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NCAA Champion Gator gymnastics makes homecoming tonight

Nearly 48 hours after the top-ranked Florida gymnastics team claimed their first NCAA title in school history, the ladies in Orange and Blue return to Gainesville tonight.

Freshman Bridget Sloan won the all-around competition on Friday, making it the second year in a row that a UF gymnast has won the award. Sloan added a balance beam event title yesterday, and junior Alaina Johnson became UF’s first ever NCAA Champion on uneven bars last night at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. But both of those victories took a backseat to the team title.

With Rhonda Faehn sitting at the helm of Florida gymnastics for the past 11 seasons, her teams have been a fixture at the NCAA Championships. After reaching the Super Six for the seventh time in the last eight years, Florida was finally able to finish the job they had threatened to do so many times before. Faehn said that she has no words to describe the weekend.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Gators.

Early falls on their first apparatus, balance beam, nearly put Florida’s dream of a national title on hold, but Faehn said that the team stuck together, and bounced back like champions.

The 2013 Gators are national champions, but next year’s squad looks poised contend for a repeat. While seniors Ashanee Dickerson, Marissa King and Randy Stageberg won’t return, the program is in the best shape its ever been in. A deep and talented roster, plus a new practice studio and a national championship trophy should fuel the team during the off-season.

Doors open tonight at 6 p.m. and the celebration starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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