GAINESVILLE — These were not the faces of the defeated.
These smiles shouldn't accompany loss. These giggles shouldn't serve as the anthem of the vanquished. But on Friday night in Gainesville, following a 197.250-197.125 Florida loss to No. 1 LSU, they did.
Following their defeat, four UF gymnats, along with coach Jenny Rowland, didn't trudge to their post-match press conference, nor did they walk. They practically skipped.
Once seated in front of the room, seniors Kennedy Baker, Alex McMurtry and Rachel Slocum told jokes, lauhed and didn't care who saw. "Literally nothing matters," one of them sang. "It's only January 12th."
That was the attitude Rowland took when addressing the assembled reporters, noting the team has plenty of work to do, but there's still ample time to do it. Plus she said depsite the losing score, she saw imporvement compared to the team's season-opening win last week at West Virginia.
The improvement, she said, centered around the team's energy. She noticed her gymnasts wrapping their arms around each other between routines and staying engaged during their teammates' performances. The 9,661-fan sellout — the first of Rowland's three-year tensure as head coach — probably helped, too.
Still, she said energy aside, there's lots for the team to work on.
"Fixing the little things," she said.
The Gators were led by junior Alicia Boren, who placed second in the all-around to LSU's Myia Hambrick. Boren notched a 39.450.
McMurtry, who couldn't compete on floor because of lingering back issues and therefore didn't qualify for the all-around, led the Gators on vault (9.90) and bars (9.925). Sophomore Rachel Gowey won beam (9.950) and Baker tied with freshman Megan Skaggs for Florida's top floor score (9.925).
Baker's floor routine was one of the highlights of the night. It featrued, as she admitted following the meet, plenty of sass, including playing a whipping noise accompanied by a whipping motion where her teammates fell to the floor.
"I was just lit the whole routine," Baker said. "Seeing my teammates fall when I whipped them was just icing on the cake."
While the team was very clear about this part of the season having little impact on where it ends up, it has a week off before traveling to Lexington to face Kentucky next Friday at 7 p.m.