The second-ranked Florida gymnastics team is closing the regular season Friday night in a celebration for the senior class in the O’Dome at 7 p.m.
The careers of seniors Ashanée Dickerson, Marissa King, Dali Lemezan and Randy Stageberg will be celebrated in a post meet ceremony.
Dickerson, a Jacksonville native, is an eight-time All-American who can continuously be counted on by the Gators to produce a solid routine. Dickerson holds titles on every apparatus, with her collegiate bests including 9.95 on vault and bars and 9.975 on beam and floor. She also recorded her collegiate-best all-around score of 39.7 her freshman year. Dickerson’s goal for her senior season is to take home Florida’s first NCAA championship.
King, a seven-time All-American, hails from Cambridge, England, but has been happy to call Gainesville home for the past four years. Prior to coming to Florida, King competed for Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and competed on vault and balance beam in the 2009 World Championships. Since coming to Florida, King has found much success. King was the 2011 NCAA Vault Champion and holds may individual event titles, including the 9.95 she posted on floor last week in front of her parents, who saw her competing as a Gator for the first time. King’s collegiate bests include a 9.95 on vault, a 9.925 on bars, a 9.95 on beam, a near-perfect 9.975 on floor, and a 39.65 on all-around.
Lemezan originally hails from Bosnia, and her family relocated to the U.S. when she was five. Lemezan competes exclusively on vault, leading off the lineup every meet on the apparatus since her freshman season, where she set her collegiate-best of 9.90. In her sophomore season she tore her left anterior cruciate ligament in the NCAA semifinal vault, which has kept her from competing in the lineup since.
Stageberg came to Florida from Virginia and competes on vault, balance beam and floor. Prior to becoming a Gator, Stageberg earned a spot at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Stageberg has been in the leadoff position for balance beam all season, consistently being counted on to perform a great routine. Last week against Kentucky, Stageberg won her first collegiate balance beam title with her 9.875. Stageberg’s collegiate bests are 9.825 on vault, which she posted last week against Kentucky, and 9.9 on both balance beam and floor.
This is the sixth consecutive top 25 matchup for the Gators. Oklahoma took over the No. 1 spot in the rankings after Florida’s 196.975-196.075 win against Kentucky last week, when they were forced to count a fall on the beam into their total score. Gator coach Rhonda Faehn says that one of the problems from the last meet was that they rested some of the athletes, which threw them out of rhythm.
After her collegiate best marks in vault (9.95) and bars (9.975) against Kentucky, freshman Bridget Sloan claimed her third SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week award. She has picked up league honors four times in 2013, claiming the Week 5 SEC Gymnast of the Week and Week 1, 6 and 8 Freshman of the Week. Teammate Kytra Hunter also posted a near-perfect 9.975 on vault and raised her collegiate best to 9.95 on bars.
Moving forward to Friday, No. 14 Minnesota is coming to town coming off of a 195.550-195.025 loss to Iowa State last week. The Gophers’ highest total of the season came in a 196.800 win in a quad meet against Central Michigan, Iowa State and Michigan. Florida’s season high remains at the 198.10 they posted against two-time defending national champion Alabama. Faehn says although most of the focus will be on the senior night celebration, Minnesota is coming to compete.
Arguably one of the Florida’s most talented gymnasts, junior Alaina Johnson has been out most of the season with a sore back. Although the team is loaded with depth, the addition of Johnson back in the lineup would greatly help the Gators. Faehn says that she believes Johnson will be cleared to start working out again next week.
The Florida-Minnesota meet airs tape-delayed on SUN Sports March 10 at 9 a.m. Looking ahead, the Gators are traveling to Utah next week to end the regular season.