Jenny Rowland and the No. 3 Florida Gator Gymnastics team looks to continue to be a dominant force during the upcoming season.
The Gators start this season ranked third in the WCGA poll, only behind two other dominant forces in Oklahoma and LSU. Oklahoma is the defending National Champion, while LSU finished runner-up in the 2019 National Championship. This will be the Gators 14th year in a row starting the season ranked in the top five.
This Friday, Florida opens its 2020 season at home against No. 19 Arkansas.
Arkansas wont be the only difficult team that Florida has to face this season though. Its 2020 season is packed with meets against multiple top 25 opponents. Eleven out of their 12 meets are against opponents in the top 25, only facing an unranked team in their last meet of the season in Texas Women’s University.
At home, the Gators will take on No. 2 LSU, No. 7 Denver, No. 10 Alabama, No. 19 Arkansas and No. 20 Iowa State (Feb. 7). On the road Florida faces No. 8 Georgia, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 13 Auburn, No. 16 Missouri and No. 25 Penn State.
Florida’s toughest opponent in the regular season will be LSU. The Gators and the Tigers always have a very close meet, however LSU has recently owned the match up taking four of the last five meets. Four of the last five meets have also been decided by less than six tenths of a point. This included the 2019 season where Florida brought down LSU in Baton Rouge by only 75 thousandths of a point.
Coach Rowland knows that even though they have a difficult schedule, it will only help them in the long run.
The Gators will have a stacked lineup this year as well with only one freshman on the team. Six gators hold a total of 17 all-american honors. These Gators include Alyssa Baumann, Amelia Hundley, Megan Skaggs, Rachel Gowey, Savannah Schoenherr and Trinity Thomas.
Thomas is only the only current member of the U.S. Senior National Team to be on a 2020 NCAA roster. However, the Gators also have six former U.S. National Team members in Baumann, Gowey, Hundley, Jazmyn Foberg, Skaggs and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf.. Maegan Chant was also a four-time member of Canada’s National Team.
The lone freshman in Florida’s lineup comes in Payton Richards from Mokena, Ill. Richards is a A three-time Junior Olympic National Championships champion. She was also selected to be on the Region 5 All-Star Team the past three years.
Head coach Rowland already knows she found a star in Richards and she will be beneficial to Gator gymnastics for years to come.