The third ranked Gator gymnastics team opened up its season with a win in Gainesville Friday over Ball State University in front of a crowd of 3,768 fans. Much anticipation was centered around freshman Bridget Sloan, who made her collegiate debut last night, but she is no stranger to competing in front of an audience. Sloan was the youngest member of the 2008 Beijing Olympic silver medal winning gymnastics squad. She talks about her first collegiate meet compared to her elite gymnastics experience.
The crowd was also excited to welcome back senior Ashanée Dickerson and 2012 NCAA All-Around and Vault champion sophomore Kytra Hunter, who both posted scores of 9.90 or above out of 10 in their season debut. Marking her tenth year as head coach of the Gators, Rhonda Faehn says that while there is much to be proud of from the team’s performance, there is also a lot to work on.
A Gator who was happy to finally be in the starting lineup was a healthy junior All-American Mackenzie Caquatto, who had been injured in the previous two season openers. Faehn says the fact that Caquatto not only competed, but did well, was an important moment in the meet.
The Gators came in second place last year in the NCAA Championship, edged just by just .075 points behind Alabama. Dickerson says that coming in second motivated the team to work harder to win the championship this year.
Florida finished the night with a final score of 196.575, outperforming Ball State on every apparatus. The Cardinals posted a 190.550. This was the third highest season opener in Gators history, which is a promising start after a long offseason. Hunter says the coaches did a good job of making sure the team was ready to compete.
The Gators go on the road next week to face eighth ranked LSU in their Southeastern Conference opener. The meet is scheduled to start at 8pm ET in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.