The No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (8-2, 6-1 SEC) is the top seeded team for the 2013 Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship. The defending conference champions will perform on Saturday, March 23rd at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark. The Gymnast of the Year, freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Scholar Athlete of the Year will be announced in between two practice sessions Friday evening, March 22nd at 3:55 p.m.
Florida edged the Alabama Crimson Tide last year 197.15-196.775, for their eighth conference championship in Duluth, Ga. Despite earning the nation’s highest road score of 2013, the Gators fell to No. 7 Utah last weekend to end their regular season schedule. This has only added fuel to Florida’s fire, making them more motivated to defend their title as conference champs.
“I feel like we came out and we accomplished so much and I am so proud of the team,” UF head coach Rhonda Faehn said after her team’s loss to Utah. “It really did prepare and help fuel them for what lies ahead this next week at the SEC Championships and they are so excited.”
Since the addition of Missouri to the league, the arrangement for the SEC Conference Championships will be 2 four-team sessions, as eight teams will be competing. Teams ranked No. 5-8 will compete in the afternoon session (Session I) and teams ranked No. 1-4 will compete later on in the evening session (Session II). Scores from both sessions will be combined to conclude final teams and individual rankings.
The SEC has showed how stiff the competition is in the conference, holding four spots in the top-10: No. 1 Florida, No. 3 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 LSU. The Gators will kick off competition in the second session of the night beginning at 7 p.m. against the Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs and the Tigers. The top seed in each session will compete the Olympic rotation (vault-bars-beam-floor).
In the first session of the evening Auburn, Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas will battle it out with Auburn leading as the top seed. The meet will air on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m. March 28th and on ESPN at 7 p.m. March 30th.
Friday evening before the competition begins, Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Missouri will practice from 2:00 until 3:48 p.m. while Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU will practice from 4:22 until 6:10 p.m.
“Going on into next week, obviously we have a big meet coming up at SECs,” freshman Bridget Sloan said after earning her fourth all-around event title in the meet against the Utes. “Now we are feeling great, everyone looks great and it will be a great competition.”
Needless to say the Gators are pumped and ready to defend their conference title and hopefully bring home a ninth SEC championship for the University of Florida gymnastics program.
Session I – 3 p.m. ET
Seeds 5-6-7-8 (seeds based on March 18 RQS)
Session II – 7 p.m. ET
Seeds 1-2-3-4 (seeds based on March 18 RQS)
Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.