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Friday January 12, 2007No. 3 Florida Gymnastics Opens Home Season with 196.85-193.80 Win Over No. 12 Oregon State

Gainesville, FL

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 year.”


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 routine.”


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 Oregon State’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 Oregon State

Stephen C. O’Connell Center (4,011) – Gainesville, Fla. – Jan. 12, 2007























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