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April 21, 2013

Gators overcome early struggles to rally past Sooners

LOS ANGELES — The second-ranked Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team was saddled with second place after a late rally by top-ranked Florida in NCAA Women’s gymnastics final.

“Before we went out we said no regrets, and in the end there wasn’t one more toe we could point, there wasn’t one more landing we could stick,” said OU head coach K.J. Kindler. “We did everything in our power to do the best we could. They laid their hearts out there.”

The Gators opened about as poorly as possible, with two athletes falling off the beam to put the Gators in last place after the first rotation.

Rather than let the dismal start dash their championship hopes, the Gators responded with a big comeback. A strong performance on the floor began the rally, and Florida pulled ahead during the final rotation to win its first title Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

“It was not an ideal opening to the competition, but what I loved was this team rallied and didn’t let that affect them,” Gators coach Rhona Faehn said as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I really think it’s representative of their desire and passion and their never give up attitude. After beam they could’ve laid down and said we’re done, and they did not let that happen”

The Gators got the comeback going by scoring a 49.725 on the floor — highlighted by four scored at least 9.95 — and following up with a 49.500 on vault, the highest scores in those events. They scored a 49.475 in the bars in the final rotation to finish with 197.575.

Oklahoma finished at 197.375, and two-time defending champion Alabama was third at 197.350. Host UCLA was fourth at 197.100, followed by LSU at 197.050 and Georgia at 196.675.

Oklahoma went to the floor and scored a 49.400 to close out the night, but Florida’s performance on bars sealed the Gators’ win.

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