The No. 1 University of Florida gymnastics team’s (12-1, 5-1 SEC) first competitive event will be the uneven bars at the 31st annual Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championships. The Gators start defense of their 2010 meet title at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 19 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in Birmingham, Ala.
All the teams gathered on the floor exercise mat between Friday’s two practice sessions at the BJCC to hold the official draw for the meet. Senior All-American Maranda Smith represented UF at the draw. Smith, picking from the next to last position, selected the card which read the bye before uneven bars. Florida will be on bye for the first of the seven rotations and begins competition on the uneven bars for the second rotation. The complete draw can be found below.
The No. 1 Gators come into Saturday’s meet with the nation’s highest team total this season – a 197.725 posted in Athens, Ga., against Georgia on Feb. 21.Saturday’s meet is sure to be a tight contest, as of the nation’s top 25 team scores posted this season, 13 came from SEC programs, including eight of the top 10.
In Florida’s last regular season meet, the Gators defeated No. 5 Utah 197.00-196.75 in front of a record-breaking 15,558 people in Salt Lake City, Utah. The crowd bested the previous NCAA gymnastics record by six people.
“I’m really happy with the way the team has responded and our training has gone really well,” UF Head Coach Rhonda Faehn said. “They’re confident and it’s just going to be a matter of having that energy when we step into the arena and carry that momentum from event to event. We’ve done everything we can to prepare them up to this point in the season and now it’s going to be a matter of sticking together as a team and staying positive, and having fun out there.”
The Gators posted a 197.05 at the 2010 SEC Championships to claim the program’s seventh title. Florida’s Ashanée Dickerson was named SEC Freshman of the Year. Dickerson and teammates Marissa King and Smith were also named to the All-SEC team.
Three of the nation’s top-10 teams (No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Alabama, No. 8 Georgia) are among the seven-team SEC field. It is the 14th time a league team has brought the No. 1 ranking into the SEC meet, and the second time that UF has brought the top ranking (2007, 2011). The last time the nation’s top two teams were in the SEC Championships was in 2007, when Florida was No. 1 and Alabama No. 2.