Special to GC
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Florida gymnastics team claimed the NCAA Morgantown Regional title, held Saturday in front of 1,445 at West Virginia’s Coliseum. The win advances Florida to Fort Worth, Texas, where the Gators will look to defend their 2013 and 2014 NCAA team titles.<http://www.ncaa.com/championships/gymnastics-women/nc> Florida Event Winners Saturday Vault: Bridget Sloan 9.975 Uneven Bars: Bridget Sloan 9.95 Floor Exercise: Kytra Hunter 9.95 Bridget Sloan 9.95 All-Around: Bridget Sloan 39.80 The Gators turned in a 197.475 Saturday to take their fourth consecutive NCAA Regional title. The top two teams in regional competition advance to the NCAA Championships. Stanford claimed the other berth at 197.00. Illinois-Champaign was third at 196.675, followed by Arkansas (196.50), West Virginia (195.65) and New Hampshire (194.825). Florida was steady, but not spectacular, on its opening two events – uneven bars and balance beam. Still, Florida owned a 0.225 lead at the midway point. The Gators opened that margin after turning in the meet high totals on their finishing events – floor exercise (49.40) and vault (49.625). This is the second consecutive meet Florida has turned in its season-high vault total, as the Gators’ opened Southeastern Conference Championships’ competition with that same tally for vault. Junior All-American Bridget Sloan<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/sloan_bridget.php> returned with a roar to all-around competition, turning in the nation’s second-highest total of the season, 39.80, to win in her first all-around performance of the season. Sloan sprained her right ankle in the Jan. 11 season opener and has been adding events to her competitive repertoire since mid-February. Tonight was her first floor performance of the season and the final event to be added. She shared the event title at 9.95 with senior All-American teammate Kytra Hunter<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/hunter_kytra.php>. The high mark of the evening, a nearly perfect 9.975, went to Sloan on vault. She also shared the Regional uneven bars title at 9.95. Sloan led UF on beam with her mark of 9.925. GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES: · Tonight’s floor title was the 30th for Hunter, making her the Gators’ all-time leader for floor exercise wins. Gator Hall of Fame member Melissa Miller set the previous record of 29 floor wins during her career (1986-89). · Sloan’s all-around victory is the 18th of her career, moving her to fifth on the Gators Career All-Around Wins chart. With her four wins today, Sloan now jumps to fifth (68) on the Gators Career Events Titles list. · Sloan has competed seven times this season on the uneven bars, with all being scored above a 9.90 and six 9.95s or better. The defending NCAA bars champion has won six titles on the event in 2015. · The win ups Florida’s regional team titles total to 15 (1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) · In the NCAA Championships’ 34-year history, Florida has now advanced to the national championships 33 times, missing only the 2000 event. NOW WHAT? The 12-team field for the NCAA Championships is determined tonight, as the top two teams in each of the nation’s six regional sites advance to Fort Worth, Texas, for the April 17-19 national championships. The 12-team NCAA Championships' field competes April 17 in two semifinal sessions of six teams each. The top three teams in each session advance to the April 18 NCAA Super Six, where the team champion is determined. The Gators have advanced from the NCAA Championships semifinal competition to the NCAA Super Six team final nine of the last 11 years (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014). Florida won its first NCAA team title in 2013 and shared the 2014 crown with Oklahoma. GATORS EARNING ALL-REGION HONORS: The National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women (NACGC) announced NCAA All-Southeast Region honors Saturday. Florida’s Hunter, the nation’s top-ranked all-arounder, is the NACGC Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year, making her the third Gator to claim the honor since 2010. Other Gators to be named Regional Gymnast of the Year include Ashanée Dickerson (2010, 2011) and Sloan (2014). Regional assistant coach of the year honors went to Florida’s duo of Adrian Burde<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/coaches_bios/burde_adrian.php> and Robert Ladanyi<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/coaches_bios/ladanyi_robert.php>. This is the third time the pair have won the honor, also picking it up in 2011 and 2013. QUOTES On Florida’s performance Saturday: “I thought it was great. I was really proud of our team for competing aggressively right from the start on bars. They carried it through on beam and went six-for-six and were very consistent. Finishing up the way we did on vault was awesome. Probably some of the best vaults of the season. Bridget [Sloan] was phenomenal as well as Kytra [Hunter] and Alex [McMurtry] too. But overall, I loved their fight. “People probably don’t know that Rachel Spicer<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/gymnastics/pages/season_info/player_bios/spicer_rachel.php> sprained her ankle a week ago. So she wasn’t in the vault or floor lineup tonight but she came in on beam and did phenomenal. She only had a few days of training. I told the athletes when they were done that the level of fight from everybody was incredible. We still have areas to improve on. This is a really high level, high-stress meet and I’m really proud of how they performed.” – Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn How did it feel to compete as an all-arounder again? “It felt so good. I’ve been trying and getting better every day. After I vaulted [Florida’s final event], I thought ‘yes, I’m finally back.’ I felt very prepared, which is always good. I was so excited and the team did great.” – Florida junior All-American Bridget Sloan On the team’s performance and how she rebounded from fall on opening event: “We had a few mistakes but we were able to bounce back and had each other’s back. This is the meet before nationals and nationals is the big stage where you need to leave everything out there on the floor. This is our last preparation meet. I’m glad of how we finished and how we fought. “Definitely had a fluke on bars. I missed my release which is not something I usually do. I know I had three more events and that I needed to be there for my team. Usually I get frustrated, but tonight I let it go and came back with a strong beam performance. I’m proud of how I handled it.” – Florida senior All-America Kytra Hunter On being named NACGC Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year: “Being named the Southeast Region Gymnast of the Year is definitely an honor. I’m really glad that I can bring that back to the University and my team. Going forward, I know this will bring motivation to myself and our team. We are really excited for Nationals. It is a big stage and it’s a lot of fun.” – Florida senior All-America Kytra Hunter What did you think of Bridget Sloan’s all-around competition tonight? “Bridget was on fire. I’m really proud of her. Looking back to the first meet of the season, she didn’t and nor did I, see ourselves right here at this moment. She was amazing. So disciplined not only coming back and keeping herself ready to go, but also mentally ready to go. For her to come out tonight and look like she didn’t miss a beat the entire season, it just goes to show her resilience, her discipline and her talent level. She’s incredible.” - – Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn On Sloan’s return to all-around: “I’m really proud of her. It’s not easy – getting hurt in the first meet. She stayed with her rehab and she stayed strong and she definitely maintained her fitness and mental strength. She’s definitely a competitor. It is always fun to watch her – she’s a blast.” – Florida senior All-America Kytra Hunter On to NCAAs – how does that feel? “It feels great. Honestly, this is the most stressful competition for us because you know what the team has to do to advance. But we walked in here today and we knew we were capable of winning. It was just a matter of how bad we wanted it. We started off strong on bars. We had a fall but we had five good routines. Beam and floor went well and we finished with an amazing vault performance.” – Florida junior All-American Bridget Sloan WORTH NOTING · Florida’s vault total of 49.625 equals the second-highest in school history. · Hunter has used a 9.95 to win the Regional floor title each year of her collegiate career, becoming the first Gator to win a Regional event four straight years. · Sloan has competed four times on vault in 2015, earning every possible score variation above a 9.90 – 10.0 (Jan. 11), 9.975 (April 4), 9.95 (March 13) and 9.925 (March 21). · The regional all-around title has gone to a Gator each of the past six seasons – Dickerson (2010, 2012), Alaina Johnson (2011 & 2014), Hunter (2013) and Sloan (2015). · Florida has won the NCAA Regional team title in 10 of the 13 seasons under Rhonda Faehn. FLORIDA IN THE RANKINGS: Florida is No. 2 in the March 30 GymInfo National Rankings<http://www.troester.com/gym/WRankings/2015/0330/WT-20.htm>. NCAA MORGANTOWN REGION EVENT CHAMPIONS: All-Around Bridget Sloan Florida 39.80 Vault Bridget Sloan Florida 9.975 Bars Bridget Sloan Florida 9.95 Sunny Kato Illinois 9.95 Beam Ivana Hong Stanford 9.95 Floor Kytra Hunter Florida 9.95 Bridget Sloan Florida 9.95 UP NEXT: 2015 NCAA Gymnastics Championships – Fort Worth Convention Center * Fort Worth, Texas. Date April 17-19 Competition Semifinal I Time (ET) 2 p.m. Semifinal II 8 p.m. Saturday, April 18 Super Six Team Final 7 p.m. Sunday, April 19 Individual Event Finals 3 p.m. Selection information for the 12-team field and individual event competitors will be available on NCAA.com<http://www.ncaa.com/sports/gymnastics-women> by noon ET on Monday, April 7. Those teams and individuals advance to Birmingham, Ala., to compete in April 18 NCAA semifinal competition. The top three teams in each of the semifinal sessions compete in the NCAA Super Six on April 19 where the team champion is determined. Gymnast among the top four in their semifinal event standings advance to the NCAA Individual Event Finals on Sunday, April 20.