed with a 98.450-97.925 lead at the halfway mark, the Bruins held serve by scoring 49.025 on floor to Cal's 49.000 on beam. Two out-of-bounds penalties and some short landings hurt the Bruins' final score, but they received a meet-high 9.925 from Sawa and 9.9 from Angi Cipra to keep them ahead.

Leading 147.525-146.975 going into the last event, UCLA finished on beam, which has been its nemesis this season. The Bruins started the rotation with two strong routines, each going for a career-high. Ellette Craddock led off with a 9.825, followed by Mossett's 9.875. After DeJesus earned a season-best 9.775, Cipra had a fall on a side aerial but an otherwise good routine, scoring 9.3, and Danusia Francis was dinged on start value for breaking the connection on her sideways side aerial to full-twisting dismount, scoring 9.7. With California posting strong scores on floor, Courtney's came up in the anchor position needing to hit her routine, and she did just that, sticking her double back dismount to score 9.875 and secure the win for the Bruins.