The second ranked Florida gymnastics team is in Duluth, Georgia for the SEC Championships that take place this weekend.
The Gators look for their 10th SEC title beginning Saturday. Both Florida and Alabama have won the last six SEC titles, with Florida taking the 2010, 2012, and 2013 titles and Alabama taking the 2009, 2011, and 2014 titles. In last year’s championship meet, Florida lost to Alabama by just five thousandths of a point, with the team totals at 197.975–197.70.
After Missouri was added to the league in 2013, there will be eight teams competing in Saturday’s championship meet. The four bottom seeds (5-8) will compete in the first session followed by the four top seeds (1-4) in the evening. The SEC holds five of the nation’s top 10 teams in number two Florida, number three LSU, number five Alabama, number eight Auburn and ninth ranked Georgia. The nation’s top three all-around scores have been posted five times, all by SEC gymnasts. Florida’s head coach Rhonda Faehn says the difficulty of this conference competition makes for a great show.
“Our athletes feed off of that and they love that environment. And so it is just really an energetic, dynamic competition.”
Florida finished the season at 5-2 in the SEC. In last weekend’s meet against Texas Woman’s University, Bridget Sloan became one of only seven college gymnasts (and the only Gator) to complete a “GymSlam” by scoring a perfect 10.0 on all four events in her career. Kytra Hunter collected the floor and all-around titles at the last meet, which put her one away from tying Florida’s record for career floor title wins. Five different Gators picked up SEC honors this season, including Kytra Hunter, Bridget Sloan, Alex McMurtry, Kennedy Baker, and Erica Fassbender.
As Florida heads into the championship season, they bring with them the honor of being the two-time reigning national champions (sharing last year’s title with Oklahoma). Despite this prestigious title, Faehn says they are focused on “one meet at a time.”
“We’re not focusing of course on the national championship… right now the importance is to focus on our athletes and what they are going to be performing.”
The meet will air live on the SEC Network Plus and re-air on the SEC Network on March 24th at 9 p.m.
To listen to Rhonda Faehn’s audio clips, click below.