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Florida was second in Saturday's NCAA Super Six team final

Saturday April 21, 2012Gators Finish Second at NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Thrilling Super Six

Florida was second in Saturday's NCAA Super Six team final

The math just didn’t go in the Gators favor Saturday in the NCAA Super Six team final. The Florida gymnastics team was edged by Alabama, giving the Tide their second consecutive and sixth overall NCAA Championship. Alabama won the title at 197.85, while the Gators were 0.075 behind at 197.775.

UCLA took third at 197.75, while Stanford (197.50), Utah (197.375) and Arkansas (196.30) rounded out the action Saturday in The Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Just a tenth of a point kept the Gators from becoming the fifth team to raise the NCAA Championship trophy. In a sport where precision and execution is rewarded, it was perhaps just a slight step on a landing or a handstand not quite to vertical that kept the trophy from making a trip down I-75 to Gainesville. To be so close is a disappointment for a team which has accomplished so much this season but Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn liked the way her team competed today.

“So close. I’m so proud of the athletes and so proud of this team because they competed their hearts out. We couldn’t have asked for any more – for them to go out today and compete as aggressively as they did and compete with such passion. Just under a tenth difference is extremely painful and it’s hard but at the same time I look at what our athletes did accomplish and how incredible they did. I’m super proud of them,” Faehn said. “Of course we wanted to win, but there can only be one winner. This is incredible motivation for all of our athletes. We feel that we did everything right this season and it was just one little thing. They should be very proud of this performance and use it as fuel for next year.”

Heading into the final rotation, the Gators owned a 0.025 advantage over the Tide – the slightest margin allowed in the sport. The Gators were on the floor exercise, while the Tide moved to the balance beam. It was going to be a tough challenge, as the Tide had equaled the highest beam total ever in NCAA Championships’ history – 49.60 – in Friday’s semifinal action. Florida couldn’t quite keep up with the Tide’s beam marks Saturday, as the Gators posted a 49.40 on floor while UA earned a beam total of 49.50.

“I knew it was going to be a brawl till the end,” junior Randy Stageberg said. “Everyone did what they had to do. We went out there, had some minor mistakes and, unfortunately, that is what it came down to. I am still so happy for this team and happy with how we performed tonight.”

Florida opened the meet with a total of 49.475 on vault. The Gators were led by Ashanée Dickerson, who equaled her collegiate vault best of 9.95 for the sixth time in her career and the second time this season. Two other Gators earned vault scores of 9.9 or better – Marissa King (9.925) and Alaina Johnson (9.90)

On the uneven bars, Florida earned a total of 49.425. A fall early in the lineup put the pressure on the Gators’ ending performers and they responded with marks of 9.85 or above. Florida’s final two competitors led the team as Johnson earned a season-best 9.95 and fellow sophomore Mackenzie Caquatto earned a 9.90.

At the midway point of the meet, the Gators trailed the Tide by 0.175, but the Gators’ equaled their top balance beam total of 49.475 to put themselves in position to challenge for the title. Stageberg started off the Gators’ beam set by setting her collegiate-best of 9.90. Johnson equaled her collegiate-best of 9.925 to lead UF on the event and King also posted a 9.90.

On floor, Stageberg posted her second collegiate-best of the day, equaling her top mark of 9.90. Freshman Kytra Hunter, who became the first Gator to win the NCAA all-around title a day earlier, anchored the lineup with a 9.925.

The runner-up finish isn’t what this Gator team was looking for, but a year ago, the exact same margin of 0.075 kept Florida out of the Super Six. Changes were made this season in the team’s training, which resulted in the Gators challenging this year for the NCAA title.

“From last year, it is a big, big step. We did not make it to Super Six last year and the fact that we are second, and from that, was a phenomenal step. We have grown closer as a team, the program has improved a lot. Last year was a big learning point in which the coaches decided to change a few things, and they saw that those few changes this year were improvements. I definitely think that they are going to continue to put that into play in the coming years,” King said. “Everyone just did a great job. I am proud of everyone today.”

 

NCAA Championships action finishes Sunday with the NCAA Individual Event finals, which begin at 1 p.m. A pair of Gators will contend for event titles on three events – vault (King and Hunter), bars (Johnson and Caquatto) and floor exercise (Dickerson and Hunter). King is the defending champion on vault. Individual event finals action can be seen live on ESPN3.

 

Florida in NCAA Super Six Championship

Final Team Totals

April 21, 2012 ● The Arena at Gwinnett Center

Team

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Total

Alabama

49.625

49.275

49.500

49.450

197.850

Florida

49.475

49.425

49.475

49.400

197.775

UCLA

49.525

49.475

49.400

49.350

197.750

Stanford

49.550

49.350

49.325

49.275

197.500

Utah

49.400

49.300

49.350

49.325

197.375

Arkansas

49.450

49.175

49.225

49.450

196.300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gator Notes:

● Florida’s total of 197.775 is its highest ever in NCAA Championships’ competition

● Runner-up finish equals Florida’s highest NCAA placing (also second in 1998)

● The differential today of 0.10 between the No. 1 team and the No. 3 team makes the 2012 NCAA Championships team race the tightest in the meet’s history. The previous low differential of 0.30 was set in the 2001 NCAA Championships.

● The differential today of 0.075 between Alabama and Florida is the third narrowest in the meet’s history, ranking behind 0.05 set in the 1994 and 1989 NCAA Championships.

● Three of Florida’s event totals Saturday rank as its highest ever in NCAA Championships’ competition – vault (49.475), bars (49.425) and beam (49.475). UF’s 49.40 on floor equals its second-highest in Super Six action.

● Florida’s balance beam total of 49.475 is the sixth highest and the bars total of 49.425 is the 10th highest among all teams in the 19-year history of the NCAA Super Six

● Three Gators set or matched collegiate-best beam marks Saturday – Rachel Spicer (9.875), Randy Stageberg (9.90), Alaina Johnson (9.925). Stageberg also equaled her collegiate floor best of 9.90. Ashanée Dickerson matched her collegiate vault best of 9.95 for the sixth time in her career and the second time this season.

 

 

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