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McMurtry blossoms into Gators' leader

ALEX MCMURTRY

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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