McMurtry blossoms into Gators' leader


When Alex McMurtry was 17 years old, she was competing in collegiate gymnastics meets, instead of going to prom.

Her decision to graduate high school a year early paid off when she became the quickest Gator to record a perfect 10.

In just her second collegiate competition, McMurtry scored a perfect 10 on the vault during her freshman year.

Now, two years later as a junior, the high standards haven't changed: McMurtry is one of two gymnasts in the country to have a perfect score in three different events in 2017. She's also the SEC gymnast of the year and the SEC scholar-athlete of the year.

But, what has changed is her level of confidence.

As a freshman, the Midlothian, VA native was so shy, she didn't even want to speak during practices, especially around stars like Bridget Sloan and Kytra Hunter.

Now a veteran, McMurtry is the leader of the third-ranked Florida team as it heads to the NCAA Championships.

"I didn't feel like I should even be here my freshman year," she said. "Just having such huge leaders like Kytra and Sloan -- becoming one of them, that's been the goal. Every season I've just built this confidence up, and now I feel like I'm even more excited to bring in the new freshmen and have little babies following us. I didn't think I'd be able to see this transformation, but here I am [in] junior year, having more fun at a competition than I would have ever imagined."

"She's a great role model, she's a great leader, and she's definitely one the team listens to and looks up to," head coach Jenny Rowland said. "She's a very approachable person, very humble and very easy to talk to. So I think she's great in that role as well."

McMurtry and UF will compete against a 12-team field at 8 p.m. Friday in St. Louis. To advance to the Super Six -- which Florida has done 14 times in program history -- they'll need a top three finish in their semifinal session.

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