SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The No. 1 University of Florida gymnastics team advances to the NCAA Super Six team final after posting its highest score ever, 197.40, in NCAA Championships competition.
For the first time this season, the Gators didn’t finish or tie for the top position in the team standings. Georgia won the NCAA Championships Session I Team Qualifier at 197.70, its third-highest team score of 2007. Florida’s runner-up total of 197.40 is the highest ever in NCAA Championships’ competition and the top road mark ever for the program.
Nebraska claimed the third and final NCAA Super Six berth at 196.625. Oklahoma was fourth at 196.25, followed by Alabama (196.125) and Oregon State (195.10). The Crimson Tide, seeded fourth for the championship, failed to advance to the NCAA Super Six for only the second time since the Super Six format began in 1993.
For Florida Head Coach Rhonda Faehn, she knew the Gators performed well Thursday, but there are definitely some areas that will need to be cleaned up if Florida is to have a chance to become the fifth team to win a NCAA Gymnastics team title.
“We didn’t peak today. We had a good competition, but not a great competition. That is exactly what we needed. You don’t want your best competition of the entire year this afternoon; we want it tomorrow,” Faehn said. “To win the national title, you have to get all your stuck landings and handstands on bars to eliminate the little deductions that really add up. We definitely have room to improve.”
Faehn thinks a key to a successful performance tomorrow is to focus on a common theme for this year’s Gator squad – have fun.
“Tonight we’ll talk about focusing in on ourselves as a team and what we need to do tomorrow. We want to just really perform, have fun out there and to show it off,” Faehn said. “Today is always a little bit of a pressure-packed situation because advancing is on the line. You have nothing to lose tomorrow. So a key for tomorrow is just to have fun out there.”
In addition to determining which teams advance to Friday’s Super Six team final, Thursday’s competition also established All-America honors and the gymnasts advancing to Saturday’s individual event finals. The Gators received strong individual performances on each apparatus, advancing at least one gymnast to each of Saturday’s four event finals. It is only the second time in the program’s history that UF placed a gymnast in each event final, with the first time coming in 1998.
Florida sends three to the NCAA floor exercise final. Corey Hartung and Savannah Evans will make their second consecutive appearance in the floor final. They will be joined by junior Ashley Reed, who makes her event final debut Saturday. All three shared second in the Session I floor standings at 9.90. The mark ranks as a season-best for Evans. The Gators shared the high floor team total of the opening session with Georgia at 49.425.
Evans also advances to the NCAA vault final and will be joined by freshman Amanda Castillo. They each led UF on the vault Thursday with season-best marks of 9.90, which tied for third in the session. The Gators turned in a vault team total of 49.25 – a solid score, but its potential was hurt by some extra steps on landings of a few other competitors.
Red-shirt freshman Melanie Sinclair, who shares the UF uneven bars record of 10.0, earned a spot in that event final by taking second in the session at 9.925. Castillo and Reed both earned All-America second team honors for the uneven bars by tying for fifth with marks of 9.875. Florida’s uneven bars total of 49.30 was second to UGA’s 49.40.
The Gators finished the day by posting the session’s highest balance beam total of 49.425 – matching its second-high mark for the event in
2007. Three Gators will advance to Saturdays’ beam final. Hartung led all competitors in the session with her mark of 9.925. Sinclair and Castillo also advance by tying for second overall at 9.90. It will be Hartung’s second consecutive appearance in the NCAA beam final, as she tied for fifth in 2006. Senior Breanne King earned All-America second-team honors by tying for eighth at 9.875.
All three Gator all-arounders earned All-America honors Thursday, the only school to have each of its all-arounders in Session I to do so. Castillo was second in the session’s all-around with a collegiate-best total of 39.55, earning her a spot on the All-America first team. Hartung and Reed tied for fifth in the session at 39.40 for a spot on the All-America second team.
Georgia’s Courtney Kupets, the defending NCAA all-around champion, claimed the top spot in the opening session at 39.75. She also was first on vault, bars and floor with identical marks of 9.95.
As one of the top three teams in the NCAA Championships’ opening session of the team qualifying competition, Florida advances to the NCAA Super Six where the NCAA team champion is determined. Competition for the NCAA Super Six is set for Friday, April 27 at 9 p. m. (EDT). This is the sixth NCAA Super Six appearance for the Gators (1994, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2006, and 2007). The highest NCAA finish for the Gators was second in the 1998 event held in Los Angeles, Calif.
Now the Gators await the competition draw for Friday’s Super Six, which will be conducted following Thursday’s second team qualifying session. The draw for Saturday’s individual event finals will also held tonight. Check back to www. GatorZone. com later tonight for Friday and Saturday’s draws.
1) Georgia 197.700
2) Florida 197.400
3) Nebraska 196.625
4) Oklahoma 196.250
5) Alabama 196.125
6) OSU 195.100
1) Kupets (Georgia) 9.950, Parsons (Nebraska) 9.950
3) Evans (Florida) 9.900, Castillo (Florida) 9.900, Dowlen (Georgia)
9.900, Newby (Georgia) 9.900, Tolnay (Georgia) 9.900, Zabawa (Nebraska)
9.900, Koncak-Schumann (Oklahoma) 9.900, Redmond (Oklahoma) 9.900, Smith
(OSU) 9.900, Rodriguez (OSU) 9.900
1) Kupets (Georgia) 9.950
2) Sinclair (Florida) 9.925
3) Humphrey (Alabama) 9.900, Heenan (Georgia) 9.900
1) Hartung (Florida) 9.925
2) Humphrey (Alabama) 9.900, Sinclair (Florida) 9.900, Castillo
(Florida) 9.900, Taylor (Georgia) 9.900, Kupets (Georgia) 9.900, Woo
1) Kupets (Georgia) 9.950
2) Evans (Florida) 9.900, Reed (Florida) 9.900, Hartung (Florida) 9.900,
Tolnay (Georgia) 9.900, Parsons (Nebraska) 9.900, Redmond (Oklahoma)
9.900, Dennis (Alabama) 9.900
1) Kupets (Georgia) 39.750
2) Castillo (Florida) 39.550
3) Hartung (Florida) 39.400, Reed (Florida) 39.400, Dennis (Alabama)
39.400, Heenan (Georgia) 39.400
Courtesy UF Sports Information