It’s finally 2020, which means the end of a decade of excellence for the Florida Gator Gymnastics team. In celebration of the decade where the Gators earned three national championships and countless other titles, we wanted to put together a “best of” team for the 2010s. But there are so many gymnasts to choose from – there had to be parameters set. To make this the most realistic team possible, we selected the best team of gymnasts using only 12 scholarship athletes, a stipulation each year’s actual squad must adhere to, and aimed to create the highest possible team total, using the most consistent and high-scoring athletes on each apparatus. In alphabetical order, here is your All-Decade Florida Gymnastics team!
Often hailed as one of the most entertaining performers to ever grace the O-Dome, Baker was a powerhouse tumbler, an electric entertainer, and a well-rounded leader that made her a force to be reckoned with. All three years she finished healthy, she ranked in the top ten on floor, earning a perfect 10.0 during each of those seasons. She performed what is arguably the most difficult tumbling pass ever competed by a Gator – a piked double arabian that might as well have been a layout on many occasions. With three individual SEC titles, 11 All-American honors, and the 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year crown, Baker absolutely belongs on this list. While she competed all four events and earned the SEC AA crown as a sophomore, we’d use Baker on vault and floor with this all-star team.
Though she’s only a junior, Alyssa Baumann has already made a name for herself in Florida history as one of the best, especially on beam. She’s the only Florida athlete with three 9.975 marks on the apparatus, and she’s the first Gator since Elfi Schlegel (’86) to earn two conference championships on beam. She’s also a three-time All-American and two-time All-SEC honoree, and this year promises to bring more accolades as she aims to compete in the all-around this season. Her teammates call her the “Ice Queen,” because of how cool and calm she stays on beam, never letting the pressure affect her. She trains several different compositions for her beam routine, and in her freshman season, she once got so lost in her focus that she threw all of the difficult elements she’d been working on all into one routine! We’d love to see her anchor this beam lineup with her most complex and icy routine.
The most recent addition to the wall of national champions in the training gym at Florida, Boren was the picture of dependability throughout her time as a Gator. During her four years at Florida, she hit every single floor routine she competed and only missed one bar routine. Couple that consistency with her high scoring potential – she has a career high of 9.95 or better on every event – and it’s easy to see why she competed in the all-around every single week since her second meet as a Gator. Boren holds 18 All-American honors, 3 All-SEC nods, and the No. 10 slot in the ranking for career all-around wins for a Gator, so though she’s new to the Wall of Fame, she can absolutely hang with the best. We’d love to see her lead off the bars and beam lineups, because of her consistency, and feature on floor as well.
Though some have complained about overscoring, it’s hard to argue with the results Bridgette Caquatto produced in her four years as a Gator. With eight floor scores and seven bars scores at 9.95 or higher, Caquatto has incredibly high scoring potential. She’s also a seven-time All-American and a member of all three national championship-winning teams. Though she doesn’t make our top six on either bars or floor as they stand now, she could easily slot into either lineup if she were needed and provides great depth for this all-decade team – a blessing the Gators have always used to their advantage.
An elegant technician, Mackenzie Caquatto was known for her effortless bars and clean beam routines. She’s a nine-time All-American, with all of her honors coming from just those two events. Mackenzie also earned a perfect score on bars, one of only six Gators in history to do so. She’s a two-time All-SEC honoree and a two-time regional bar champion, and while event finals were still a thing, she qualified to both the bars and beam finals in her junior and senior years. Though she may not have all the accolades that some of her classmates enjoyed, she still stands out as one of the best of the decade on these two events, so we’d put her in the lineup in a heartbeat.
From the moment she stepped into the gym in Gainesville, Dickerson proved she would be something special for the Florida gymnastics program. Scoring a 39.350 (out of 40) in the first meet of her career was only the beginning. She would go on to earn SEC Freshman of the Year, and during her career racked up 16 AA titles, 11 All-American honors, and 9 individual regional titles. She also led the team to its first national championship win where she contributed a huge 9.9 on floor, and never missed a single vault or floor routine. For that reason, we would have her in both the vault and floor lineups.
When you talk about accolades in Florida Gymnastics, it’s hard to not bring up the name Kytra Hunter. Two Honda Awards (think Heisman Trophy of gymnastics), 25 All-American honors, six individual regional titles, seven individual conference championships, four individual national titles, three national team championships, SEC Freshman of the Year and Gymnast of the Year awards – the list goes on and on. Hunter owns perfect 10.0s on both vault and floor and actually holds the school record for most perfect 10.0s in a season: she earned a whopping six perfect scores in 2014. But what the statistics don’t tell you is just how fun she is to watch. She engaged the crowd like no other and had a unique skill vocabulary that she used to its fullest extent, putting together tumbling passes like the back 1.5 twist to front layout to a flying front handspring to a Shushunova she used in her junior season. Her signature move on floor was the worm, and she had power in her tumbling that very few can rival, showing off an open position in her double tuck that she frequently used to close out her routine. There’s no version of an all-decade team that doesn’t include Hunter on vault and floor.
Though she doesn’t own any of the 41 perfect scores attributed to the Gators, Alaina Johnson holds a different high honor – the highest all-around score ever recorded for a Florida gymnast. A huge 39.825 speaks to the well-rounded, quality gymnastics she produced during her time as a Gator, as do the 16 All-America honors, the six regional titles, and the SEC Freshman of the Year award that she won. While she may not fit into the top six in any of the lineups we’ve set, Johnson absolutely belongs on this team, and could slot into the first half of any of the four lineups. We consider her a jack-of-all-trades alternate for this team.
International recruiting has been a staple of the Florida program for decades, and King is a perfect example of the high-caliber athletes that Florida is capable of drawing. She represented Great Britain at both the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships before joining Florida in January of 2010, just in time for her freshman season to begin. With a unique skill set and huge difficulty, including a Tsuk 1.5 vault that earned her several All-American honor and a national vault title. Thanks to her high scoring potential and rankings in the Top 25 throughout her career, we’d love to see her in the vault, bars, and floor lineups.
Her story is one of determination – no matter the difficulty, Alex McMurtry persisted. Despite a back injury that limited her training time and repetitions more and more as her career progressed, she listened to her coaches and trainers, trusted her training, and was able to compete all-around in postseason in three of her four years at Florida. Earning the Honda Award, a berth in the NCAA Elite 90, 25 All-American honors, and an individual conference title for every single year she competed wasn’t enough, either. McMurtry is the record holder for most perfect 10.0s by a Florida gymnast, a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year (her degree is in Applied Physiology & Kinesiology – no big deal!), and the proud owner of a Gym Slam – a perfect score on every event over the course of her career. Earning a 10.0 was especially impressive on bars, considering she learned her single-bar release, a Ray, while she was in college! With everything she brought to the table, from the most difficult vault in the country to the leadership she showed in the gym, it’s impossible to make this team without McMurtry. We’d love to see her in all four events in our all-decade lineup, but in the spirit of realism, we’d keep her out of floor until postseason.
No All-Decade list would be complete without mentioning the greatest Gator gymnast to ever chomp, Bridget Sloan. She won almost every award imaginable – SEC Freshman of the Year, two Honda Awards, 31 All-American honors, the Gym Slam, you name it – even after competing in two Olympic cycles of elite gymnastics, highlighted by an Olympic and a World team silver and a World all-around gold. Sloan’s energy was contagious; it spread from her to her team, and from the team to the audience. Her power and focus were palpable every time it was her turn to compete, and even when she was injured, she still fought tooth and nail to compete for her team. She absolutely belongs on each event in our all-decade lineup.
The youngest competitor on this list, Trinity Thomas became an instant sensation the moment she hit Gainesville. With a rare match of power and precision, her freshman season was one for the books as she earned SEC Freshman of the Year, 5 All-American honors, and an individual berth to nationals when Florida’s national quest ended abruptly. She may not have any perfect 10.0s to her name yet, but as just a sophomore, at the time of writing, she’s earned a whopping ten 9.975s. If she keeps going the way she’s been going, Thomas will easily earn her place among the Gator greats featured on this list. We fully expect she’ll continue to earn her place in the bars, beam, and floor lineups on this team.
So here’s the lineups as we would set them with this absolute all-star team.
Alternates: Alaina Johnson and Bridgette Caquatto
Of course, these aren’t the only Gators who have brought the team success in the last ten years. We had some close ones here, so it definitely wasn’t an easy decision. Anyone you loved this decade that wasn’t included here? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter!