The No. 3 University of
Florida gymnastics team (6-0, 0-0 SEC) opened the 2007 home season with a 196.85-193.80
win over No. 12 Oregon State (0-1, 0-0 Pac Ten) Friday evening in front of a
Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd of 4,011. Although only just two meets into
the season, Florida’s
2007 season-best team total Friday would have been its third-highest all of
last season for the team that took fourth in the 2006 NCAA Championships.
Although the Gators turned
in season-best totals on all but the uneven bars Friday, UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn knows her team has the
potential to perform much higher.
“It was a good way to
start the first home meet. I felt that maybe in the first two events, since it
was at home in front of everyone, they performed a little tentatively. We
missed quite a few landings comparatively to last week, especially on bars
where last week we rocked the landings, but everything is a learning experience
for them,” Faehn said. “I thought they competed aggressively and started to go
for the landings on beam and floor. All and all, I really can’t complain about
how they performed or about the score they received in the second meet of the
The Gator gymnastics team wore
orange t-shirts that celebrated the Florida
football team’s national championship win Monday to warm up for Friday’s meet.
A national title in the sport of gymnastics is something this team has been
focusing on for quite some time.
“I think it is just a huge
motivation. The football team said that the basketball team winning the
national championship was a big motivation and inspiration for them. It’s
important to always have that goal and not lose sight of it. There’s people
that are afraid to talk about it a lot because if you don’t achieve it then
you’re considered a failure, but I think it’s important to talk about it and
believe because the more you do talk about it then you are going to start to
believe it more and that’s how they are going to perform,” Faehn said. “It was
important to get the t-shirts for them and have them wear them at our first
home meet and show the pride of Florida
and the University. This is what we want to do – we want to win and bring
another one to Gainesville.”
Florida swept the event titles Friday,
including junior Ashley Reed winning
her season all-around debut. Reed posted a Gator season-best and her top
all-around total since her freshman season of 39.375 to take the sixth
all-around title of her career. Reed also upped the Gator season-best to 9.90
to take the vault title and claimed her second-consecutive balance beam title,
this time with a 9.875. Reed, who was slowed last year with injuries, looks to
be returning to the form that made her the Gators’ leading all-arounder as a
freshman in 2005.
“I’m feeling healthier
than I was last year and a lot stronger too. Physically, we’ve been
conditioning real hard and working on it. I feel a lot better out there this
year,” Reed said. “I think my confidence
has improved a lot. When I go out there, I’m not really that hesitant anymore
because I know I’ve done it so many times that I can go out there and do my
Red-shirt freshman Melanie Sinclair won her
second-consecutive uneven bars title, using a mark of 9.925. She also shared
second on the balance beam with teammates Breanne
King and Corey Hartung at 9.85.
To prepare for beam competition, Sinclair finds practice pressure sessions beneficial.
“In practice I do a lot of
pressure sets to help me with working under pressure. The gym will stop for me,
and I’ll do a routine. I think that helps me because I get a lot of adrenaline
going, so to practice calming down on that event is very helpful,” Sinclair
said. “I think I did pretty well on it tonight.”
Florida’s two 2006 NCAA Championships floor
exercise finalists led a Gator sweep of the top three positions. Hartung
claimed the seventh floor title of her collegiate career with a Gator
season-best 9.925. Senior Savannah Evans,
making her 2007 competitive debut, took second at 9.90. Senior Katie Rue and freshman Amanda Castillo shared third with
season-best marks of 9.875.
Other Gators among the top
three event finishers Friday included Castillo taking third in her collegiate
all-around debut at 39.075. King shared second in the vault with OregonState’s
Mandi Rodriguez at 9.85. Hartung (9.875) and Reed (9.80) took second and third,
respectively, in the bar standings.
Next up, the Gators compete
in their third consecutive meet versus a team that advanced to the 2006 NCAA
Championships when they play host to No. 4 Alabama on Friday, Jan. 19. The Tide
took third in 2006 NCAA Championship competition while UF took fourth. Meet
time is set for 7 p.m. in the O’Connell Center and tickets are $4.00 for adults
and free for UF students with identification and children 17 and under.
Complimentary tickets for the Florida-Alabama meet are available at all
Gainesville-area Wendy’s restaurants.
No. 3 Florida
versus No. 12 OregonState
Stephen C. O’Connell Center (4,011) – Gainesville, Fla.
– Jan. 12, 2007