Florida gymnasts head to Utah regional

Winning the NCAA Division I Women’s Gymnastics Championship is a long and winding road. Just ask the Southeastern Conference champion Florida Gators, who must travel to Salt Lake City to get back to Gainesville for the finals April 22-24 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

No. 4 Florida is the top-seeded team in the North Central Regional, which will take place Saturday, April 10 at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Center. Also in the six-team field are No. 10 Utah, No. 16 Auburn, No. 19 Boise State, No. 22 Denver and No. 23 Washington. The top two teams and top two all-around competitors not on those teams advancing advance to the finals.

Florida has advanced to the nationals 27 times in the 28-year history of the event. Last year, Florida won its fifth consecutive regional title at the North Central Regional in Iowa City, Iowa, and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships at Lincoln, Neb.

Florida has faced both Utah and Auburn this season. The Gators beat the Tigers 196.80-195.70 at Auburn on Feb. 26 and then beat Utah Gainesville on March 19, 197.55-196.50. Florida then won its seventh SEC Championship last Saturday at Jacksonville, finishing with a 197.05 score while Auburn finished fifth with 195.575.

Florida did not meet No. 19 Boise State, No. 22 Denver or No. 23 Washington during the season, but the Gators have some ties with Denver, where the head coach is Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart, a member of Florida’s 1989 SEC Championships.

Also announced Monday were the fields and the competition orders for the other five regional sites, which also will be contested April 10: Northeast (State College, Pa. / Penn State University); Central (Lexington, Ky. / University of Kentucky); Southeast (Morgantown, W.Va. / West Virginia University); South Central (Columbia, Mo. / University of Missouri); and West (Los Angeles, Calif. / UCLA).


REGIONALS / Saturday, April 10

NORTH CENTRAL / University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Field: Competition order

No. 4 Florida: Bye (I), Floor (II), Vault (III), Bye (IV), Bars (V), Beam (VI)

No. 10 Utah: Floor (I), Vault (II), Bye (III), Bars (IV), Beam (V), Bye (VI)

No. 16 Auburn: Vault (I), Bye (II), Bars (III), Beam (IV), Bye (V), Floor (VI)

No. 19 Boise State: Bye (I), Bars (II), Beam (III), Bye (IV), Floor (V), Vault (VI)

No. 22 Denver: Beam (I), Bye (II), Floor (III), Vault (IV), Bye (V), Bars (VI)

No. 23 Washington: Bars (I), Beam (II), Bye (III), Floor (IV), Vault (V), Bye (VI)

NORTHEAST / Penn State University, State College

Field: No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 11 Louisiana State, No. 14 Penn State, No. 33 Maryland, No. 34 Ohio State, No. 35 New Hampshire

CENTRAL / University of Kentucky, Lexington

Field: No. 1 Alabama, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Illinois, No. 20 Kentucky, No. 24 Central Michigan, No. 27 Michigan State

SOUTH CENTRAL / University of Missouri, Columbia

Field: No. 5 Georgia, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 15 Missouri, No. 25 Minnesota, No. 29 Iowa, No. 36 North Carolina

SOUTHEAST / West Virginia University, Morgantown

Field: No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Michigan, No. 18 Southern Utah, No. 28 Kent State, No. 30 West Virginia, No. 31 North Carolina State

WEST / UCLA, Los Angeles

Field: No. 3 UCLA, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 17 Iowa State, No. 21 Arizona, No. 26 Brigham Young, No. 32 Arizona State