No. 4 Florida gymnasts prevail at No. 12 Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 4 Florida gymnastics team collected its second consecutive win of the season Friday, beating No. 12 Kentucky 196.05-195.35 at the Memorial Coliseum.

The Gators (2-1, 2-0 SEC) showed improvement from their first road performance of the season and did not count a fall toward their team total.

“We’re much happier with our road performance,” Florida coach Rhonda Faehn said. “I thought we did much better on our starting event – the uneven bars. We did a better job of hitting our handstands and really going for the stuck landings. On vault, we still need to narrow in on those landings, but we’ll get there. Tonight, we switched the lineup around a bit and Courtney Gladys started us off with a great stuck landing. On floor, we had some great routines from Liz (Green) and Amy (Ferguson). Ashanée (Dickerson) had her best floor routine of the year. But we had some stumbles on some landings because they were going so hard for the stick. On beam, we were just a little wobbly. We went’ six for six but again, some of the gymnasts went for a stuck landing and came up a little short.

“There was definite improvement on this road performance, but there is still work to be done,” she continued. “This is great because it gives us the motivation to go back and to work on those areas that need to be cleaner.”

A Gator took at least a share of four of the evening’s five event titles, including freshman Ashanée Dickerson picking up her third consecutive all-around title with a total of 39.25. She is the first Gator to open the season with three consecutive all-around wins since former All-American Melissa Miller in 1988. Fellow freshman Marissa King was runner-up in the all-around at 39.075.

Senior Courtney Gladys picked up a share of two event titles Friday, tying for top honors on both vault and balance beam. Teammate Nicole Ellis tied Gladys on vault as each turned in season-best vault marks of 9.875.

Both Gladys and freshman Liz Green shared their first collegiate balance beam wins with Kentucky’s Storey Morris at 9.825.

Three Gators shared the evening’s uneven bars title at 9.825 – Alicia Goodwin, Elizabeth Mahlich and Maranda Smith. Kentucky’s Emily Green took the floor exercise title at 9.85. Florida’s Dickerson matched her collegiate-best of 9.90 for the second straight week to finish runner-up.

The Gators play host to No. 16 Louisiana State Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the O’Connell Center.  The evening is the fourth annual Gators Link to Pink meet, part of a conference initiative to raise awareness for breast cancer.

Next week, Florida plays host to No. 16 LSU for the fourth annual Gators Link to Pink meet on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The competition is part of a Southeastern Conference initiative to raise awareness about breast cancer. The first 500 fans at the meet receive the 2010 Gators Link to Pink poster and the first 1,000 fans receive a Link to Pink t-shirt, courtesy of Sun Sports. Admission is $4 for adults with students and children under 17 free. Local Chick-Fil-A restaurants will be handing out free passes for the meet.

No. 4 FLORIDA 196.05, No. 12 KENTUCKY 195.35

At Lexington, Ky., Memorial Coliseum

Vault: Florida 49.175, Kentucky 48.75. First place: Nicole Ellis (UF), Courtney Gladys (UF), 9.875.

Uneven bars: Florida 49.05, Kentucky 48.65. First place: Alicia Goodwin (UF), Elizabeth Mahlich (UF), Maranda Smith (UF), 9.825.

Balance beam: Florida 48.75, Kentucky 48.60. First place: Courtney Gladys (UF), Liz Green (UF). Storey Morris (UK) 9.825.

Floor exercise: Florida 49.075, Kentucky 48.35. First place: Emily Green (UK) 9.85.

All-around: Ashanée Dickerson (UF) 39.25.


Florida opens with 7-0 victory over UCF: The 11th-ranked Florida men’s tennis team opened its dual season Friday with a 7-0 victory over UCF in Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

Junior Alexandre Lacroix, ranked No. 7 nationally, scored a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Marc Rocafort in a match at No. 1 singles that took just 61 minutes. A few minutes later, senior Antoine Benneteau scored a 6-1, 6-1 victory over UCF’s Mario Samson at No. 5 singles and freshman Sekou Bangoura Jr. won his No. 2 singles match over Claudio Romano, 6-0, 6-2, to clinch the match.

“I was encouraged by what I saw today,” Florida head coach Andy Jackson said. “We had three guys playing their first dual match today. Our veterans dominated at the No. 1 and No. 5 positions, and in my opinion Joey Burkhardt faced their best player in the No. 4 position. I thought we looked good today, especially in doubles.”

Freshman Billy Federhofer posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Blaze Schwartz in the No. 6 spot position, while Burkhardt beat Johan Beigart, 6-4, 6-3, and freshman Bob Van Overbeek beat Brock Sakey, 7-5, 6-2, at No. 3 singles.

“Bob was tight at the beginning, which is normal for a freshman in his first match,” Jackson explained. “But Bob is a big-time player, and he finished the match like he usually plays. The results show it.”

In doubles play, the 10th-ranked pair of Benneteau and Lacroix posted a dominating 8-2 win over No. 21 Rocafort and Romano, while Bangoura and Burkhardt also scored an 8-2 win on the second court. After the doubles point had been clinched, Federhofer and Van Overbeek fell, 8-3, at No. 3.

The Gators now travel to Waco, Texas, to take on No. 6 Baylor at 2 p.m. Sunday. They will be back at home the following Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30-31, to host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, facing Furman at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by Georgia Tech vs. Penn State at 1 p.m. On Sunday, the consolation match starts at 9 a.m. and the championship at 1 p.m.


At Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex, Gainesville, Fla.


1. No. 10 Antoine Benneteau/Alexandre Lacriox (UF) def. No. 21 Marc Rocafort-Blaze Schwartz (UCF), 8-2 (0:41); 2. Sekou Bangoura Jr.-Joey Burkhardt (UF) def. John Beigart-Delinks (UCF), 8-2 (0:36); 3. Claudio Romano/Brock Sakey (UCF) def. Billy Federhofer/Bob Van Overbeek (UF), 8-3 (0:43). (Order of finish: 2, 1, 3).


1. No. 7 Alexand Lacroix (UF) def. Marc Rocafort (UCF), 6-0, 6-3 (1:01); 2.  Sekou Bangoura Jr. (UF) def. Claudio Romano (UCF), 6-0, 6-2 (1:05); 3. Bob Van Overbeek (UF) def. Brock Sakey (UCF), 7-5, 6-2 (1:29); 4. Joey Burkhardt (UF) def. Johan Beigart (UCF), 6-4, 6-3 (1:23); 5. Antoine Benneteau (UF) def. Mario Samson (UCF), 6-1, 6-1 (1:04); 6. Billy Federhofer (UF) def. Blaze Schwartz (UCF), 6-3, 6-3 (1:16). (Order of finish: 1, 5, 2, 6, 4, 3).


Florida men and women sweep Auburn: The No. 6 Florida men’s swimming team (8-0, 3-0 SEC) stunned No. 5 Auburn, 162-138, while the No. 7 Florida women’s swimming team (9-2, 3-1 SEC) beat No. 8 Auburn, 185-115, on Senior Day Friday at the O’Connell Center. It was the last home dual meets for both teams.

In the extremely fast meet, a total of 69 NCAA B standards were achieved between the Florida and Auburn student-athletes in swimming competition, including both individual and relay races. Ten of the 16 women’s victories belonged to the Gators, while Florida’s men walked away with nine event victories out of the 16 events. UF swept first through third in four races on the men’s side, including the 1,000 free, 200 fly, 200 back and 500 free. In women’s action, the Gators won first, second and third in both the 200 free and 500 free races.

“We saw some great things from our team on Senior Day today,” Florida coach Gregg Troy said. “Our seniors swam extremely well, but the depth from the remainder of the team is what won it for us, because without second and third-place finishes, it’s hard to maintain. Today was a great judge of where we’re at this season in our training. We were able to see where we are now versus where we need to be in a few weeks. I’m positive Auburn will be better at the conference meet, and we need to be better too, particularly on some technical things.”

Fittingly, several strong performances from the Florida seniors helped pave the way for the Gators, as Omar Pinzon won three individual events for the Florida men, including the 100 back (47.46), 200 back (1:42.80) and 200 individual medley (1:47.91), all of which counted as NCAA provisional standards. Shaune Fraser walked away victorious in both the 100 (47.00) and 200-yard butterfly (1:44.37) races, while placing second in the 100 free (43.82), all qualifying NCAA B cuts.

On the women’s side, senior Gemma Spofforth won the 100-yard backstroke (53.03) and finished second in the 200-yard back race (1:56.61), while senior diver Kara Salamone took the one-meter diving title (303.97) and finished second in the three-meter competition (292.81).

On the men’s side, junior Conor Dwyer had a stand-out day for Florida, winning the 200 free (1:35.36) and the 500 free (4:20.59). Dwyer was the anchor leg of Florida’s winning 400-yard freestyle relay, and clocked an unprecedented 42.75 split in the come-from-behind 100-yard free final leg.  The next closest split belonged to Florida’s Brett Fraser who swam a 43.10. The Gators out-touched Auburn with a 2:54.58 swim, while the Tigers’ A relay clocked a 2:55.30, good for second place.

In distance freestyle action, UF junior Joey Pedraza finished first in the 1,000-yard free (9:08.31) and fourth in the 500 free (4:31.12). Florida’s 500-yard freestyle contingent took first through third with Dwyer in first, junior Balazs Gercsak second (4:26.94) and sophomore Jeff Raymond third (4:27.59), all securing NCAA provisional standards.

Sophomore Teresa Crippen won two events – the 200-yard back (1:55.42) and 200-yard fly (1:56.99) – for the Florida women and came in second in the women’s 200-yard individual medley (2:00.77). Sophomore Melani Costa-Schmid had victories for the Gators in the 1,000 free (9:45.04) and 500-yard free (4:46.98) and sophomore Shara Stafford won the 200 free (1:46.90) and was second in the 100 free (49.75).

The Florida women swim at Tennessee Friday and the men swim there on Saturday.