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Preseason No. 1 Florida gymnastics opens 2014 season at No. 4 UCLA Saturday.

Friday January 10, 2014Defending NCAA champion UF gymnastics team opens at UCLA Saturday, meet live on Pac-12 Networks

Preseason No. 1 Florida gymnastics opens 2014 season at No. 4 UCLA Saturday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 1 preseason Florida gymnastics team opens the program’s 42nd season in the same arena it closed the 2013 season by winning its first NCAA team title – UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. Florida will face preseason No. 4 UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 11 in the season-opening dual meet for both programs.

 

Saturday’s Meet Info:

No. 1 Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC) at No. 4 UCLA (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

Date & Time: Saturday, Jan. 11 at 10 p.m. ET

Site:
New Pauley Pavilion (13,800)

Television: meet airs live on Pac-12 Network (Gainesville/Ocala Cox Cable 704 or 1704)

Series Record (all-time): UCLA leads 25-9. Last meeting, Florida won the 2013 NCAA Super Six team final at 197.575 and UCLA was fourth at 197.10.

Internet: live stats available on GatorZone.com

Tickets: range in price from $9.50 - $6.50. Visit the UCLA Ticket site for further information.

 

 

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The meet airs live on the Pac-12 Network at 10 p.m. ET.

Last Year:

Florida became the fifth program to win a NCAA team championship in the 32-year history of the event. The Gators stormed back from counting a miss on their opening event – balance beam – to turn in a NCAA Championship record of 49.725 on floor exercise. Florida entered the NCAA Super Six’s final rotation trailing the meet leader by 0.025 and used a meet-high uneven bars total of 49.475 to claim the program’s first NCAA team title. Then-freshman Bridget Sloan won NCAA titles in both the all-around and balance beam. She is the second consecutive Gator to win the NCAA all-around title, as teammate Kytra Hunter won it as a freshman in 2012. Alaina Johnson became the first Gator to win the NCAA uneven bars title, completing a remarkable comeback which saw Johnson miss eight 2013 meets due to stress reaction and stress fracture of lower back.

 

About the Bruins:

UCLA took fourth in 2013 NCAA Super Six competition. Three Bruins who earned 2013 All-America honors – Olivia Courtney, Danusia Francis and Sophina DeJesus – return in 2014. Also returning in 2014 is redshirt junior Samantha Peszek, who sat out last season with a torn right Achilles tendon. Peszek and Florida’s Sloan were members of the U.S.’s silver medal team at the 2008 Olympics. Both trained at Sharp’s Gymnastics under Marvin Sharp when Peszek joined the club in the fall of 2008. The two from the Hoosier State also have won the NCAA balance beam title during their freshman seasons – Peszek in 2011 and Sloan in 2013.

 

Preseason National Rank:

Florida – Florida is No. 1 in the GymInfo preseason poll. It is the first time since the first release of a preseason poll in 1992 that the Gators top the list. Florida has appeared among the preseason top four teams each of the last eight years (2007: 3rd; 2008: 2nd; 2009: 3rd; 2010: 4th; 2011: 3rd; 2012: 3rd, 2013: 3rd)

UCLA – The Bruins are No. 4 in the GymInfo preseason poll.  

 

Gator – Bruin Connections:

The two teams from opposite coasts regularly meet in NCAA Championships’ competition, but this is the first dual meet since 2005 between the Gators and the Bruins. UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn is a 1994 graduate of UCLA and a two-time All-American for the Bruins. She competed for Valorie Kondos Field in her first two seasons as the Bruins’ head coach.

 

Preseason Top Four Teams Meet in Season Opener:

When No. 1 Florida meets No. 4 UCLA this Saturday, it will be the first meeting of preseason top-four teams in a season opener since the 2009 season. UCLA was also involved in that competition as the preseason No. 4 Bruins suffered a narrow 196.175-196.075 loss at No. 2 Utah in the 2009 opener for both teams.

 

Gators Return Four All-Americans in 2014:

The Gators return four gymnasts in 2014 (Mackenzie Caquatto, Kytra Hunter, Alaina Johnson and Bridget Sloan) who own a total of 26 All-America honors. The Gators won the Southeastern Conference, NCAA Gainesville Regional and NCAA championship team titles last year. In 2014, Florida returns 17 of 24 routines it competed in the 2013 NCAA Championships.

 

Florida Adds Two Talented Freshman:

The Gators’ 13-member roster includes two freshmen. Claire Boyce of Grapevine, Texas, won the 2012 Junior Olympic Level 10 – Senior A all-around title. She was also second on floor and shared second on the bars. Silvia Colussi-Pelaez is from Oakville, Ontario, but holds dual citizenship with Spain. She represented Spain in 2013 World Championships’ competition held in Antwerp, Belgium. She successfully performed a sideways aerial on balance beam – a first in World of Olympic competition – and the skill is now named after her. Don’t look for the skill in her collegiate routine as the risk outweighs the reward in the collegiate scoring system. Although Florida’s number of freshmen numbers just two, it still ranks No. 5 on the 2013-14 CollegeGymFans.com Top Recruiting Classes list.

 

Cox Cable free Pac-12 Network Weekend:

Cox Communications digital subscribers in the Gainesville/Ocala area can watch Saturday’s meet as part of the Pac-12 Network Free Preview Weekend. Digital subscribers can watch on channel 704 and those who have Cox Contour can watch the meet in HD on channel 1704. The meet airs live at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 11 and re-airs on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 1 p.m. ET.

 

Rhonda Faehn Says:

“Our goal every year is to take it one meet at a time and not to look past what it is – the beginning of the season. It is an opportunity for our athletes to gain experience, try new routines and get out there and get it going.”

 

 

 

 

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