Link to Pink meet special for McMurtry, Gators


Florida's Alex McMurtry competes on the beam during a meet against Kentucky at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

(Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun)
Published: Friday, January 27, 2017 at 6:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 10:34 p.m.

Tonight the No. 3 Florida gymnastics team hosts its annual Link to Pink meet in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

Facts

Today

Who:
No. 16 Auburn vs. No. 3 Florida

When: 6:45 p.m.

Where: Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center

Auburn, ranked No. 16, will be the opponent, but the real opposition for what has become one of UF's fan-favorite events is breast cancer.

“It's always special,” said junior standout Alex McMurtry, who will be experiencing her third Link to Pink meet.

“We have a lot more fans, and we've actually had teammates' moms and family members going through that struggle every year. Seeing them in the crowd and seeing all the pink everywhere, it's a special meet because of who we bring together.”

This will be UF's 11th Link to Pink meet, with 3,000 pink T-shirts to be distributed among fans.

McMurtry is coming off wins in all three of her events last week, where Florida (3-0) posted its third straight team score above 197 in defeating North Carolina.

She was selected as the SEC Specialist of the Week, the sixth such honor of her career.

“I think it was a great week for me and for the team,” McMurtry said. “It was a meet we'll never forget. It was great seeing other people in the lineups, and I had one of my best meets so far.”

McMurtry, who anchored all three events, opened by winning the uneven bars title for the third straight meet with a 9.90 mark, then followed with a season-best 9.95 on vault.

She closed out her evening with another 9.95, this one tying her collegiate-best on the balance beam.

“Alex came into this year very motivated,” UF coach Jenny Rowland said. “She has an extra will and a lot of desire.”

McMurtry recorded a perfect score on the vault as a freshman in just her second collegiate meet, becoming the quickest Gator to score a 10 in program history. Last year, she became the only gymnast in the nation to record multiple 10s on the uneven bars. In addition, she recorded a 9.90 against LSU in her first floor exercise, equaling UF's highest score in a floor debut.

McMurtry has won 29 event titles (14 vault, nine uneven bars, six balance beam) thus far, all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in the classroom.

“We're competing for so much more than just ourselves,” McMurtry said. “Seeing people have the strength to be there is special when we're just doing gymnastics. They're fighting a much bigger battle than we are.”

Auburn stands 0-3, with all of the losses coming against ranked opponents. Action starts at 6:45 p.m.

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