By Corey Mitleider and Scott Barr – OGGOA Contributors
Two months of meets are in the books, and Florida Gators (7-1, 6-1 SEC) gymnastics sits comfortably ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Oklahoma after picking up recent victories over perennial powers Alabama (No. 4) and Georgia (No. 7). An undefeated month with four Southeastern Conference victories sets up Florida for a strong close to the regular season. The Gators have a pair of meets remaining against Minnesota (No. 14) in Gainesville, FL for Senior Day on March 1 and at Utah (No. 8) on March 16.
GYMNAST OF THE MONTH
Freshman Bridget Sloan
Scoring: all-around (39.563), second in NCAA on uneven bars (9.915 – RQS), T-seventh in vault (9.900)
Highlights: 9.9 or above in 10 of 15 events including 9.975 on bars vs. Kentucky
Awards: 10 titles (three all-around, one vault, four bars, two balance beam)
Sloan, who was named SEC Gymnast of the Week (once) and SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week (twice) during the month, talked about her experience in enemy territory after winning the all-around and beating Georgia in its arena. “Definitely a different experience and a learning experience. Coming into a hostile environment like this, I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “There was a little bit of barking going on, but I think that is what fueled us. We definitely fed off of it and I think that is why we had such a great road team score.”
ROUTINE OF THE MONTH
Senior Ashanée Dickerson scored a near-perfect 9.975 on her floor exercise routine to cap Florida’s victory over defending national champion Alabama in Gainesville on Feb. 8. The score was a career-best for Dickerson on floor exercise and head coach Rhonda Faehn took it a step further saying, “That was the best routine of her four years here, it really was. That was amazing.”
Check out national rankings and more on Florida gymnastics…after the break!
NEWCOMER OF THE MONTH
Freshman Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto
Scoring: bars average of 9.890 (three 9.9s or better)
Highlights: 9.9 or better at all three home meets in which she competed
Awards: T-first on bars at Auburn
MEET OF THE MONTH
The Gators hosted the Crimson Tide on Feb. 8 and defeated the defending national champions 198.100-196.850 in front of 8,074 fans at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, the ninth largest crowd in school history. Florida’s total was the highest in the country recorded to date, though Oklahoma has since surpassed it. The Gators had two gymnasts – Dickerson and Sloan – who scored a 9.900 average or better on each event, all of which was done with sophomore Kytra Hunter uncharacteristically falling on bars (9.35) and beam (9.40).
NATIONAL RANKINGS BY APPARATUS
All-Around: No qualifiers
Floor Exercise: Dickerson – T-11th – 9.890
Uneven Bars: Sloan – 2nd – 9.915
Vault: Dickerson – 2nd – 9.915
Balance Beam: Mackenzie Caquatto – T-2nd – 9.890
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Florida has battled minor injuries early in the season. Junior Alaina Johnson (back), an all-around competitor, has not participated since the third meet of the season on Jan. 18 as she has rested over the last five competitions.
» Senior Randy Stageberg and sophomore Kiersten Wang have assisted the team with their consistent performances. Stageberg has scored at least 9.825 on all 10 of her events (vault, beam, floor) in the month of February, and Wang has responded with a 9.80 or better on seven of her eight vault and floor routines. This consistency in leadoff positions has helped the Gators score consistently all month.
» The O’Dome has continued to rock for Florida gymnastics. In five home meets, UF has drawn an average of over 6,000 fans.
* OGGOA contributors Corey Mitleider (@cormit123) and Scott Barr (@sbarruf) can be reached on Twitter. Feel free to leave comments and questions below.
Photo Credit: NCAA