The top ranked Gators gymnastics team (17-1, 5-1 SEC) will compete this weekend in Duluth, Ga. in the NCAA Championship. Florida looks to become the fifth team to win the national trophy. In the 30-year history of the NCAA Championships, only Alabama, UCLA, Georgia and Utah have claimed the team title.
The competition will start out with 12 teams and narrow to six on Friday after two NCAA Semifinal sessions. Florida will compete at 6pm on Friday in the evening session of the NCAA Championship Semifinal session. The evening semifinal will also include three other Southeastern Conference teams – Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia – along with Ohio State and Oregon State. Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn says the semifinal will seem very familiar.
The other six teams will compete in the first Semifinal starting at noon on Friday. It consists of three conference champions – Pacific 12 Conference champion UCLA, Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma and Big 10 champion Nebraska – along with LSU, Stanford and Utah.
The top three teams from each of Friday’s semifinal will advance to Saturday’s Super Six, where the NCAA team champion is determined. Florida has made 30 appearances in the NCAA Championship and nine appearances in the NCAA Super Six. In 1998, Florida recorded their top NCAA finish placing second.
To get to this point Florida claimed both the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Raleigh Regional team titles earlier this season. Faehn says the athletes need to focus and concentrate on what they know how to do.
Gators athletes to watch this weekend include Ashanee Dickerson, Alaina Johnson, Marissa King, and Kytra Hunter. Dickerson, a Junior, won the all-around in the regional competition, 39.65, which is her season best. Dickerson and sophomore Alina Johnson shared both the vault (9.95) and uneven bar titles (9.90). Junior Marissa King took the balance beam win (9.925) and freshman Kytra Hunter took her seventh floor exercise title with a 9.95. Hunter has turned in a 9.95 or better on floor five times this season.
Live scoring available at www.gatorzone.com