The #5-ranked University of Utah hosted the #1-ranked University of Florida tonight in Salt Lake City, a night that double as Senior Night, recognizing Kyndal Robarts (San Marcos, Texas), Jacquelyn Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Gael Mackie (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada). Florida seniors Maranda Smith and Nicole Ellis also received special mention on Senior Night.

FIRST ROTATION

Both teams started out incredibly strong, but Utah was behind from the start. A 49.275 on the Uneven Bars for Florida in the first rotation was led by a pair of 9.925s from freshman Mackenzie Caquatto and sophomore Alaina Johnson, with Elizabeth Mahlich adding a 9.900. Sophomore Ashanée Dickerson notched a 9.775 and both Marissa King and Nicole Ellis counted 9.750.

Over on the Vault, Utah was led in their 49.175 by senior Gael Mackie who nailed her landing for a 9.900. Nansy Damianova, the freshman from Montreal tallied a 9.850 while Stephanie McAllister and Mary Beth Lofgren both scored 9.825 and Lia Del Priore and Jacquelyn Johnson each scored 9.775.

SECOND ROTATION

When the teams flip-flopped apparatus, Florida ended up on the Vault and Utah the Uneven Bars.  Both teams had strong rotations, but again, Florida came out on top. In their 49.400 on the apparatus, the Gators were led by three scores of 9.900 from Ashanée Dickerson, Marissa King and Alaina Johnson. A 9.875 was posted by Maranda Smith while Nicole Ellis and Dali Lemezan both scored 9.825. The highlight was Marissa King’s departure from the all-too-common Yurchenko Layout-Full. King performed a Tsukahara, Laid-out with 1.5 twists. It was amazing.

Over on the Uneven Bars, the Utes were showing that they were not going down without a fight. Junior Stephanie McAllister was the top scorer for the Utes with a 9.925, backed up by Gael Mackie and Cortni Beers’ 9.875s. Jacquelyn Johnson posted a solid 9.800, followed by a 9.775 for Nansy Damianova and a 9.725 for Hailee Hanson, bringing the total on the Uneven Bars for Utah to a 49.250.

At the half way point, the Gators held onto their lead.

THIRD ROTATION

Rotation number three saw the University of Utah on the Balance Beam while the University of Florida took to the Floor Exercise. The Gators were strong on the Floor, but weren’t as clean as they could have been. The top score for the Gators on the Floor was Maranda Smith’s 9.850, followed by Randy Stageberg’s 9.825. Ashanée Dickerson, Amy Ferguson and Alaina Johnson produced a trio of 9.800s with Marissa King scoring 9.750. Florida tallied a 49.075 on the apparatus.

On the Balance Beam, the Utes pulled out a 49.175, rebounding strongly after Jacquelyn Johnson took a scary fall in the second position. Her alignment was off in her side-somi and she missed the beam with her lead leg and caught the beam with the shin of her second leg, sending her to the mat. Her 9.225 followed the lead-off score of 9.875 posted by Fumina Kobayashi. Kobayashi’s score was tied by junior Cortni Beers, with Corrie Lothrop posting a 9.850 and Mary Beth Lofgren notching a 9.750.

FINAL ROTATION

Florida to the Balance Beam, Utah to the Floor. The Gators showed why they are the top-ranked team in the country in the last rotation. They were fantastic, and solid. It cannot be easy to compete when Utah fans are 30 feet away from you and there are 15,558 of them (an NCAA attendance record). The Gators totalled a 49.250 on the beam to seal the win. Led by Ashanée Dickerson’s 9.875, Randy Stageberg, Mackenzie Caquatto and Marissa King each posted a 9.850. A 9.825 was awarded to Elizabeth Mahlich and a 9.800 to Alaina Johnson.

On the Floor, the Utes continued to make the crowd roar. The 49.150 posted here was led by Stephanie McAllister’s 9.875. Lia Del Priore and Gael Mackie each scored 9.850. Nansy Damianova scored a solid 9.800 (after stepping out of bounds on her final tumble) and both Jacquelyn Johnson and Mary Beth Lofgren scored 9.775 to close out the meet.

The Florida Gators took the win with 197.000 over Utah’s 196.750.

Florida is the team to beat. They are solid. They are talented. They perform well. They compete even better.

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